Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
8 May 2019
6:30 am

Voters’ indifference an insult to our heroes – Madikizela family

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

In Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, young people eligible to vote told The Citizen that they would rather sit this election out.

Late 'mother of the nation' Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Picture: Neil McCartney.

The legacy of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was keeping voters determined to make their mark in this election, her family says.

Voter despondency in some pockets of the historically rich former Transkei in the Eastern Cape is rife among youth.

In the former capital of the now-dissolved Transkei, poverty, joblessness and lack of service delivery is glaringly evident in its potholed urban streets and along dusty, littered roads.

While statistically this election has attracted the most new young voters to register with the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) in Mthatha, young people eligible to vote told The Citizen that they would rather sit this election out.

But further northeast in the province, in Madikizela-Mandela’s home town of Bizana, her cousin, Prince Madikizela, said it was now as important for people to vote as in 1994.

“There is a hunger to vote here in Bizana because we have got a democracy here that we sacrificed our people for, and it will be an insult to those who have departed to just sit there and no longer care for what they died for and spent the better part of their lives fighting for,” he said.

He went on to reminisce about the excitement which captured the area in April 25 years ago.

“It is especially important because when you talk about Winnie, in 1994 she was running the voter education campaign and was charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all voting material was delivered to the relevant places – and she was working around the whole Eastern Cape.”

Three “born free” South African females said that votes had become valueless as none of them had landed a decent job, despite having graduated from tertiary institutions.

“I graduated two years ago. I have a qualification in finance and business management and I am working at [a supermarket] earning less than minimum wage,” one said.

Her 25-year-old colleague said she took the job after years of waiting for an internship, having graduated from the Walter Sisulu University.

“All the parties are the same, nobody stands out as being better.

“Not even the Economic Freedom Fighters, which claims to be for the youth.

“In my opinion, that vote will not change anything in my life.”

Meanwhile hundreds of people, including those who were making last-minute attempts to have temporary identity documents printed before the election, queued outside the department of home affairs office in the already congested Mthatha central business district.

At 77 years old, Mlindeleli Kekana said he had voted in every election since democracy, but this time, his visit to the department had nothing to do with voting. Today, his plan was to not vote because his life had not changed significantly since that first poll.

But a 50-year old woman from Tsolo outside Mthatha said she would be voting today.

She said she would be voting for the ANC because “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

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