It been coming for a while now, whether we’re ready or not, and the pressure is mounting. We’ve just celebrated the 20th anniversary of our great victory, and the world is watching us. Last they saw, we were a shiny beacon of hope – a testament to the power of the democratic vote, an emblem of victory for long-fighting martyrs, and heroes of a war against oppression.
A second look and suddenly we’re a struggling economy, have lost faith in the government we so triumphantly voted into power, and are searching desperately for a new solution. And it has not been an easy search – not for the past five years, and certainly not in these accelerating months leading toward the election. I am a 25-year-old, educated, and (despite myself) politically observant South African female. Any other day, those would not be the adjectives I’d use in self-description but in these few months leading up to the election, I’m forced to consider this part of my identity, and what (if anything) it could mean for the bigger picture and my obscure time in history. More than being an individual at this stage, I form part of a statistical age-group and demographic that is increasingly responsible for the popularised apathetic approach to elections. I can’t decide if I am apathetic or just resigned to a desperate lack of choices that inspire any kind of loyalty.
Disillusionment is the prevalent political attitude. The traditional pre-election rallies, campaigns and other such shenanigans all seem far more comedic than dramatically awe-inspiring. For an older generation, the African National Congress (ANC) proved to be the guerilla force which was able to bring about change to remove a morally corrupt government. For this generation, the ANC is the moral corruption from which we need saving. The official opposition (the Democratic Alliance) seems a mess of ludicrous campaigns and poorly considered policies. Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema’s militant rallies excite thousands in the majority, but minorities remain stuck between fear and exasperation. Agang, a quieter party, seems more viable by virtue of being the less ridiculous, (though it too has had its share of “WTF?” moments).
The no-vote campaign seems more disempowering than useful, but how much power did we have in the first place? It’s tiring. And cyclical. But it’s this unfortunate situation we’ll have to face on May 7. We have to accept that no country has been at its best a mere 20 years post- liberation We must accept that this vote will not be as drastic as it was 20 years ago, nor as it could be in another 20 years. But we must pitch up at a voting station and have a slight influence on shifting our here and now, whether we’re ready to or not.
“Johara is a graphic designer and photographer from Durban currently extending her degree in Media with honours in the Digital arts”