Squatters will vote for change while others will boycott elections

Squatters in the Vaal say they are looking forward to voting for change while others say they won’t be voting on Wednesday. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/Independent Media

Squatters in the Vaal say they are looking forward to voting for change while others say they won’t be voting on Wednesday. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/Independent Media

Published May 26, 2024



Moses Tsetsengwa is fed up with empty promises. He believes a vote for change could improve their living conditions in Azania City, an informal settlement in the Vaal, south of Joburg.

Tsetsengwa, who was at a communal tap to fetch drinking water last week, said he was looking forward to election day on Wednesday.

South Africans will vote on Wednesday for the seventh general election since the dawn of democracy in 1994. The country will go to the polls amid concerns about unemployment, high interest and crime rates and power cuts.

According to Tsetsengwa, this is an opportunity to vote for a government that would bring change to his community.

The 27-year-old has access to water at a communal tap. The area has no electricity and no streets. Residents also have to rely on mobile toilets.

“It is very important for me and other young people to vote and have a say in the government. The current government has done nothing for us, especially the youth,” said Tsetsengwa.

He said his decision to vote for change has been influenced by a lack of development and unemployment in his community.

“The situation is worse in this area. We have no taps and toilets. The government has provided mobile toilets but they don’t flush,” he said.

Tsetsengwa is not the only one who believes a vote for change could save the situation.

Neighbour Thabo Mokheseng also said he would vote for change. He said he had faith in the ANC, but it has disappointed him. The 38-year-old father of two daughters said the party has forgotten about the people who elected it into power.

However, his wife Melida Mokheseng, said she still believed in the current government. The 35-year-old said no political party would do better than the ANC.

Mokheseng admitted that many people had lost hope in the ANC, saying the party needed a leader to come up with fresh ideas to redeem itself.

“I don’t think we need another political party in power. I think all we need is for the ANC to change leaders and bring in a young leader because the current one has a lot of things that are depressing.

“We need a young leader who understands the challenges facing young people. Most people who are living in this community are young people and they are unemployed,” she said.

Elder Mmasekele Keletsi also said she was disappointed with the current government, saying she has been living in a shack her entire life.

The 74-year-old said she has been voting for the ANC since 1994 but now wanted change.

“I am tired, I have been voting for these people but we are still struggling. I applied for an RDP but still live in a shack without water and electricity at my age. I don’t know who I will vote for... but not this one (ANC).

“It is also not healthy for a person my age to walk a distance for water. This shows that these people have done nothing for us,” she said.

There are 41.6 million South Africans who are over the age of 18 but only 66% – 27.6 million – are registered to vote, according to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). High unemployment, an ailing economy and political distrust have contributed to the decline as people such as Mokgadi Moshoadiba can attest.

Moshoadibahas opted to boycott the elections. She said this was because the government had done nothing to change her life for the better.

“It is a waste of time to vote because nothing will be done to change our lives after all. We keep voting, but we are not benefiting. There are no houses, water or anything in this area,” said the 40-year-old.

Her friend, Tumi Maloisane, 42, also added that she does not see the need to vote because she has never been employed in her entire life.

“The people come and promise us everything but forget us once they are elected to govern. Even worse, there are no job opportunities under the current government. I have four children, and I am struggling to take care of them because I am unemployed. These people just want to be in power and benefit their families and themselves,” she said.

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