My vote counts. Does yours?

2009-04-21 00:00

Daniel Bailey (28): researcher

Jacob Zuma has brought the ANC into disrepute. That’s why I won’t vote for the ANC again. He’s brought with him a cloud of scandal, fraud and corruption. Now he says the judiciary may have to be “looked at”.

For me, he’s a South African version of former U.S. president George W. Bush. So I will not be voting for Zuma.

If it weren’t for Zuma, I would vote for the ANC. There’s no other option, really. The situation leaves me in a dilemma. I’ll probably end up voting for Cope (I’m quite positive about Mvume Dandala; I’ve met him and I like him) or for the ID; certainly not the DA.

It’s difficult to say what’s going to happen in South Africa because we don’t know what Zuma is likely to do. He could change the Constitution, declare a war on those who are not Zulu, invade Zimbabwe … He’s a loose cannon.

I am disappointed in the ANC. It’s not just JZ — it’s also the barring of the Dalai Lama and the cancellation of the peace conference.

The ANC has done well in the past, although they could have done better. They’ve delivered a lot in terms of housing and infrastructure, but they’ve also been mired in corruption. And there’s the problem of human rights abuses, even though we have a Constitution that is supposed to protect the rights of ordinary people. In a constitutional democracy, in some places we can’t even give people water.

And then Jacob Zuma turns around and says that if you take a shower after sex with an HIV-positive woman, you will be fine!

All I can really do is try to prevent a two-thirds majority by the ANC. If they had Matthews Phosa or anybody [as their leader], I would vote ANC again.

Who am I?

TWENTY-EIGHT-year-old Daniel Bailey is a researcher for the Built Environment Support Group in Pietermaritzburg. Bailey has an MSc degree in land reform and has previously worked at the farmer support group and the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions.

He’s also worked and lived in England and Japan, and has travelled extensively in southern and East Africa. Today, Bailey lives in Hilton and has a one-month-old baby daughter.

Babs Bepat (63): neighbourhood watch chair

I’ve always followed Rajbansi’s career, and over the years I have been impressed with his speeches. He is sharp and always manages to come out top in any debate.

I never expected his party to last this long. I was invited to attend a local MF meeting and I was surprised to see the party had a strong following in Pietermaritzburg. I had always thought they were just a Durban party. I started following the discussions on Radio Lotus and I believe the Minority Front is making inroads into other parts of the province and among all race groups.

I think he ran one of the best campaigns in this election. The MF is a party with a future and this is why it is getting my vote.

I also believe that there is space for minority parties in a democracy. India has got 32 minority parties. Rajbansi has always said he will work with the ruling party to represent the interests of the minorities. If you are part of a big party you can just get swallowed up.

Rajbansi is one of the most astute politicians around and gives everyone a run for their money. I am confident he will represent my interests well. He was in this radio debate in the Truro Hall and the DA attacked him, saying he had joined the ANC. He told them straight, he did not join the ANC, instead the ANC joined him.

He still lives in Chatsworth among the poor, he is in touch with the community and knows them in and out. The Tiger is my man, he is getting my vote.

Who am I?

Babs Bepat (63) loves Pietermaritzburg. He was born in New Hanover but grew up in the city attending Woodlands High School. Like many in the Indian community, he started his career in the shoe industry at Richleigh Shoes.

He then moved to Abderdare Cables (then Scottish Cables), where he has been for 38 years.

Today he is a raw materials store controller. He formed the Scottish Cables United Football Club in 1973, which is affiliated to the Industrial Football League. Since 1999, much of his time has been spent chairing the Belfort Neighbourhood Watch.

He is also involved in the community policing forum. This year, for the first time, Bepat’s vote is going to Amichand Rajbansi’s “The Tiger’s” Minority Front.

Njabulo Hlophe (27): unemployed

I’m unemployed. I used to be a van assistant who helped deliver bread for a well-known bread company, but on June 2, 2007 my life changed for the worse. That day, we took off on our delivery route and while travelling in Escourt, the truck lost its brakes. It overturned and the driver and the other passenger died. I got lucky because I survived, but I sustained leg and arm injuries. I still struggle to use my left arm and my leg still bears the scars.

After leaving hospital, I stayed home for four months with no pay. When I went back to the company for compensation, they gave me the runaround. I’m still waiting for them to pay damages, but every time I go there they are too busy.

I will be voting for the first time this year. I never had time to register for the previous elections and besides, back then I didn’t see the point of voting. Since 1994 things have changed, but only for the select few. Mbeki was not a good president and I’m sure that once Zuma takes over, he will be a much better leader.

I think the fact that Zuma is not as learned as most presidents is irrelevant because he’s a natural leader. I’m a big Zuma supporter because he fights for the people and he knows hardship.

Once Zuma is in power things will change for the better. As for the IFP, they are finished in this province. Zuma has eroded their support base.

Who am I?

Njabulo Hlophe lives in Sobantu. He lives alone and has no children. One day, he hopes to get married, have children and run his own business. He firmly believes that voting for the ANC will secure him a ticket to the good life.

With Zuma in power, Hlophe is certain that food costs will come down, more people will get government housing and job prospects will increase. Hlophe got his job as a van assistant through a job placement agency.

Although he earned R4 000 a month, by the time he received his salary his take-home pay amounted to R1 500. Hlophe says the agency claimed they were entitled to a large portion of his salary because without their assistance he would not have gotten his job to begin with.

His employers failed to register him with the Unemployment Insurance Fund and Hlophe relies on hand-outs to get by.

Ishana Menchero (Née Hassim) (46): B&B owner

Today the people have the choice to put a cross to choose a government that can rule righteously, for Proverbs 29 v2 says: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan”.

Hugo Grotius, an 18th century Dutch scholar, said: “He knows not how to rule a kingdom that cannot manage a province, nor can he wield a province that cannot order a city, nor he order a city that knows not how to regulate a village, nor he a village that cannot guide a family, nor can that man govern well a family that knows not how to govern himself, neither can he govern himself unless he be ruled by God, and be obedient to him”.

I am guided by the principles set by Grotius and encourage people to think about the principles of good governance, as set out in the quote by him.

I believe that a man must be able to guide his family before he can be tasked with guiding the nation.

We have a great country with a bright future, and God is calling South Africa to be a shining light to Africa.

I urge people to make the right choice when they go to the polls because we need righteous leaders to lead us.

Who am I?

Ishana Menchero was born in Stanger in 1962. She grew up in Pietermaritzburg, where she was part of the struggle as an activist. During that time she also worked in education.

She completed her BA Law degree in 1988, and in 1992 she completed her LLB. She is married to Dr Mario Menchero, a naturalised South African citizen from Cuba. They have four children who are 24, 19, 18, and 6.

She owns Caribe Caribe Bed and Breakfast and Conference Centre in Prestbury. She also works for Ishana Hassim Associate Attorneys, who have been helping the Zimbabwean refugees detained in Pietermaritzburg. She and her family are devout Christians.

Roslyn Barnes (38): Forest Hill Primary teacher

Certainly I will vote. I know which political party I will be voting for. Firstly, voting is my right as a citizen of this country. I wish the party that will be in government would inject more money into the Education Department. In the last few years the department has grown, but some schools are not meeting the odds.

They do not receive stationery on time or pay their electricity on time. Other schools face the challenges of HIV and Aids. These make it hard for schools to sustain themselves and that affects education. With more money, education would be enhanced. It is my passion to work with children. I come to school every day with the aim of making a difference in a child’s life.

While some of the learners are naughty, they are willing to learn — some have learning disabilities, others are orphans and others come from areas that are out of town to learn and they do not miss classes when it’s cold. We, the school, try our best to make the learning environment better for the learners.

I am confident that my party will address what directly affects schools and issues affecting South Africans, but my fears are that it will take longer for them to do so.

Who am I?

The grade four English lesson is under way at the Forest Hill Primary School in Woodlands on a cold day before the 2009 elections. School teacher Roslyn Barnes is teaching her learners nouns and the students are quiet and follow her instructions. She has been a teacher for 16 years.

She believes that Forest Hill Primary is a good school and she mentions that some high school teachers have complimented her school for shaping disciplined pupils. Her voice engulfs the classroom when she issues instructions to learners.

The classroom is clean and the learners all smile and stand up when I enter the classroom.

Barnes greets me with a smile and turns to her pupils, telling them that they should complete an exercise in silence while she talks to me about what she hopes the next government will do for schools.

Throughout the interview Barnes comes across as warm and friendly person who listens attentively before responding to questions posed to her. The pupils go about their classwork. Barnes smiles when she is asked whether she will vote in today’s elections.

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