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Where Have All The Voters Gone?

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on November 5, 2021 06:21

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The results are in (barring a few details and objections) and the spin doctors are in top gear. South African municipal elections produced the expected results, with minor surprises. And there's a big and growing elephant in the room. Are your voting patterns different?

Proof of civic duty done: a spot on a fingernail days after voting. Author's photo.

Show a finger. Electoral officers carefully daubed supposedly indelible ink on the left thumbs of voters last Monday, to prevent double voting. But the master of political cartoons, Zapiro, saw the majority showing a middle finger instead. Because 70% of eligible voters did not bother. And most of the uninterested citizens were the youth. 

The election results announcement demonstrated security overreach. VIP's congratulated themselves in measured tones, calling on all to forget their differences and support each other behind an unprecedented screen of uniforms and metal detectors. A few general conclusions are apparent. The African National Congress, in power since 1994, gained less than 50% of the vote.

Vicious infighting would account for that - a faction known as the Radical Economic Transformation group, supporting State repossession of land without compensation and redistribution of wealth, terrorized and intimidated voters especially in the homeland of disaffected ex-President Jacob Zuma. This group now plans to depose the incumbent President, Cyril Ramaphosa, at the next Party Elective Congress, before the 2024 General Elections.

A significant proportion of ANC voters in Soweto also turned away, many of them in protest against irregular electricity supply, a common occurrence in a city where few pay for power, many consider it a basic human right and would see their utility bills capped at $ 17.00.

The main opposition, the Democratic Alliance, did not make much headway either. In fact, it lost several previously safe municipalities. What is new, however, is the emergence of several new political parties. One- and two constituency parties, a party led by charismatic ex-Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba, to name a few, will give more choice to voters, if there are any.

Veteran political commentator and journalist Richard Poplak opined in a brilliant article that these may have been the second last elections in South Africa. He sees the specter of gangster insurrection, the failure of the legal system to hold anybody to account for large scale and growing corruption, an inability to understand that the economy cannot flourish under a growing burden of regulation and legislation, political stupidity on all sides and a growing distrust of the forces of law and order.  

One point did become clear to me as I waited, with some 150 other citizens, on the parking lot of the Department of Home Affairs for the opportunity to receive an official document confirming that my official 22-year-old Marriage Certificate is in fact valid. By the time I received this valuable piece of paper four hours later, having experienced a truly Soviet-style bureaucracy, I had had ample opportunity to conduct an informal public opinion survey.

The consensus among artisans, domestic servants, medical personnel, professionals and retired officials was: Government has become a game for a small elite. We ordinary people need to help each other, work together, take care of each other. 

   

 

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on November 5, 2021 06:21

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Source: The Hill
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South Africa’s ruling party garnered historically low support in the latest rounds of municipal elections this week. The...

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