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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid