The General Elections in South Africa on 8th May 2019
To vote or not to vote
The South African Elections 2019.
With the Elections only a week away the election posters in our area in the suburb of Vincent in East London caught my attention. Colourful and numerous I decided to take some photos to record them for history and to meditate on as I try to decide where to make my cross next Wednesday. The first question that comes to mind is; “to vote or not to vote?” After all what difference will my vote actually make in the larger picture? In the main street, as I stopped to take some of the photos I asked a young woman walking down the street, “who are you going to vote for?” and she simply shrugged her shoulders and said “no one”.
The outcome of the election is already known, the ANC (African National Congress)will continue to be in control. It was interesting to notice that among the 124 posters I noticed in a 400m radius from our home there was only one from the ANC. While our mainly white middle class area is obviously not an ANC stronghold it is still interesting to take note of the content of this poster; Vote for Ramaposa as President. No promises of a better South Africa but a simple request as to who needs to be in charge. The many promises made in the past, as unrealistic as they always were, have never been fulfilled. So this may be a way to go.
Not being on top of political news from day to day I was really surprised to see a poster with a photo of three women on it. One of the women was the ex Cape Town former mayor and Western Cape politician who has been involved in several parties, Patricia de Lille. She has started a new party, calling on woman to fix the many problems that South Africa faces. While this claim of the newly formed GOOD Party, sounds like a rather naive dream, it certainly may appeal to many woman who still feel marginalized in society and in leadership positions.
Most of the posters counted in our area were from the DA (Democratic Alliance), the present main opposition to the government in parliament. It is interesting to note that they have posters with messages in three of the 11 South African official languages; isXhosa, Afrikaans and English. On the message side their posters either attack the present government as corrupt or just plain useless, or promise a better South Africa for all.
Much to my surprise I found quite a few posters advertising a party I did not even know existed. Obviously some serious money had been available to this party as it was very active at getting its posters up, even at this late stage, and in large numbers; the SRWP or the Social Revolutionary Workers Party. This party comes as an offshoot of Numsa, the trade union organization in South Africa, who in the past have supported the ANC. In recent times their previous happy relationship has not been quite so cozy. Its poster is bright red and carries a badge that speaks for itself.
After my photographic journey along the streets nearby my interest was piqued and I googled The National Election and found that there would be 38 parties on the election form I would use to make my cross. Some that are perhaps worth mentioning in this short article are: The Capatalist Party of South Africa or ZACP. Launched by a group of ten people calling themselves “positive disruptives” and have as a logo a purple cow. The BLF Party (Black Land First) is a far left black nationalistic party with a leader Andile Magxitama who was expelled from the EFF, and now calls for radical land reform and that whites should be killed. The EFF leader Julius Malema was expelled from the ANC and formed the Economic Freedom Fighters, who are the third most powerful party in our present parliament. The mind boggled as to what is going to happen in this election as confusion seems to reign. At present the ANC hold 249 seats in the National Assembly, the Democratic Alliance 89, the Economic Freedom Fighters 25 and the Inkata Freedom Party 10.
Earlier this week someone from the coloured community who has his finger on the pulse in his area told me that there in a lot of discontent in South Africa at this time, and especially as the election approaches. With the call from the Christian Democratic Party that we need to pray for a peaceful and honest election and a better South Africa in the future it is something we can all hope for. After all the South African people deserve that.
Among all the election posters a well known South African comedian liberally sprinkled his poster for his show. Saw this show at the arts festival and it was really worth seeing as a commentary on our country and the education system. I hope the election does not turn out to be a comedy show as elections often seem to be all over the world.
So my advice is for you to make your cross count on the 8th of May. It is an opportunity to have your say. If anyone is actually listening is another matter!
The Post Mortem:
So the elections came and went! Not much has changed but two interesting observations can be made. Firstly, while the two main parties have both lost some of their followers it is the radical parties that have gained support. On the one hand the EFF who appeal to the poor and landless with promises of land and prosperity who have gained more support. On the other hand the FFP who are fighting against land appropriation by the Government have also gained support indicating that the land issue is going to be the important issue in the future.
Meanwhile the Western Cape remains firmly in the hands of the Democratic Alliance and the rest of the country is held by the ruling ANC Party who are making promises of doing a better job in the future. The smaller parties who called foul and wanted a re-election because of voter fraud seem to be crying over spilt milk. Most simply lost their deposit and have no seats in the new parliament to show for their efforts. So we look to the future with hope for a better country that provides improved economic growth and a fair deal for all. .