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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid