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White voters voice unease over ANC

2014-05-07 20:47

Pretoria - Holding his green identity book tight in his hand, Adriaan Courdier stands in line to cast the first vote of his life.

He is one of a minority of poor whites using Wednesday's election to voice their unease with today's South Africa.

The 23-year-old aluminium factory worker is voting with the "born frees", a generation of South Africans born after the end of apartheid in 1994.

"My family all agree, for 20 years already nothing has happened," said Courdier, a resident of Danville, a destitute suburb of Pretoria. 

"Some of my family are homeless, they don't have jobs, they are living on the street," said Courdier.

"My one boss is black. He is driving a [R400 000] Amarok and he has a Mercedes and a BMW at home. "I wish it was me."

Courdier is one of millions of South Africans expected to vote against the ANC on Wednesday in polls marked by growing dissatisfaction as the country grapples with sluggish economic growth and high unemployment.

In contrast with young black voters, who appear set to again reward the ANC for winning their freedom, young whites show no such sense of loyalty.

"I don't think the ANC have been able to attract the white vote post-1994, precisely because whites in South Africa are uncertain about their future in a country governed by a black-led party," said University of Pretoria political scientist Mzukisi Qobo.

The trend will be amplified in this election, said Qobo, a result of high-profile ANC corruption and mismanagement scandals.

"There has also been a not-so-subtle anti-white rhetoric from some of the leaders of the ANC," he said, "which many people find a put-off."

Whites earn on average six times more than blacks in South Africa, but those in Danville paint a different picture of white life in Africa's second-largest economy.

At eight o'clock in the morning, scruffy blonde children in bare feet were standing with their parents in the voting queue, snacking on potato chips out of a bag.

"Sometimes I think it was better, before 1994," said Ockert van der Berg, a 18-year-old "born free," "but you know the bad stuff that happened".

Van der Berg, a soft-spoken student wearing shorts and a black fleece sweater, said he has dreams of becoming a pilot but believes it will be an uphill battle to find work.

"They said the new South Africa is not about the colour of your skin," he said, "they said the new South Africa would not be racist, but you're told you're the wrong colour for the job."

Martin Smit, another first-time voter, said he cast his vote for the Freedom Front Plus, a party that primarily represents Afrikaans voters.

"Because every time we are in trouble you can call on them," said 20-year-old Smit, "they help us, whether it's a power failure or a hijacking."

The disillusionment with the current government is not exclusive to whites, said William Gumede, political analyst and chair of Democracy Works, a Johannesburg-based non-profit organisation advocating for good governance in South Africa.

"Unless you have a clear link with the government, you're feeling disenfranchised now."

."If you are working in the private sector, if you are working class, not many things have happened," said Gumede, a man in his 40s who as a student protested against apartheid and campaigned for an ANC-led government.

"So there aren't many things people are looking forward to."

Read more on: pretoria  |  elections 2014

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