25 years into democracy, elections continue to divide society

2019-04-27 19:10
Three generation: Hilda Cunningham (72), Pamela Cunningham (23) and Ayanda Ciliza (38)

Three generation: Hilda Cunningham (72), Pamela Cunningham (23) and Ayanda Ciliza (38) (Pamela Cunningham)

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“It is better to vote for the devil we know than the devil we do not know or rather the devil that we heard about,” – 2nd generation, Ayanda Ciliza (38)

Forever bonded by blood, three generations of women hailing from Clermont, KwaZulu-Natal, prove why politics is one of society's great dividers.

Three generations of voters from KwaZulu-Nata

Pamela Cunningham with her grandmother, Hilda Cunnigham, and her mother, Ayanda Ciliza. (Supplied: Pamela Cunningham)

In many ways the Cunningham household in which 23-year-old LLB student Pamela, her mother Ayanda Ciliza (38) and grandmother Hilda (72) live is reflective of South Africa: young versus old, hope versus fear, and questioning the current state of affairs versus accepting the status quo.

The first and second generation [Hilda and Ciliza] who have experienced South Africa through its pre- and post-apartheid lens remain despondent while the third generation [Pamela], who was born into the new dispensation, feels that a necessary change in the country's political landscape is on the horizon.

Elderly pensioner Hilda was first afforded the right to vote in 1994. At the time she believed that this would be symbolic of a change in South Africa, but she was deeply let down.

"My first vote in 1994 did not change my life. The political party I had voted for in 1994 let me down so I changed to another political party," she explained.

Despite a static trend in her life since 1994, the hope that a vote can still effect change still lives in her.

"I am still hoping for this change. I am hoping and praying that this vote does make a difference and that more people head to the polls and vote responsibly," Hilda concluded.

For her daughter-in-law, Ciliza, the upcoming elections are yet another farce as this 38-year-old has seen no change in South Africa.

"From 1994 until now I have not seen real change in so many things. I would not say I am excited to vote again, but yes, I will be voting for the same party again in these elections," she said.

This vote for her is not to effect change but to ensure that power is not returned to what she describes as the "oppressor".

"For the sake of avoiding being led by white people who are going to oppress us and look at us as monkeys, it is better the devil we know than the devil we do not know or rather the devil that we heard about.

"If we do not vote we will go back to the same oppression that our parents had to endure before us," she said.

Three generations of voters from KwaZulu-Nata

Pamela Cunningham (right) and her mother Ayanda Ciliza at her Graudation in March, 2018

(Supplied: Pamela Cunningham)

Fast forward 25 years, and her daughter, University of the Witwatersrand student Pamela Cunningham, is eligible to cast her first vote.

"I have decided to vote because I am eligible to vote for the first time this year. I have decided to take a stand and actually do something about the problems I have in terms of political parties that are voted into power," Pamela said.

Regardless of the plight of the youth in South Africa, she remains hopeful that this 'x' on the highly contested ballot paper will indeed effect change that will benefit her, as well as her peers for years to come.

"I think my vote matters 25 years later because however I decide to vote now will have an impact on the country's future which is the youth," she said.

As a young student working towards the completion of her post-graduate degree, Pamela has her eyes set on a political party that will directly prioritise issues affecting the youth.

"Focus on the youth as opposed to looking at the country's bigger issues. This neglects the fact that the youth is suffering at the hands of our government. There are so many unemployed graduates in our country that are accused of being lazy when there are actually simply no jobs available to young graduates," she says.

The political party (she will vote for) has these ideals on paper, and should they be voted into power it will do a world of good for the youth.

"I hope that once I graduate from Wits, the political party that will be in power would be the one that I have voted for.

"I hope that this political party will stay true to their goals set out in their manifesto and what they stand for with respect to the youth," she concluded.

Read more on:    elections 2019
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