Soweto's Vilakazi Street in party mode after polls

2016-08-03 22:34
Katlego Lekarapa sells souvenirs and African print fabric and clothes. (News24)

Johannesburg - On Soweto's historic Vilakazi Street, a party of another kind was brewing as election day drew to a close in the late afternoon.

Seating was becoming difficult to find after 15:00 as those who voted - as well as those who didn't - used the public holiday to go for a leisurely lunch or spend time with friends at the entertainment hub.

Vilakazi Street is famous for being the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners - former President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Hlengweyinkosi Dube, who was trying out bicycles at a local bike hire shop, said he hadn't voted but had come from Randburg to be in the neighbourhood.

"I don't like politicians, they are stupid," the 37-year-old said as he rode off.

But Resego, 49, and her companion, JB, 55, said they had been to vote and went to Soweto for lunch at Sakhumzi Restaurant followed by a leisurely stroll through the street.

Service delivery

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Resego, who voted in Radiokop, said she had been sure for a while about who she would vote for.

"The thing that made me decide who to vote for is who will add value to my life. If the roads are fixed in one day, who is able to do that, for example," she said.

Resego said she looked at areas where such service delivery happened without protests.

JB voted in his ward in Benoni, where he said the queue was short.

"Things went chop-chop, but even if I had to stand in the queue longer, I would have because this is the only way we can change the country," he said.

JB said he voted for a certain party in his ward "to give them a better chance to win" and another in the municipality.

Corruption under the ANC

Both said they did not make their choice based on history, but rather on who would provide the best services. "People should let history rest in peace," they agreed.

A few metres up the road, two French journalists from Paris were visiting former president Nelson Mandela's house.

Neither of them came for the elections. David Martin, whose work is in television documentaries, said he had learnt about the elections on the plane to South Africa on Tuesday night.

"I know that you are having your municipal elections. I will read the article in Le Monde tonight," he said.

Freelance photographer Genaro Bardy said that on the plane and in the car on the way to Soweto they were told that South Africa had much corruption under the African National Congress. Their driver said he would vote Democratic Alliance.

Jane Monakwane, in her 30s, who works at Mandela House, said she had gone to vote earlier in the day.

"This time it was difficult to decide because previously we just vote ANC, but now we have the DA and the EFF too," she said. The decision was more difficult this time because many people were unhappy about the ANC's service delivery.

Good business

She said the house was busy, but nobody came in political colours on Wednesday, just tourists - local and foreign.

"Normally when it is a holiday, there are more people," she said.

Her colleague, Nokukhanya Senye, 23, said she still had to go and vote, but that it was “most definitely” easy to decide. She looked at the promises politicians made and who would fulfil them.

Lower down the street, Katlego Lekarapa, who sells souvenirs and African print fabric and clothes, including ANC khangas, said business was good.

He had, however, by late afternoon not sold more than the usual ANC garments. "I am here until 20:00 or 21:00, and then the restaurants are out, but so far business is good," he said.

Lekarapa said he kept only ANC colours at his stall "because this is an ANC ward, you know".

He said there were only ANC colours visible on the street on election day. On Sunday however, the Economic Freedom Fighters had come to flaunt its colours in the street. They even told his mother, who runs the stall with him, to take off her ANC doek.

"They came in a big motorcade and following," he said.

Lekarapa said he voted earlier in the day, and showed off the black mark on his thumb.

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