I just can’t bring myself to vote ANC

2014-04-22 10:00

Over the past month, I finally decided I was not going to vote for the ANC.

It’s a thought I’ve been toying with, but never saw as a possibility. Like many South Africans, the ties that bind are just too tight.

I knew I was going to vote for the ANC before I reached the legal voting age.

At 15, I went with my parents to the school down the street from our home to see them vote for the first time in 1994.

Our voting station in Pimville, Soweto, did not have the snaking lines of people that you see in those iconic images, but there was the same euphoria that was pumping through the country.

Like many black kids my age, I was impatient to make my mark. It was not just the opportunity to vote; it was the opportunity to vote for the ANC.

When the next election came, I was of voting age and made my cross next to Thabo Mbeki’s face?–?without hesitation. I did the same in the next election.

But by 2009, I was starting to feel unsure about my decision. I lingered in that ballot box.

In the most recent local election, I waited until the last hour to vote, my pen even hovered over the DA.

I think I eventually voted for the United Democratic Movement?–?my first defection.

Last year, when I told a friend I would vote for no one but the ANC in the 2014 elections, she scoffed at me and said: “You can’t be serious.”

Much has changed for the better, I argued. The ANC is not just about one leader, I added, but the whole party.

For years I’d given myself these and many other reasons for voting for the ANC. But should I keep congratulating a government for doing its job? Surely we, the citizens, are already paying the government?

Privately, I had been telling myself I did not want to be one of the privileged classes complaining at the dinner table with no knowledge of what was happening on the ground.

Still, I have not been able to quell this sickening feeling that’s been creeping up on me.

In the last month, it all came to a head with the Nkandla report.

I’m disgusted by Jacob Zuma’s show of excess. I hear him being called a man of the people, but this conflicts with the figure I see.

A man who marries like a chief and has a small kingdom built under his feet without, he says, having asked for it.

Most nauseating are the ministers who shield him at all costs.

How then is the party different from its leader? The reality slapped me across the face.

It looks like I’m going to spend a little longer in the ballot box next month.

There aren’t any easy answers on that sheet because I don’t feel the next great hope is among us, despite the DA’s Obamaesque campaign.

But I can’t be held to ransom by my own sense of historical nostalgia either.

That feeling from 20 years ago will never be recreated.

So I’m going to keep my eyes wide open as I make that cross in May, if only not to make the mistake of hovering over Jacob Zuma’s face.

Follow me on Twitter @joonji

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