OPINION: Forgive me father ... My #Elections2016 predicament
Forgive me father for I may sin.
Before I start, it feels a lot like this piece should come with a disclaimer, so here goes:
"By the nature of my profession, I am not a card carrying member of any political organisation, however my upbringing leaves me with somewhat of a 'natural' affiliation to the ruling party. To Christians, this is in no way intended to be blasphemous or offend anyone's religious beliefs. To politicians & political analysts, I'm not in any way convinced I am as knowledgeable as those of you whose focus is politics, I'm just a citizen who believes my power lies in my vote."
I was raised by a politician father; I was too young to care when he tried to instil in me the values of the party he had devoted his life to, but I remember vividly the day I was awoken to the politics of the land - I was six years old. I stood silent, numbed by images of Chris Hani's lifeless body and a weeping Tokyo Sexwale in the news. The national elections that followed the next year were, as I was taught, how we honoured the memory of those who died while fighting for our liberation, and this very right to vote.
Naturally, when I first became eligible to vote I jumped at the opportunity to "pay my respect" to these fallen heroes. Ever since, this has felt much like a responsibility rather than a legislated right. But this time around, while I am compelled to exercise my right, I'm tormented by the indecision and the immense responsibility I feel, now towards those who continue to suffer in our democracy. Gone are the days of a nostalgically sentimental vote; we need a government that works for all, today and towards tomorrow.
As a resident of the Madibeng Municipality in the North West Province, it's an open secret that I live in an area plagued by poor service delivery & corruption. Who could ever forget the Mothotlung, Majakaneng, Hebron & Bapong service delivery strikes? Admittedly, I live in the most affluent portion of the municipality which is under a Democratic Alliance-run ward; but we are not spared the inefficiencies of a sub-standard water supply and the effects of ageing infrastructure which often results in water cuts and burst pipes oozing raw sewage onto the perfectly manicured lawns.
While it may appear the DA has done a decent job at running the ward, I am not convinced they are capable of doing the same for the entire municipality. I have worked on and read far too many contrasting stories on a thriving Cape Town, versus the sheer desperation of residents living in Khayelitsha, Masiphumelele and Hanover Park. What will become of the already forgotten people of Mmakgabetlwane, Rankoetea and Oukasie if I vote DA? Is what I am feeling the guilt of a middle-class black person who knows a vote in this direction would be somewhat selfish?
As I scroll through my list of "possibles", I can't ignore the sea of red that swept through the Bojanala district, especially in the last year. The Economic Freedom Fighters are a definite force to be reckoned with, but having read portions of their manifesto and listening to their argument in recent debates, I am concerned their policy and approach to land and mining matters, though a pertinent part of any talk of the emancipation of blacks, is too radical. Here, in a place where agriculture and mining are the main industries (though exploitative - but that's a discussion I will leave to those who are better equipped to debate and analyse it) that allow the few who can to put food on the table. This would be a real gamble, because if they get it right this may usher in a necessary change, but if they get it wrong those people go from bad to worse - and there is no history of governance to inform my decision. Shall I throw the dice and risk the livelihood of those already living on the borders of abject poverty?
The ruling party...Twelve years of living in Madibeng and I cannot speak of any visible development, if any the pace at which it happens leaves much to be desired. The likes of Philly Mapulane and Monde Juta came and went under a cloud with the Auditor General finding deep-rooted corruption under their watch. No one has been accountable for the millions that go missing from the coffers; all we see is a game of chess with pawns being strategically shifted before the opponent strikes. Yet the people continue to suffer.
I have very limited faith in the mayoral candidate, Mme Jostine Mothibe , in the year that she has been at the helm she has left us residents with more questions than answers, even with the municipality under administration. What can the African National Congress in Madibeng give me beyond what I already know? Slow delivery, corruption & in-fighting?
If I cast my vote in favour of a little known party, it would be because I cannot, on voting day, disrespect and disregard the memory of OR Tambo, Joe Slovo, Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Sol Plaatjie, Albert Luthuli and many other unsung heroes by not voting at all. But I should be ready to live with the knowledge that I voted because I felt I had to, and not because I believe my vote could make a difference.
To my father, forgive me for I may sin. You have always reminded me that your political choice is not hereditary, and what I do with my vote should be my contribution towards the greater good and wellbeing of our people. Forgive me for from where I stand, whatever my choice I do not believe our people will get the government they deserve.
Masechaba Sefularo is an Eyewitness News online producer based in Johannesburg.