The 1994 South African national elections was a start to democracy, a belief in equality and freedom. Freedom, the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without being limited or told by anyone.
Nineteen years later people are starting to question each other’s freedom to choose, associate and form their beliefs with a political party of their choice.
ANC voters in particular have been under extreme scrutiny from people who see the ANC less representing their interests. Very often, they discredit all the reasons the ANC supporters have.
The first reason being Apartheid, a reason that cuts across ANC constituencies. The ANC led the fight to freedom and defeated the apartheid government.
In its fight for freedom it gave people who were side-lined by the apartheid government especially blacks an equal human identity. It connected the youth and the old with shared dreams, beliefs and hopes about a prosperous South Africa in which everyone was an eqaul. The ANC saw people as “a people” in an institutionalised division society.
In 1994 a common citizenship and equal rights for all was South Africans was created by the ANC in a constitution that guarantees human rights for all, the rights to minimum standard of life, access to education, social service, food and water and social security.
An independent judiciary was created and active participation of citizen in decision making that effect their lives were promoted.
The ANC has fought for equality and freedom from discrimination on racial, gender, sexual orientation and any other grounds that infringe on human rights.
In addition the ANC fought for workers’ rights, collective bargaining, freedom of association and freedom of religion.
In its 19 years of government the ANC has pushed for all basic democratic principles, getting them enshrined in our constitution making it one of the best in the world.
There was never a time in South Africa where education, health, security and all other basic service were better than today.
Since 1994, South Africa’s matric pass rate and enrolment have been improving. The poor now have access to free education in schools and FET colleges. In universities, the government subsidizes fees for all South African students and allows the poor to access financial aid. NSFAS funding for loans and bursaries to students in universities and colleges has increased from R2.375 billion in 2008 to over R6 billion this year.
The 2011 census shows that our educational levels have increased significantly; the proportion of South Africans with a Grade 12 education or higher has risen from 28.8% in 2001 to 40.7% in 2011, an increase of 41.3%. A school participation rate of 7 to 15 year olds in 2011 was 98.8%.
Social grants are one of the reasons why other South Africans are not willing to lose by voting for another party. In 1996, only 3 million people had access to social grants. Today over 15 million have access. The majority of the country is poor and a many voters reside in rural areas. In rural areas there is usually no other source of income other than social grants. And many believe they get it from the ANC because it is the party in power.
From the worker in the mines of Gauteng, to the poor women who send their children in no fee schools, access social grants to support and ensure they stay in school; to the student at a South African university who uses NFSAS to fund his studies; to the old men who still has flash backs of his fight against apartheid; to the gays and lesbians which are seen African and human by our South African constitution; to the farm worker in Western Cape the ANC remains relevant and still remains their only hope for the future.
These people still share their beliefs, hope and dreams about the future with the ANC.
There is a growing judgement and questioning of why people base their choice of a political party on this from the liberal media, the middle class and the growing black professionals.
These people no longer see ANC’s defeat of the apartheid government as a good reason. They tend to overlook all progress made since 1994 which form part of the reasons why people continue voting for ANC and solely focus on corruption, maladministration and inefficiency of government administration.
Given that freedom is one’s power or right to speak, act, to choose without constraints and to associate ourselves with any group, movement or organisation; we should not undermine, judge or question people’s choice of a political home.
There are good valid and reasonable grounds to continue voting ANC. On the other hand, there are also reasonable grounds not to.
My point is, lets us stop dictating one’s choices based on what we believe is right or wrong.
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