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How I Feel About South Africa's Election Results
[Opinion] Commentary on the ruling party's victory
Nicolas van der Leek (Nick)     Print Article 
Published 2009-04-25 11:25 (KST)   
A frail looking Nelson Mandela shortly after casting his ballot.
©2009 N. van der Leek
I had one or two flutters, especially early on and noticing the long queues. I was hoping the Democratic Alliance Party (DA), (or any opposition party for that matter), would balance out the very out of balance political power that dominates this country and has done for the better part of South Africa's history. Balance. Equity. Is that too much to ask for?

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Initially it looked like the DA were going to get at least 20 percent of the vote, and the African National Congress (ANC) as little as 60 percent. That was looking like a fair result. Now, as more votes are counted, the DA is moving closer to 15 percent and the ANC closer to 70 percent.

I find it very difficult to believe or accept that since the last election, voters are no wiser, that they effectively endorse corruption and service failure.

For a few days when the Congress of the People (COPE) materialized, I also thought COPE was a great idea, an alternative, a new promising party with passion. But pretty soon it turned out that COPE was a sort of bitter-ANC dressed in monk's clothing. Quite a few people fell for the COPE con, but it's moot whether, if COPE hadn't existed at all, that those voters would have gone to the extreme of voting for Helen Zille's DA. Probably not. Still, COPE has shaved 5-8 percent off the ANC's vote, with other parties barely registering with the voting public. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and Independent Democrats (ID) might as well board up their offices and retire.



South African voters queuing in Killarney, Johannesburg.
©2009 N. van der Leek
White South Africans are increasingly concerned about the state of the nation.
©2009 N. van der Leek
I'm also disappointed to see how many wards ran out of ballots - 24, and that despite the numbers I saw standing in queues, only 77 percent of voters voted. Those 23 percent could have made a difference.

So in general I am pretty disappointed, and in the simplest language I feel that the average South African voter is not very smart.

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We are probably worse off politically now than before the election - this applies to both whites and blacks. Maybe someone should have explained to everyone that one party having a license to do anything isn't healthy in any country. Why? Because it makes the ruling party feel entitled to be lazy, and when prodded, to shake a machine gun in one's face. The ruling party already have a track record showing they can and do do as they want (e.g. allow urban decay) and getting away with corruption but I guess people think more basically. The US has moved recently beyond color-coded votes (something South Africans have celebrated) but South Africans have proved - most of us - that our votes are racially motivated. We seem motivated by little else.

The Premier of Gauteng, Paul Mashatile, looking confident on election day.
©2009 N. van der Leek
The ANC's Jacob Zuma is certain to be the country's next president.
©2009 N. van der Leek
There is something positive to take out of all this, and it is this. Conditions both here and abroad are likely to worsen a lot, and quickly. A recession - despite what you may hear even from our sanguine and credible finance minister - is a certainty, and a Greater Depression very likely (talk of a 'Recovery' tends to emanate from chief financial officers desperate for straws).

"If you don't vote you can't complain." Photojournalist Nick van der Leek opines about the latest election results in South Africa.
©2009 N. van der Leek
We're in for some very tough conditions and we need very capable people in charge. Any political leader or political party in powerright now is going to have their hands full with an angry mob growing angrier and more disenfranchised by the day - hurling complaints, then threats, howling about lost jobs and no money. Anyone who is elected into office now kind've wins a booby prize, because no matter how good they are, conditions are likely to go from bad to worse under their watch.

This obviously paves the way for the ANC to face the full wrath of the mob when it manifests. But, having said that, I have a sneaking suspicion that this country could go to hell, go utterly bankrupt, have farms seized and cities burnt to the ground and the majority of citizens would still support their leaders (as we've seen in Zimbabwe). Or it would be made to look that way. I guess whoever we are, wherever we are, we get the leaders we deserve and they get us.

The economic crisis means anyone winning an election effectively wins a "booby prize."
©2009 N. van der Leek
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Nicolas van der Leek

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