Photo Essay: What would you tell the government?

The ballot box is one way of communicating our feelings about the government but it’s hardly a dynamic conversation. What would South Africans say to their elected officials if they were presented with the chance? FAATIMA TAYOB visited Bokaap, Woodstock, Langa and Newlands in Cape Town to find out.


Salie Khan

Sallie Khan, Bokaap

“I want to say to the president – bring in the death penalty. Because the statistics of murder in our country are so sky high. This is the way forward for me. Our biggest problem in this country is corruption, and crime is high in this country because of the corruption.

“For the last 20 years, I supported the ANC. Now I am in catch-22 situation.

“I say this because I realise now what they stand for.

“When the ANC took over in ’94, we all thought, Mandela is there, he will make it better for us. He will make education and medical aid free.

“The man is gone, and nothing has happened. What do you do now?

“Now you start thinking and ask the question, ‘Is the ANC really the party for you?’

“So now, I will vote for Al Jammah, who are a Muslim party. I will never vote for the DA.

“If you abstain, then you are giving the ruling party access to whatever they want to do.”

Nazeem & Dawood Petersen


Nazeem Petersen, builder, Bo-Kaap

“I will be voting. I feel that education is very important. So I want my vote to achieve better education for all.

“If the youth aren’t educated, they aren’t able to get jobs.”


Dawood Petersen, 23, rugby player, Bo-Kaap

“I do plan to vote this year. Maybe it will make a difference.

“I think Zuma needs to stick to his word, and make better decisions for his people and the country.”





Thiru, 58, BoKaap

“It doesn’t matter what is going on, because my family are all fine. They are married, they are educated.

“When the white government was in power, they made some… hiccups. Let’s call it hiccups.

“Now, the black government took over – they aren’t shy, they just take [from us].

“But back in the day, the white government did the same thing. The only difference was, they did it undercover, smartly, quietly.

“But now, our guys, they mos do it in the open.

“If I could, I would say to Zuma, after two years you must retire.”


details witheld


Details withheld

“No one is going to vote for the ANC. Zuma has power, but he doesn’t keep his promises.

“He will never be like Mandela.

“If you vote for Zuma, he will sit with the power, but he doesn’t care about you even though you voted for him.”

Jonny, 69, Driver

Jonny, 69, driver from Eerste River

“I am voting because I want everyone to live in peace. I also want crime and corruption to go away!

“The young people are struggling. They need work, but jobs are hard to find. I hope they can achieve what they are striving for.

“Even now, post apartheid, things are not equal like we were promised they would be.

“I would like to say to Zuma, ‘Make things happen!’

“All he does is talk, but nothing has really been done. We are on the ground, so we can see what is happening.

“The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.”

Rustum Hassen, 50,BoKaap

Rustum Hassen, 50, technician, from Salt River now living in Bo-Kaap
“I have voted before, but I won’t be voting this year. Although, my family are voting. I am tired of voting, as it achieves nothing.
“We started out with no future, and have ended up with no future.
“To the current government, I’d like to tell them that they need to pay attention to their people and really get a finger on the pulse of the nation.”



Natasha Nomomnde, 22, Lanag


Natasha Nomomnde, 22, Langa
” This will be my first time voting so I feel good!”
Kennith Ndengezi, 32, Debt collector
Kennith Ndengezi, 32, debt collector, Langa
“I am voting this year, but it will be my last time voting for the ANC. The ANC keep making promises, but they aren’t actually doing anything.
“So I don’t feel my vote will achieve anything.
“In ’94, black youth were told education will be free. But it hasn’t been. We want free education!
“People are coming from other places in Africa. They are more educated, and so they are getting our jobs.”

Nomewy, 24, car guard, Langa

“I don’t see any improvements around here, in Langa. I feel like even if you vote, it doesn’t matter. Nothing improves.

“Vote or no vote, things will still stay like this.

“The government could help me and my family. It’s hard to find work.”


Nandi, 31, Langa


Nandi, 31, Langa

“I won’t be voting. I voted previously, and it made no difference.

