Thembelani Mditshwa outside his home in the community of Sibangweni, outside Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. (Kamva Somdyala, News24)
"My ID book is full of stickers from the IEC to show that I have been voting since we were allowed to, but I have nothing to show for trusting the ruling party with my vote."
Thembelani Mditshwa stands at his gate in Sibangweni, just outside of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape as he reflects on how his family and community have been neglected by the local King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality - controlled by the ANC.
"I am reaching a stage where I will soon grow tired of the ANC and its empty promises over the past 25 years," he says in isiXhosa as he wags his finger.
"Every lead up to elections we are inundated with promises which never materialise into delivery.”
Mditshwa says after elections, they won’t see a single politician, but during this period “politicians have been in our faces, wanting votes".
He says promises include jobs and houses. Currently, he says they have access to electricity and water.
"We continued to vote for the ANC [in the past] because that is a party with deep-rooted history and a party that was fought for. It is the party of the old man, Nelson Mandela."
As the elderly man speaks, his wife, a few neighbours and children listen in, nodding at every word Mditshwa utters.
'The party needs to self-correct'
Mditshwa stays in a mud house with his wife and children. "I can’t tell you how many years I've been staying here. It’s been many, many years.
"But look at how we have been treated. I don’t have a job, my wife doesn’t have a job. We have children to feed. What kind of father can’t even take care of his family? Are you a father if you can’t take care of your family?" he asks. He pauses, then answers: "No, you’re not."
Without hesitation though, he says he will still vote.
"I will vote, but the party needs to self-correct. We are nearing a point where we are getting tired of empty promises and thus, our votes will have to find an alternative."
Some kilometres from Mditshwa, Siziwe Madikiza is about to hang up some socks on her washing line.
Inside her home, her 5-year-old great-grandchild takes a nap.
She says the young boy stays with her because she’s old and needs someone to stay with. Her children, she says, have all moved on and have started their own families.
'1994 was a new day, and we continue to pray'
"After years and years on the move, I decided to move back home [to Mthatha]. As a young woman, I travelled to Johannesburg where I lived for many years – part and parcel of the many demonstrations against apartheid, but I had to come back and set up at home to enjoy this freedom that we now enjoy," says Madikiza.
"I will continue to vote because I am buoyed by my first opportunity to vote in 1994. It was a new day," she says, her face lighting up. "[It was] a day we remain nostalgic about and, like then, we will continue to pray that these elections bring about a new day."
Madikiza says she has been watching how South Africa has been since that day. She says the country has been in a dark place, but come May 8, "it is up to us, the older generation to pray for our leaders so that they do not concern themselves with money and greed but rather the upliftment of the country."
That upliftment, she says, starts with education.
"Education must be prioritised for the betterment of this country. Add to that, the leader must ask for guidance and wisdom from God to be able to take this country forward."
She says she is particularly encouraged that those implicated in corrupt activities are being "exposed daily".
"Now, we are again praying for guidance as we vote so that we see the country grow," she concludes.
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