Navigating South Africa’s election maze

Published Apr 11, 2024


By Bongani Nicholas Ngomane

As South Africa gets ready for its biggest elections since 1994, there’s a buzz in the air about how political parties are trying to win our hearts and minds. But behind the shiny ads and catchy slogans lies a deeper story — one about how marketing can sometimes lead us down the wrong path.

Think about it: just like how companies try to sell us stuff, politicians try to sell us their ideas. But here’s the catch: sometimes, those ideas don’t match up with reality. And guess who gets caught in the middle? Yep, it’s us, the voters.

Now, imagine you’re not super clued up on all the political stuff. Maybe you don’t have easy access to information or maybe you’re just too busy with life to dig into it all. That’s when those flashy ads and persuasive speeches start to seem extra convincing. But here’s the thing: they might not always be telling us the whole story.

See, South Africa has come a long way since the days of apartheid, but that doesn’t mean everything’s peachy now. We have big gaps between rich and poor, and some folks are left feeling like they’re not getting a fair shake. It’s like we’ve made progress, but there’s a long road ahead.

When election time rolls around, it's like a big show. People from all walks of life — whether they live in fancy houses or humble shacks — line up bright and early to cast their vote. It's a chance to have a say in how things are run, to make our voices heard.

But here’s where it gets tricky. Every five years, politicians come knocking with promises of change and better days ahead. They tell us what we want to hear, painting a picture of a brighter future. And hey, who doesn’t want things to get better?

But are they really delivering on those promises? That’s the million-dollar question. Sometimes it feels like we're being sold a dream, only to wake up to the same old reality.

And that brings us to the big question: Are we just another market for politicians to target? Are they treating South Africa like a business, more concerned with making a sale than making a difference?

As we head into another election, let’s remember that we hold the power. It’s not about falling for flashy ads or empty promises; it’s about demanding real change from those who want our vote.True democracy isn’t just about casting a ballot; it’s about holding our leaders accountable and fighting for a better tomorrow.

Let’s cut through the noise and focus on what really matters: building a South Africa that lives up to its promise — a place where everyone has a fair shot and nobody gets left behind. That’s the kind of change worth voting for.

Bongani Nicholas Ngomane is a PhD student at Wits, specialising in applied drama and public performance ethnography. With a Master of Arts degree in Applied Drama: Theatre in Education, Communities, and Social Context, Bongani has more than 15 years of experience in the creative and cultural industries.

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elections 2024