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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs