News / Africa

South Africa Heads to Polls in Fifth Democratic National Vote

Elderly and disabled South African voters, assisted by nurses, cast their ballots during early voting for special groups at the Nazareth House old-age home in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 5, 2014.
Elderly and disabled South African voters, assisted by nurses, cast their ballots during early voting for special groups at the Nazareth House old-age home in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 5, 2014.
Anita Powell
After months of debate and controversy, South Africa’s political scene has suddenly fallen quiet as parties are giving voters time to deliberate their choices in Wednesday’s poll.  The vote is the nation’s fifth since South Africa became a democracy in 1994.

In 1994, nearly 20 million South Africans lined up for hours to vote in the nation’s first democratic election.

For most South Africans, it was their first chance to participate fully in their society, following the end of the apartheid system that denied black South Africans the right to full citizenship.

But since that day, the nation has never seen that much enthusiasm at the polls, and voters this year say they are less likely than ever to vote.

Some eligible voters say they are disgusted by the wave of corruption allegations that has washed over African National Congress leader, President Jacob Zuma.

Others say they are disappointed that the ruling ANC has failed to extend basic services like clean water and electricity to all South Africans, and that the gap remains too wide between the haves and the have-nots.

Perhaps with this in mind, Zuma’s call to South Africans days before the election was not for them to support him.  It was for them to vote, period.

He even encouraged journalists, who he had accused just minutes earlier of not treating him fairly in their coverage of a recent scandal over his alleged use of $23 million dollars of government money to upgrade his personal home.

“I would like to use this opportunity, really, to say, on Wednesday, 7th of May, is voting time.  And I hope you guys are going to vote.  You guys.  Because I always see you near voting polls, not voting.  Everybody should come out and vote.  Employers, please allow workers to go out and vote.  ... It is just one day, and they must be allowed to go and vote, and make their choice as determined by our constitution.  So I am appealing to everyone to cooperate with everyone on that day,” said Zuma.

Some areas have declared themselves “no-go areas” for voting officials, such as the Johannesburg area township of Gugulethu, where people held protests this week over the lack of basic services.  

Elsewhere, in a town in North West province, the president himself was unable to attend a rally before the vote because of volatility.

Results are expected May 10. and local pollsters have predicted the ANC will win with 63 percent of the vote.  

Zuma said he was confident of victory. “We think the ANC will win the elections.  Overwhelmingly, not just by, you know, skin of the teeth,” he said.

It is a softer version of something Zuma’s colleagues have often said during the campaign, which predicted an ANC win, “whether you like it, or not.”

Those words, perhaps, will strike a chord with many South Africans who say that in the 20 years between apartheid and democracy, too little has changed and they have exchanged one corrupt regime for another.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid