Loyalty, poverty, desperation, and hope: What we found in the provinces

2019-05-08 07:56
elections 2019
Elections posters adorn a lamp pole at the entrance to Barberton, Mpumalanga  ~ Kyle Cowan

Loyalty, apartheid-style evictions, desperate poverty, and hope of renewal. These are just some of the themes which will define Wednesday's election for South Africans.

News24 canvassed the length and breadth of the country to hear first-hand what South Africans want from these elections.

We found stories of despair and hopelessness; of people eking out a living and cooking peanuts for supper. But we also found pockets of promise, with new political parties and the ANC's promises of renewal presenting a glimmer of hope on the horizon for many voters.

Here is a round-up of our best election stories:


Theo Kruger. (Kyle Cowan)

In Mpumalanga, where only 1.3 million people voted in 2014, News24 reporter Kyle Cowan found people disillusioned with politics. Many people live lives which are very detached from the issues talked about at urban dinner tables in Cape Town or Johannesburg.

Many do not feel the result would impact their lives in any significant way. Very few even know that their home-grown leader David Mabuza is now the deputy president of the country.

READ: Politics of nonchalance in the Mpumalanga backyard of David Mabuza

Cynthia Smith. (Tammy Petersen, News24)
Cynthia Smith. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

In the Western Cape, traditionally considered a DA stronghold, former DA leader Patricia de Lille's new GOOD party has many followers in Mitchells Plain. Bedevilled by crime and gangsterism, some DA supporters are likely to follow her to her new political home. Many people feel fed up with unemployment, crime and poverty, but it seems unlikely that the ANC will win much support here.

READ: 'It's like crossing a line from the rich to us' - Mitchells Plain residents mull who to vote for

Nomabongo Sweetness May
Nomabongo Sweetness May. (Jenni Evans, News24)

News24 found the painful effects of apartheid evictions still lingering in Paarl, where being evicted from their homes in the democratic era has brought back painful memories for some residents.

READ: 'I am going to vote but my heart is still sore' - mom living in tent in Paarl after eviction

Evictions, Red Ants, Evictees

Mamelodi residents wait around on the side of the road with their belongings after being evicted from the apartments in the background. (Photographer: Alex Mitchley)

These effects could also be found in Mamelodi, where residents faced evictions from the Red Ants, also harking back to apartheid's darkest days. Some said the ANC had committed political suicide.

READ: 'There will be no voting in Mamelodi' - residents warn after being evicted

Small girl child seats on the stoep of her one roo

Small girl child seats on the stoep of her one-roomed home which she shares with 6 of her siblings and parents in Vuwani. (Pelane Phakgadi, News24)

In Vuwani, Limpopo, News24 found people tired of being visited by politicians who only seem interested in them come election season. We found abject poverty and a family barely able to feed themselves.

READ: 'I don't know what I'm voting for' - poor and hungry, 9 people live in one room

A group of physically disabled supporters gather t
A group of physically disabled supporters gather to hear EFF leaders address supporters at the Orlando Stadium on May 5, 2019. (Photo: Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)

At the EFF's final rally in Soweto on Sunday, News24 met a man who will vote for the first time on May 8, after spending 13 years in prison for rape. He is one of many supporters of the up-and-coming opposition party that day, buoyed by the EFF's promises of an increase in social grants and promises of a better future.

READ: Ex-con relishes first vote: 'My ID is safe and I don't want to lose it'

Nomsa Nhlapo (second from left) and friends in hig
Nomsa Nhlapo (second from left) and friends in high spirits as they make their way to Ellis Park Stadium on May 5, 20190, for the ANCs Siyanqoba Rally. (Photo: Azarrah Karrim, News24)

At the ANC's rally at Ellis Park Stadium, News24 found die-hard ANC supporters who believe the governing party has changed their lives. Many felt hopeful about President Cyril Ramaphosa's "New Dawn" and are hoping for the party to return to the Union Buildings with a majority by the end of the week.

READ: 'There will be no voting in Mamelodi' - residents warn after being evicted

Emily Maeza ready to vote in the upcoming election
Emily Maeza ready to vote in the upcoming elections. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

The ANC's support was also evident in Mahikeng in the North West, where News24 found people undeterred by the allegations of corruption levelled against many ANC leaders. While the EFF has some support in the North West, News24 found many ANC loyalists, grateful for the governing party's successes since 1994.

READ: 'If the ANC dies, I will also die' - North West resident

President Cyril Ramaphosa (File)

The Free State brought similar levels of support for the governing party. Victims of grand corruption – the Vrede Dairy farm beneficiaries – seemed determined to continue to vote for the ANC despite the impact of graft on their daily lives. But the EFF also seemed to have much support there, with some residents saying the red berets might get their vote provincially, with Cyril Ramaphosa's "New Dawn" getting the national vote.

READ: 'We cannot see any other hope' apart from ANC - Vrede dairy farm beneficiaries

Thulisile Mboyazwe at her makeshift stall in Libod
Thulisile Mboyazwe at her makeshift stall in Libode, Eastern Cape. (Lerato Sejake/News24)

In the Eastern Cape, it is clear that the UDM is a major player. But News24 also heard from people how felt ignored by national politics, and weren't going to vote at all.

READ: 'I want a president who is in touch with his people' – Eastern Cape voter

Thembelani Mditshwa
Thembelani Mditshwa outside his home in the community of Sibangweni, outside Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. (Kamva Somdyala, News24)

In Mthatha, many more people felt let down by several elections which did not bring change for those who are poor.

READ: My ID shows how many times I've voted, but I have nothing to show for it - Mthatha man tired of empty promises

Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.

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