Voting for Change in South Africa

May 5, 2014 — 5 Comments

It’s always bothered me that my sister does not vote; she doesn’t even know who’s running for office half the time. This is surprising, since our parents vote regularly and were heavily involved in town government when we were growing up. Her husband doesn’t vote either.

This lack of civic involvement upsets me more because of the example it sets for their kids. When they grow up, will they not vote either? I always said that my kids — if I ever had any — would vote and participate in the democratic process.

So I was glad to see Mtuseni’s WhatsApp status messages this morning, as the South African elections come up this Wednesday. (Subtlety has never been his strong point.)

South+Africa+election

South+Africa+Election

He’s been staying at his pastor’s house to shorten the commute to his radio internship, but is going home Tuesday night so he can vote the next day in his first election. He’s also been tweeting about the election on his station’s handle: @motc_kasiefm971

We discussed the election this weekend, and while I won’t say what party he’s voting for, I am glad it’s not the African National Congress. This is a shift from a few years ago when we discussed politics there. I think college and being exposed to other ideas and situations — perhaps even his trip to the US last year — has led him to modify his perspective. Yes, Mandela and the ANC helped bring about the fall of apartheid, but after twenty years in power Mtuseni is living in a shack with no water or electricity and will take his newly minted college diploma into a job market with 50 percent youth unemployment. If I was one of the millions of poor living in South Africa, I wouldn’t be voting for the ANC merely for its historic legacy.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the ANC will lose its solid majority in parliament this time around, so perhaps little will change for Mtuseni and so many like him. But mainly I’m just glad that my long-distance son is voting! #Proud

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5 responses to Voting for Change in South Africa

  1. 

    Michael, very insightful – the compare/contrast between so-called free Americans who don’t vote and oppressed South Africans speaking out and hoping for change through the singular, democratic expression of a vote. We won’t know what we have until it’s gone, I fear.

  2. 

    I’m so excited that he made the effort to go out and vote – I really believe that the ANC will up its game if there is enough of a threat that at the next elections a majority is not likely. Honestly, they just need to get out of their comfort zone and off the coat tails of their freedom fighting legacy and they can pull it off. Until then, we need to keep opposition parties strong.

    • 

      Yes, I am proud that he voted — after reading that only one-third of his generation had even registered. He was lobbying hard for people to go vote on FB and Kasie. And he said he was voting for change and the future, not history — so he doesn’t buy that Madiba legacy story. As I told him a while back, 20 years later and you’re still living in a shack. Something’s not working!
      BTW…. He’s coming here again next month for a pre-graduation adventure. When are you coming to the US? ;-)

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