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Politics, voting and my random thoughts


I voted today.

That simple statement in 3 words sums up an incredible experience for myself, and no doubt for many first time South African voters as well. The whole history of our country and its struggle to freedom is not something I’m going to repeat here, but I will say that I am greatful to those who have gone before so that I may have this right.

I was able to vote in the last general elections our country had, back in 2004, but due to my own apathy I chose not to. Since then, South African politics has gone through a radical transformation, one that made me realise that I need to cast my ballot in order to make my voice heard. After watching Barack Obama spread his message of hope and change, I felt some of that energy fill me, and I knew that I had to vote. Although the party I voted for will not win the national election, I believe that they can win the province I am in, the Western Cape.

South Africa is ruled by the Afican National Congress, and has been ruled by them since 1994. They will win this election, though with not quite the same strength as before. Starting off with the incomparable Nelson Mandela, we have slowly seen the country stabilise but in many ways also stagnate. Poor choices for ministers were made, scandals and corruption became daily news items, racism kept rearing its ugly head, the list goes on. Above all else, the one defining factor is this: Jacob Zuma happened.

Jacob Zuma has divided this country like never before, yet at the same time has awoken people from their apathy, almost by accident. Enough so that a new political party was formed, a party called COPE or Congress of the People. COPE rocked the ruling ANC in a highly visible way, and noticing this, other opposition parties started waking up. Tired of corruption, cronyism and more, ordinary people realised that their voice meant something. Longing for positive change, millions turned out to register to vote including many young people. After seeing the way the ruling president Thabo Mbeki was “recalled”, the death of the Scorpions anti-crime unit, and the dropping of charges against Zuma, people got the chance to make their voice heard today. In a day or so, we’ll know the results of the vote.

I will continue to cast my vote in future elections, and will attempt to persuade eveyone I know to do so as well. It is our right, earned in blood by those who went before. While we may not vote for the party(s) they belonged to, we honour them by voting. Long live democracy.

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