Saturday, May 10, 2014

South Africa's Dirty Votes

In the West Rand, the township of Bekkersdal is a stark emblem of the broken dream of millions of South Africans who live in squalor across the country. There is no running water, electricity or sanitation, election posters urging residents to exercise their vote hang perilously from wire-mesh fences that surround donkey-drop outside toilets.

The premier OF the Gauteng province, Nomvula Mokonyane, having been jeered by residents during a visit in October 2013, said: "People can threaten us and say they won’t vote but the ANC doesn’t need their dirty votes."

The comments drew outrage and the residents made it known that the ANC was no longer welcome here. In February 2014, two voter registration stations were petrol-bombed as part of residents' demands that voting should not take place until the local municipality was dissolved. These residents cite corruption, nepotism in the ranks of the local government for the failure to address their grievances.  ANC activists going door to door to campaign in Bekkersdal were chased away with stones.

Elections, though, did take place. The African National Congress is claiming victory. The ruling party is set for another five-year term in office, continuing its unbroken tenure since the fall of apartheid. The ANC vote was down on 2009 figures but still more than 62 percent. Jackson Mthembu, spokesman of ANC, said the party's "well-oiled election campaign" proved to be effective.

Bekkersdal is just one township among many in a larger story of rising disenchantment. The results failed to mask an underlying dissatisfaction over high levels of unemployment, a lack of basic services and allegations of widespread corruption.

From here and here 

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