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‘Failed by govt’, Bo-Kaap community want their voices heard as they vote

Feeling failed by national government, resident Wahab Ahmed said it was important to make your voice heard.

Voting ballot boxes fill up as voters exercise their right to vote on 8 May 2019. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Bo-Kaap residents say they’re making their voices heard by voting in 2019’s general elections.

The area now enjoys heritage protection from the City of Cape Town council, after councillors in April approved the inclusion of the community in a heritage protection overlay zone, encouraging owners to retain and rehabilitate the existing residential buildings, as well as the conservation of the historic urban landscape of the area.

Salie Khan (63) has been living in the area all his life.

“It’s a blessing and for me, I could never have done this [cast my ballot] in the past because of apartheid. Now, that I can I must make use of it,” Khan said.

Wahab Ahmed (69) said it was important to make one's voice heard, as he’d been failed by the national government.

“In the past, we couldn’t vote or do what we wanted to do. When we finally [ushered in] democracy I was excited, but right now I am disappointed because of the national government not doing what they promised the people,” Ahmed said.

At the same time, the wet weather did not deter voters from long queues in Mitchells Plain, where polling stations were packed.

Drenched and cold, Mitchells Plain resident Albert Jordan said nothing would have stopped him from casting his ballot: “I arrived late because of the rain, but I planned to vote. Ever since 1994, it has been my conviction to vote no matter what... I feel we’ve earned it.”

The Colorado voting station, one of more than 40 in Mitchells Plain, had more than 4,700 registered voters.

Jordan said he was hopeful his vote would bring about change: “I’m sure the politicians have woken up now, and that our votes will definitely count this time.”

Meanwhile, Western Cape premier Helen Zille said on Wednesday she hoped the Democratic Alliance (DA) will retain the Western Cape and push the African National Congress (ANC) below 50% in Gauteng.

Zille voted in Knysna on Wednesday morning in what she called a “white location”.

She believes the big contest is in two provinces; the Western Cape and Gauteng.

“I was in what’s called a white location of Knysna, a very poor community, and everything went smooth. There was good professionalism everywhere, it felt good.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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