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Homeless, powerless, but still loyal

Amanda Strydom

"Today the ANC will know we are still loyal and they will give us what they promised," said Prelicia, standing in the voting queue in Zandspruit.

“Today the ANC will know we are still loyal and they will give us what they promised,” said Prelicia (50), standing in the voting queue on a dusty road in Zandspruit, northwest of Johannesburg.

She said her living conditions had not improved in the five years she had been living in Zandspruit in a shack with no water or electricity. “Housing is a priority and we really need water and electricity, but I won’t change my vote. Since 1994 it has been ANC and it will stay ANC,” she said.

Last month police made 16 arrests and fired rubber bullets during a protest against the lack of housing and sanitation in Zandspruit. On Wednesday the queues of voters appeared to ignore a significant police presence that included low-flying military helicopters and nyalas (armoured personnel carriers).

Colbert (30) glanced warily at the police as he waited to cast his vote. He said he was angry that ANC ward councillor Maureen Schneeman had been allowed to stand for election, but was willing to give her another chance.

At the back of the queue two young women were not so forgiving. Said Charlene (26): “I don’t even know who our ward councillor was or who the nominees are. If they haven’t managed [to do anything] in five years, what could they do in the next?”

Her friend, Emelda Bok (24), agreed: “These people queuing here would be stupid to vote for the same people again.”

Another voting station, at a clinic a few blocks away, had fewer police and hardly anyone in the queue. Policemen standing around began to look lively when the deputy minister of higher education and training, Hlengiwe Mkhize, arrived. Her black Range Rover stood out in the dusty streets.

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