Winnie Madikizela-Mandela after voting in Orlando West Secondary School (Carien du Plessis)
Johannesburg - Struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said voting on Wednesday made her remember “those who are no longer with us”.
Dressed in dark blue and yellow with a light blue headdress, she arrived to vote at the Orlando West Secondary School in Soweto just after lunch.
Moving slowly due to recent knee operations, she was in a pensive mood after casting her ballot in the small classroom, amid a media scrum and ululations from local and provincial African National Congress activists accompanying her.
“To me the struggle was all about the right to vote and the right to have a choice, and that South Africans must choose a government they deserve,” she told News24.
“Of course, every time I put that cross on the paper I think of all those who are not here with us and those who didn’t make it back home and gave up their lives for the struggle.
“Although it is a wonderful thing to vote, at the same time it is a very painful process and you remember the number of those who have lost their lives and who are no longer with us, and they contributed so much to the history of this country and we ought to remember them every time we put that cross on that piece of paper.”
READ ELECTION WRAP: Politicos and the people mingle on voting day
Condemning election violence
Today’s elections are the second in South Africa after the death of Madikizela-Mandela’s former husband, Nelson Mandela, in December 2013.
The ANC and the Democratic Alliance invoked his name during their election campaigns, both in 2014 and this year, giving rise to a debate on who the rightful heirs to his legacy were.
Madikizela-Mandela had been outspoken about the violence in the lead-up to the elections.
“I really pray that that has come to an end,” she said when asked about the violence.
“This was no time for skop, skiet and donner elections. There was no reason whatsoever for the type of violence we have seen in 2016. It is an utter disgrace and a very bad reflection on South Africa and I think we all feel very, very bad about it, all South Africans.”
Asked about the violence accompanying the ANC’s selection of ward candidates, which had led to the death of more than 20 councillor candidates, Madikizela-Mandela said: “I think it is late now to say anything. I’m just hoping that every South African is going to vote for candidates of their choice and the party of their choice and the party that will come into power in the municipalities will just deliver. That is all we need now.
“The question for differences among us has passed and South Africa should be united in our wish to improve the economy of the country so we better the lives of our people.”
She warned that SA was facing a difficult time and she was very worried about the economy. She hoped people would get the government they deserved.
“And I hope that every South African is wishing for a better South Africa after these elections. After all, municipalities are the machinery of the state to deliver. What we must all be worried about is the state of the economy. I think every South African is worried about the weakness of the rand and the fact that a government that leads this country must deliver this time around.”
After voting, ANC supporters helped her back to her car and shouted “amandla” as she got in.
Madikizela-Mandela, considered to be one of the party’s most royal stalwarts, attended the ANC’s final elections rally in Ellis Park on Sunday and sat with the ANC’s top six leadership.
As a parting shot after voting, she said she heard the weather would be bad, and urged South Africans to go and vote before it deteriorated later in the day.
A cold breeze was blowing in Soweto, but otherwise it was sunny.
International diplomats who observed her voting said they had seen no problems and that everything went smoothly.
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