/ 7 May 2014

Elections 2014: Sea of change in Nelson Mandela Bay

DA leader Helen Zille arrived in Walmer to greet voters.
DA leader Helen Zille arrived in Walmer to greet voters.

Hendrick Plaatjes (67) said he voted for the Democratic Alliance (DA) because his friend who is a petrol attendant was asked by an ANC councillor to put R100 petrol in but to show R300 on the slip.

“They are corrupt!” he said, pointing into the air outside the Tinkerbell crèche voting station in Floral Park in the Northern Areas outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

“You can see it in Nkandla … the IEC chairperson … I’m not just voting for me, I’m voting for my grandchildren.”

He says his goodbyes and walks off past the queue standing under the overcast sky that has rained on an off throughout the morning. Dogs and cars criss-cross the road and dodge tables of chips and fruit set up by women hoping to make a sale to hungry voters.

Minutes before, another resident Toberene Thysse (63) said she had always voted for the DA and before that she had voted for the New National Party because “ons het reg gelewe [we lived right] and “[former president FW] De Klerk opened doors”.

She would carry on voting for the DA because “dit is rof in our areas [it is rough in our areas]”. Without lights, “dis donker [it’s dark]” and she hoped that having the DA in power might change that.

Securing the coloured vote, as it is widely referred to, contributed to the DA winning 10% of the votes in the province in the 2009 elections.

Down Rensburg Road, in Kleinskool, three members of the Bad Boys gang say they haven’t voted yet but when they do they will vote for the DA.

Because of the ANC, one of them said, “Lots of things are not right, there are no houses … you see here the shacks.”

A taxi cruised down the road behind us and hit a puppy, which squealed loudly.

“You see here, you see what they’re like, imagine if that was a child.” He did not say how he knew the taxi driver was an ANC voter or member.

Back in the leafy Port Elizabeth suburb of Walmer, DA leader Helen Zille got out of her car to greet voters but was stopped in her tracks.

“Go outside, outside!” yelled Walmer ward three ANC committee member Fikiswa Madolwana.

She was angry because a DA official had shouted: “Viva, DA, viva!” Madolwana said she did not mind “if Zille comes here but not with her ‘viva, viva!’ … she mustn’t come here with her rock ‘n roll”.

A five-minute drive away, a different face of Walmer – the township – was also voting.

“It’s like two different faces on the same person,” said Walmer township resident Nozibele Mcunukelwa. “Walmer suburb and Walmer township are so close, but the one is rich and the other one is poor.”

She said the white people are “privileged … they always have been”.

“When a drain broke in the township it was fixed in three to five days, but if a drain breaks in the suburb, it’s fixed the same day.”

Later on in the day, with rain and rainbows over Despatch, a town about 40 minutes away from PE described by one of the city’s residents as “1994 never happened there”, an ANC voter walked out of the town hall after voting saying: “It’s nice here, well, not actually nice … We [black people] are the minority.”

He said race relations were still “tense all these years on” in the town and described how a black friend had been beaten up for walking on the same side of the road as a “white tavern”.

“But what was good was his white friends tried to stop the attack.”

Earlier in the day, a resident wearing a T-shirt with an old South African flag on it came to cast his vote there.

The man, apparently called Peter Davey, received much attention on social media on Wednesday when the Herald posted a photo of him on its Facebook page, asking readers for their comments on his decision to wear the T-shirt.

Down the road in the suburb of Manor Heights, Jan Barnard told the Mail & Guardian that he would not be voting this year. He is notorious for flying an old South African flag above his house.

“The Bible says that black people must not rule white people, that’s how I interpreted it … this is happening because white people are being punished for turning their backs on God.”

He would not be voting because “none of these parties are doing their work in God’s will”.

“I am standing away from all of that as a Christian man.”

The flag usually flies above his house, but was not there on Wednesday “because it was very wind-beaten” and is there “to represent the last regime that ruled in God’s name” and to show he is fearless.

“People say ‘aren’t you scared?’

“I will vote for any party, black or white, as long as it does its work in God’s name,” he said.

The middle-aged man said he has lived in Despatch for most of his life and many of the residents agreed with his views. “I’m not a racist … I’m an ambassador for Jesus.”