There is no doubt in my mind that for a 20 year old democracy, South Africa has come a long way.
The new South Africa adopted an indebted economy, socio-economic inequalities, poverty stricken communities, as well as large amounts of black people seeking vengeance for the injustices of apartheid.
We are now heading towards one of the most interesting elections of our young democracy.
The country is celebrating 20years of democracy, the ‘born-frees’ (those born in 1994) are voting for the first time, and various political parties slander each other with every ounce of power they have each week, so this year’s election promises to be a very interesting in terms of the outcome.
The reason why these elections are intensely contested is because many South Africans are disgruntled with the current ruling party.
For the past five years, many of the progressive economic, social and educational transformations that have been implemented by the African National Congress (ANC) have been counteracted by the scandals that its politicians and public officials have been dragged into.
From the fallen police commissioner Jackie Selebi, Shabir Shaik, Justice Moeng Moeng, corruption within the government, Marikana massacre, up to President Zuma’s “gallons” of misconducts, and inability to lead righteously; the list is endless.
Above all, because of the malfunctions of the authority of this country, the image of South Africa has been tainted. Also, many South Africans have been losing jobs rapidly. The latter however, is not entirely the government’s fault; the global economic recession has played a role in the country’s inability to create job opportunities.
Furthermore, the ANC dug itself a “hell-hole” when it decided to no longer be-friend its radical soldier, Julius Malema in Novemeber 2011.
Simply because Malema is a bull that does not succumb to rules and bureaucracy, as a result, Malema did not take his suspension well, to the extent that he felt the need to lash back at his elders within the ANC – especially Pres. Zuma, calling him out as a “traitor”.
Since then, Malema has formed his own political party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to challenge the ruling party’s dominance.
In my view, Malema brought a highly needed form of radical action against the ruling party in this country, which has rattled the ANC. For example, shortly after the Marikana tragedy, Malema took the opportunity of winning the confidence of the destitute miners, their families and the youth he led while still with the ANC Youth League.
As a result of this, the black voters in this country are hugely divided or spread among the many parties; EFF, AGANGSA, UDM, IFP, COPE and many more.
My concern however is the youth and where their vote lies. From my peers I have heard a lot of doubtful and confused voices, to a point where these so-called ‘born-frees’ boycotted the voting registration and will thus not be voting.
Last week, COSATU secretary-general, Zwelinzima Vavi claimed on an election debate that only 22% of the two-million 18-19 year old registered to vote in the general elections.
This fact is quite alarming for a country that brags to be the youngest progressive democracy on the continent, especially with the fact that the youth of this country is the biggest population-wise.
By Sisipho Skweyiya