Although only hours away from the country’s fourth general democratic elections, some South Africans remain undecided on which party they will vote for on April 22.
According to Ipsor-Markinor’s latest opinion poll “around one in every 10 (10%) of likely voters are still undecided”.
Political analyst Anneke Greyling says this is not unusual as “just under 10% of voters are usually undecided before election day.” The reasons vary, she explains. There is always a “hidden vote”.
These are the voters scared of revealing their party of choice. A party that benefits a lot from this, she says, is the Inkatha Freedom Party.
Undecided voters also believe there “is no political party that represents their view”.
Cynthia Khumalo, (23) is one such voter. Unlike the last elections in 2004, now, she is not really sure.
For Khumalo “Cope [Congress of the People] is an angry, greedy version of the ANC [African National Congress], whose main purpose is to avenge vendettas”.
She says the “ANC seems to have taken charge and though it’s quiet obvious they are in the lead they have spent lump sums campaigning instead of channelling money into development and poverty alleviation.”
The other parties don’t convince Khumalo either. The Democratic Alliance (DA), she says, also seems “anger-driven”.
“Sure the ANC seems corrupt, but they have over showcased that and have said very little about their own policies” she adds.
Khumalo wonders if her vote will really make a difference. “I mean there are already allegations of ballot papers flying around in Mpumalanga.”
Natasha Johnson (25) is also undecided. She says: “I’m going to a party tonight hosted by ‘Nope! Our dreams don’t fit on your ballots’.” Although she is not sure who to vote for, she is sure that “we need a strong opposition”.
For Johnson it makes no difference who you vote for really. She says: “The DA, ANC and PAC [Pan African Congress] aren’t the ones to make a difference, we are.”
The last time Johnson voted she was 19 and had no interests in politics. “I just voted because my parents said I should and I voted DA.” This time, however, Johnson “is interested and totally unsure”.
Lloyd Gedye (31) says: “I fail to believe that Jacob Zuma is the best leader the ANC can put forward, so I refuse to vote for them.” Gedye won’t vote for Cope either because “most of the people who formed Cope are the Mbeki-ites responsible for getting us into this mess in the first place so I refuse to vote for them too.”
The DA, Gedye says, seems to have changed their view a little under Zille “but of late they define themselves by their opposition to Zuma, which is pathetic”.
Previously Gedye voted for the Independent Democrats (ID) because they were a new party and felt they needed some help. “I also like what Patricia De Lille had to say about corruption and the arms deal.”
But despite this Gedye says De Lille has not delivered on per promises.
“The arms deal is still the cancer eating away at the ANC’s moral authority, but nothing is being done about it.”
That said, Gedye adds that he will definitely vote. ” It is the responsibility of all South Africans to vote. I will vote, I will just make my mind up on the day.”
Chireen Karjiker (37) agrees. Although she is “completely undecided”, she says she “will never be that stupid not to vote”.
Karjiker says it’s not the Zuma factor that’s made her undecided but she has “qualms with comrades who have become capitalists”. Christina Cele (54) has voted for the ANC since 1994 but for the first time she is also unsure.
“Since they removed former President Thabo Mbeki, I am not sure.”
Desme Schutz (38) says she has heard all these promises before and wonders if the politicians “actually care about us”. Schutz says she was undecided during the last elections as well and with good reason.
“As proven none of the promises came true. “The ordinary person on the street wants to see a difference, not corrupt officials taking our well-earned money and put in their pockets.”
Jason Norwood-Young (31) says although he hasn’t found a political party whose policies fit in with his own beliefs, the DA comes close. “But since the merger with the NNP a few years ago I swore never to vote for them again.”
Young says: “Perhaps I’ll vote for Cope, but more by a process of elimination rather than a true alignment of values.”
Lisa Skinner (28) believes that “if more people had stood up to the previous government quicker, and thus been supporters of some kind of opposition, perhaps apartheid wouldn’t have happened like it did”.
‘But which opposition?” she asks.
Skinner says she is still uncomfortable with the old connotations associated with voting for the DA. “You know, a white racist”, and adds that the “naivety found in Cope is scary”.
She says: “No one in there right mind could honestly believe that in their first year Cope will win the majority of votes and that Mvume Dandala will end up being President of South Africa. So why do they keep on saying that? Do they think we are as ignorant? I certainly don’t want to vote for someone who thinks I’m ignorant.”
But Skinner, like most of the other undecided voters, says she would never dream of not voting.
“Too many people have sacrificed too much for me to give up my vote. It’s just a pity I feel there’s no one worth voting for.”
But within all this confusion Skinner notes the positive aspect of being undecided: “I have followed election debates more closely than ever before and for the first time in my life political rhetoric is more than just that.”