This year marks the 20th year of South Africa’s young democracy. I have vivid remembrances of that day in 1994, the first time the majority of South Africans were able to vote for the first time. People stood in long snaking queues for hours. Nobody minded because those hours were nothing compared to the decades of struggle it took to get South Africa to that point.
This year, on the 7th May, we have another National election, and it’s the first time the “born frees” (those born after 1994) will be exercising their vote. The website of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa states that 80.5% of the eligible voting population are registered to vote.
Yesterday I spoke to an expat couple from Spain who said that voter turnout on election days in Spain has been gradually dropping due to various reasons, not least of which is dissatisfaction at the government’s handling of the country’s financial situation.
Out of the 80.5% registered voters in South Africa, we will only find out on the 7th May how many actually turn up to vote on the day. I hope that, unlike Spain and other European countries, many South Africans will exercise their right to vote and turn up at the polls on the day.
I admit to being a news geek and addicted to politics, locally and around the world. I have kept up to date with the unfolding situation in the Ukraine, and been more than alarmed at the reports coming out of Venezuela.
And that’s just this week, adding to the woes of a world increasingly at odds with itself. I majored in Political Science at university, and once, a long, young and naive time ago, I still thought of doing something with it. I don’t regret never having gone into a related field, although I sometimes toy with the idea of going into politics.
But that idea is short-lived because I have no illusions about the sacrifices and compromises even well intentioned politicians have to make. So I’m happy remaining a closet political analyst.