By Anees Teladia
Election day in South Africa is always a passionate affair – and rightly so, considering our troubled past and our desperate need for progress as a country. There are many political parties contesting elections in our vibrant democracy and accordingly, political division is commonplace – never mind our economic, racial and social division. Despite this, however, we have been blessed with a country that is largely safe from political violence since the inception of South Africa’s new democracy. Imizamo Yethu, an informal settlement in Hout Bay, was the perfect example of our flourishing democracy in action.
The VOC News team was out and monitoring the streets of Cape Town yesterday, reporting on the events taking place at polling stations all over the city. Out of all 17 stations visited by the news team, one stood out as a symbol of peace, democracy and political tolerance which can serve to inspire democracies the world over – and that was the polling station at Imizamo Yethu.
Parties such as the Black First Land First, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Democratic Alliance, African Christian Democratic Party and the African National Congress (ANC), all had their own distinguished areas as a temporary “base” in the road of the station, just outside the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) boundary.
The ANC and EFF were the more dominant parties in the area and filled the road with passionate songs, dances and marches in a show of support for their respective parties.
The ANC grouping led a march from the top of the Imizamo Yethu settlement and were joined by marchers of all ages.
Their passion and vigour encouraged more people to join them as they made their way down to the polling station road.
Once in the station road, however, a potentially dangerous situation arose.
The local EFF branch had decided to rally its members in a similar fashion to the ANC. The two parties were on a collision course as the EFF made its way upward.
It was then, that something truly shocking occurred.
Despite the literal “collision” of political parties and the non-literal “clash” of political ideology, there was not one incident of aggression and violence. The two parties simply passed right through one another in an exemplary display of democratic spirit.
Imizamo Yethu is an area plagued by poor service delivery and socio-economic inequality and is often a source of study in social science academia. It is therefore inspiring and truly refreshing that an area of clear poverty and inequality displays more political tolerance and understanding than many other more affluent democracies globally.
The scenes at Imizamo Yethu saw many commenting on the spirit of patriotism and optimism, saying that what they witnessed reminded them of South Africa’s first truly democratic elections in 1994.
As a whole, the voting process was relatively calm throughout South Africa, with only a few apparent instances of misconduct by some parties.
Photo and video credits: Anees Teladia