Platinum belt 'votes for change' after strike and Marikana

Marikana community members line up to cast their votes. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Marikana community members line up to cast their votes. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The mineworker strikes in Rustenburg, which have plagued the platinum belt in the past two years, are playing a pivotal role in how residents of the area are casting their ballots in this election.

Many voters in Wonderkop, Marikana and Segwaelane told the Mail & Guardian that the Marikana massacre on August 16 2012 had influenced their choice of party.

Amid the peaceful atmosphere, voters said they wanted to “vote for change” but were reluctant to divulge the political parties of their choice.

Voters left home in the early hours of the morning, walking with the orange sun rising behind them to join the long queues that had formed by the time polls were due to open.

Men in blue overalls and women with babies could be seen waiting patiently in the queue at the Maruatona voting station in Wonderkop, which opened 45 minutes late. The presiding officer at Maruatona Primary School said a faulty ID scanner had caused the delay. It was fixed after being reported to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

People turned out in large numbers to cast their ballots at Rakgatla High School in Wonderkop. Voters waited patiently for the station to open despite a delay, which remained unexplained.

Many voters said they would vote differently compared with the previous elections.

Poor service delivery record
Margrette Kgomo has been voting since 1994. She complained about the government’s poor service delivery record, but was still eager to cast her ballot.
“We don’t have water and toilets. The roads aren’t good either,” she said. While it seemed she would still vote ANC, she sympathised with the striking mineworkers in her community, who have gone for three months without earning salaries. She said she understood some of them may vote differently in these elections.

One mineworker, Christopher Mvikela (52), said he would vote differently. “I am eager to vote because I want my vote to change the way things are; things like the strike. I am definitely not going to vote for the same party because of what happened in 16 August 2012,” he said. He woke up at 3am to vote. “I am disappointed that the voting station has not yet opened and no one from the IEC has come to explain what is going on.”

Osia Letesa (29) said: “I am feeling okay and I am going to vote for change. We need good roads and houses here. You can go inside the village and see for yourselves that we are still staying in shacks.”

“I vote because my vote is my voice. You can’t say anything if you can’t vote,” said Zamile Gaza (31).

Petrus Bavuma said: “I think the people of this area have learnt a lesson about the killings of the miners two years ago and I think they are going to vote for change.”

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