Elections 2014: Decisions for a ‘bornfree’ and a ‘second-timer’

A ‘bornfree’ and a second-time voter tell us about their 7th May voting experience

A Bornfree Votes

Just over two hours later, I had finally cast my vote― the third generation in my family able to vote; a young woman who had never experienced life under apartheid; a young woman voting in a context which in many ways differed to the one in which my parents and grandparents had voted, yet I feel that in other ways the context is similar, or at least the hopes collected in that single vote of mine are similar to the hopes in their votes.

By Naledi Mahlase

“Inde le ndlela esiyihambayo!” is not what greeted me as I took my place at the end of a long queue outside St Paul’s Cathedral in Cape Town. In place of any singing, I came across many young faces with some sense of excitement about them whether in their silence or in their small talk with friends or really friendly strangers. Like me, these fresh faces were first time voters or ‘bornfrees’,  if you will.

There was definitely a vibe in the air and I personally felt a sense of excitement and anticipation making its way within me. I can’t say I was surprised at the number of youth who filled the queue in spite of apparent statistics suggesting many born frees had not registered to vote―I was voting close to the University of Cape Town, after all. If anything, it was encouraging to see so many bornfrees ready to make themselves heard through the ballot papers.

Just over two hours later, I had finally cast my vote― the third generation in my family able to vote; a young woman who had never experienced life under apartheid; a young woman voting in a context which in many ways differed to the one in which my parents and grandparents had voted, yet I feel that in other ways the context is similar, or at least the hopes collected in that single vote of mine are similar to the hopes in their votes.

Walking out of the station, I thought about what the outcomes of this election may be. I think it’s interesting that these fresh faces of my generation have finally made it onto the political map of the country and not just behind youth leagues―I wonder if our connection with the ideals and vision of certain parties will result in a change of government; I wonder if a party’s vision has resonated so strongly with us in contrast to its negative aspects that we will see a change in the type of leadership we have, whether or not a change of government occurs.

Beyond the changes which I would like to see take place and which the parties have promised in their election campaigns, I am more concerned about the changes which I can make or assist in so that the best interests of all South Africans are met. I think this may be a result of my own bornfree story, the circumstances I was born into and the opportunities and challenges which have come with them. To me, every bornfree has a different story to tell, there isn’t a generic bornfree story.  My ‘freedom’ is not the same as the next youth’s ‘freedom’. Maybe the only definite way in which our stories are connected is that we were born free from apartheid rule.

My contribution, in fact our contribution, as born frees or not, shouldn’t be solely based on a vote. All of us can contribute to some sort of sustainable change which is in line with the collective interests of the nation, perhaps we just need to articulate the inefficiencies we see clearly and be innovative about how we go about addressing them. From this bornfree’s perspective, yes, inde le ndlela esiyihambayo, but my first voting experience has made me realize that every step on this road is worthy and meaningful.

Naledi Mahlase is a second year engineering student at the University of Cape Town

 

thumbs

 

Decisions, decisions for a ‘second timer’

It was only when I was in the queue that I realised that I wanted to make the right decision on my ballot. I felt that voting for the wrong party would lead me to feel guilt and regret for next 5 years. I knew which party I was leaning towards but I still had doubt. 

By Lindelwe Dube (@lindelwe_dube)

Let me start by explaining that I spent the last year promoting voter education, and encouraging young people and communities to vote. For the past year I have lost myself in political debates, campaigns and engagements that sought to confront the socio-political issues facing our country. I even got a job as an intern at the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa. It has been a long countdown to the elections. Honestly, it felt like I was either waiting for a birthday party or graduation day. Even when I woke up this morning at 6 am my first thought was “The day has come”. I had feelings of excitement, nervousness and impatience about getting to the voting station as soon as I could.

Bearing in mind that I have just moved from Durban to Auckland Park and I’m still not familiar with the area. I trekked for hours on foot, literally, asking any person who was willing to talk to me for directions. They either gave me the wrong ones or did not know. What I found surprising was the fact that a group of policemen who happened to be patrolling the streets didn’t know where the voting stations were! Needless to say it was when I found another group of policemen that I finally found the voting station. I had walked for almost two hours, each time telling myself, “Keep going, there are people who died for me to have this privilege.” I absolutely refused not to vote. The only disappointment was that I was not the first person at the voting station.

It was only when I was in the queue that I realised that I wanted to make the right decision on my ballot. I feared that voting for the wrong party would lead me to feel guilt and regret for next five years. I knew which party I was leaning towards but I still had doubt. There has been no clear party that has shown themselves to be absolutely worthy of my support, so I based my decision on which party would be the lesser of the evils and make the best decisions in parliament.

When it was finally my turn to get into the booth, I put my cross next to the party I had chosen; I remained still for a little while, trying to talk myself out of the party. I remembered how sure I was when I voted for the first time five years ago. Now it felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. My cross was not about who best represents me, but rather about the poor in rural areas and in townships, the struggling mothers, the young children who cannot afford to go to school or walk long distances in horrible weathers to schools. I wanted to vote for a party that would improve their conditions and prioritise development in the poorest of areas across the country.

I eventually walked out of the booth and placed my ballot in the box. The way I walked did not show confidence about my decision but rather displayed a sense of insecurity.

I can only hope that the party that I selected really makes use of this vote. If anything, I am more proud at my decision to vote than to stay at home and do nothing about the current state of affairs.

Lindelwe Dube is an Intern at Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa and Managing Organizer at Inkulufreeheid is a is a youth-led, non-partisan organisation aiming to build greater participation in democracy.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>