Cape Town - The upwardly-mobile set – the black diamonds – has become part and parcel of the country’s socio-economic fabric in the past 20 years. They are the black middle-class of South Africa.
They are young, educated and with opportunities their parents were deprived of during apartheid.
The Cape Argus spoke to three black diamonds yesterday as the country celebrated Freedom Day.
All three will be voting next week but for different reasons.
“It’s important to me that I vote, especially as a black person as I didn’t have that right before. Now I can choose who can represent me in government,” said Gontse Seakamela, a 31-year-old legal adviser.
For Seakamela, it’s imperative that the ANC wins in the national elections.
“They have done well over the years, especially in education. I don’t think I will be an attorney had it not been for the ANC.”
“I will vote for them because I want them to continue with the good they have done despite the latest mishaps,” said Seakamela, in reference to the Nkandla debacle.
But Seakamela will be drawing his X next to the DA on the regional ballot paper because he is “impressed” with how the political party is running the Western Cape.
He lives in a flat in Sea Point.
“I’m looking at the amenities, such as the streets. My vote is based on the evidence I have seen in my neighbourhood. But I do think they could do more for people who live in the townships… there is still a huge difference between us and people who live just 10km away in areas like Gugulethu,” he said.
He believes a lot still needs to be done to bridge the racial gap as the “playing fields are not yet levelled”.
“Being free does not mean ‘game over’. We have the opportunities now as black people but we still need to do our part and push to get to where we want to be,” he said.
The only reason Gugulethu marketing student Tabile Ponono will be stepping into a voting booth is because he is employed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as a voters’ assistant.
“I will be voting by default, If I wasn’t working for the IEC I wouldn’t be voting. I’ve voted before. You go there feeling hopeful about the future but nothing really changes after voting,” said the 30-year-old.
“Our current leaders do not care about other people. Corruption has been there since Thabo Mbeki’s days and they do not do anything about it,” he said.
As to who he will be voting for, Ponono is yet to decide. “I’m confused as to who to vote for. I grew up in an ANC house, but I can’t act as if I don’t see what is happening within the party. I feel trapped in this party and I do not know how to get out of it.”
Therefore Ponono is planning to spoil his ballot paper next week. “I don’t want to but I feel like I have to. I don’t feel like I’m free enough to vote for any other party… I need to teach them a lesson,” he said.
“It’s a case of being scared of the unknown. There are other black parties such as the PAC or Cope but I don’t feel like we are free to make those kind of choices yet. A lot of people, like me are not free from the ANC... yes, they did good but now they are not doing enough.”
The youngest in the group, in- terior designer, Zwai Lubisi, 26, of Green Point told the Cape Argus that initially he was planning to vote for the DA because he was impressed by what it had done for the city.
He listed the efficiency of public transport (the MyCiTi bus service) and the cleanliness of the CBD as some of the party’s successes.
When Lubisi told his mother, who lives in the Eastern Cape, his plans to vote for the DA she wasn’t impressed. “She told me should I vote for the DA, I will lose my house, my job and that white people will be in power again.
“On the other hand, I am a product of the ANC’s black economic empowerment (BEE). As a black person it is still very hard to break into my industry, but BEE forces some of the companies to hire a black designer, which gives us a chance.
“The racial divisions in the industry are still there. I still meet white people who say things like ‘you are so cool and you speak well for a black person.’ And some of them are actually surprised how I have adapted into their way of doing things,” he said.
Seakamela said the gap between rich and poor was still a major problem.
“The reality is that as long as we are economically separated we will never be integrated. I live in Sea Point because I am capable of paying the rent there… some people can’t,” he said.
“Twenty years into democracy and some black people are still packed outside the CBD, as if it’s the apartheid times… there will never be proper integration until the economic gap is dealt with.” - Cape Argus