“We don’t have electricity and we are still in shacks! So why must we vote?

“I want to show the government the middle finger!”

Caitlin Tyldesley, 25,

Caitlin Tyldesley, 25, jewellery designer, Westlake

“I have voted before for the DA, and will vote again this year for the DA.

“There is a lot that still needs to be done and I hope my vote helps to achieve that. My biggest thing is that I spend a lot of time on the roads travelling from Westlake to Canal Walk daily, so for me the roads are a big thing. On the N2, the roads look really really bad.

“Obviously, my biggest problem is the squatter camps. There are squatter camps everywhere!

“When the tourists come into Cape Town, it’s the first thing that they see and it’s not very nice.

“I know it must be a horrible thing to like live that though, and to try and fix that is a huge task on its own.

“To the current government, I’d say, ‘Put your money where your mouth is’. They say a lot, but aren’t actually doing what they are saying.”

Jodie Currie, 21, Student, JHB

Jodie Currie, 21, from Johannesburg, studying a Bachelor of Commerce degree at UCT

“I will continue to vote for the DA as I believe in everything that they stand for and I believe they truly represent a democratic South Africa.

“They aren’t based on race, or against a particular race.

“I want my vote for the DA to help in setting the country straight.

“The current government has a lot of support behind them, but they are inadequate and I think a lot of people follow them blindly without realising what they are following.

“When I say inadequate, I mean they make empty promises and don’t follow through with anything.

“If I could say one thing to the current government I would say, ‘Please sort your act out. Stop stealing our money and sort out everything!'”



Gene Kierman, 41 (Musician, Carpenter)

Gene Kierman, 42, musician, carpenter, teacher, designer, from Gardens

“A process of illumination, more than anything else is driving me to vote.

“My view on voting has always been that, regardless of the system, vote, even if it is just to prevent someone being re-elected.

“It doesn’t always work, but you still try.

“The last time I voted in South Africa was ’94 and obviously I voted for the ANC.

“Now, it will probably be the DA. Coming back to South Africa, after having voted for the ANC, I see that they have not achieved what they said they would achieve, but I don’t think that precludes that they could still achieve what they say what they may like to achieve.

“I hope by voting for a particular party, I am aligning myself with one that will bring about positive change in general.

“To the current ruling party, I’d like to say, ‘Use common sense’, because most the things that are not happening are due to lack of common sense. There is no foresight. There is not thought about five or ten years ahead.”



Zach Schroder,24 & Amedeo Bisonjo, 21


Amedeo Bisojno, 21, Cape Town

“I am not registered to vote. I have however voted once before, for the DA. I feel the voting system is pointless.

“It gives you the idea or makes you feel that you making a difference, that you actually have a say, but you don’t.

“My first time voting was simply because it was my first opportunity to do so.

“To the provincial government in Cape Town I’d like to say, stop cleaning up the front, when in the background there is so much going on. For example, with Woodtsock, areas like the Woodstock exchange look nice, but behind that in the streets of Woodstock, there is so much gang-related violence. It’s just about making people and tourists believe the city is nice, but if you leave your comfort zone, you can see clearly and realise that things are not changing.”


Zach Schroder 25, studied drama & musical theatre

“I have voted before in previous elections. I voted for the DA for the Western Cape and trashed my ballot for the national vote.

“I don’t think young voices are being heard enough.

“I feel like a lot of people are being overlooked in terms of their beliefs and their ideologies.

“Rather, there is a lot of reactionary politics going on currently.

“I feel that ‘We are not the ANC’ is not a good enough reason to have my vote.

“The other thing I find is that if you are young and leaving or just left high school, you are 18 and are given this ability, this chance to vote. But you aren’t given any education on what principles you should be voting for.

“If I vote this year, I hope my vote will help achieve change on a wider scale.

“I hope to see a shift in focus – a lot more focus on alleviating a lot of the problem we see, in terms of poverty, education as all these things that have kind of fallen by the wayside.

“I’d like to to say the current government, ‘Stop focusing on the royal we and start focusing on the people.’

“The government is there to protect its people and I don’t feel the government currently does that.”