Eastern Cape voters explain why they voted the way they did

| Pharie Sefali
Photo by Johnnie Isaac.

Three weeks after the general election, results are still being digested. GroundUp went to the Eastern Cape, to the rural settlement of Tsolo near Mthatha, and asked how and why people voted the way they did.

Most people from Tsolo make a living through farming and the area is regarded as one of the poorest places in the Eastern Cape. To access water, people need big tanks. Some houses do not have electricity. The roads in Tsolo are mostly gravel. There are few businesses or projects generating income.

Nonceba Vani, who is 23, and works as a shop assistant in Tsolo, claims she voted for the DA. “Last year, I visited my sister in Khayelitsha,” she says, “and wow, it was amazing how developed the township is … it’s like a town on its own.”

“Many of my friends did not like the fact that I voted for DA, saying that I am a deceiver. But I asked them, who am I deceiving? Because the ANC is not doing anything for me, and in DA I see a positive future. I do not want to dream of staying in Cape Town because of its developments, but I want the same development to come to the Eastern Cape. And I believe the DA will do a good job,” she said.

Sinovuyo Philani, who is 20, said that she voted for the ANC because it’s the party her whole family voted for.

“I do not really see the reason to vote though, because these politicians, they just spend money and have empty promises. Look at where I am staying. We do not have electricity and there are no proper roads; it’s just a dusty path and yet they expect us to vote?”

“Some parts of the Eastern Cape are not that bad, depending where you are staying and whether or not you are working for the government,” said Nkosinathi Sofutha, who is a 32-year-old construction worker. Sofutha claims that he voted for the third time this year and he said that it felt like it was for the first time.

“This year, I did not vote for the obvious party. Instead I voted for the EFF, because I wanted to give them a chance. If you look at areas like King Williams Town, mainly Bisho, people there are well-off, because most of the Eastern Cape government offices are based there and most officials stay in that area. You go to the ANC house there and you look at the cars parked outside. Those people spend money and they neglect the poor in Eastern Cape.”

Sofutha said that education is very poor in his province and there are no job opportunities. He also said that if people wanted to make a success in their career, they have to go to other provinces.

“I believe EFF will make the ANC take people seriously,” he said.

Nqobile Ntamende, a university student who stays in Tsolo, said that she did not vote because she doesn’t see the point of voting. “I know people will regard me as a lost generation, but what is the point of voting if all parties are full of fraud. ANC, DA, EFF and others are all power hungry and they just want money”.

“In the next election, I might vote. But let’s be realistic. Look at the Eastern Cape, look at the poverty; people here are getting used to being poor and it’s a cycle, while the government officials get richer. Now tell me why should I vote to make the rich richer. We might have 20 years of freedom, but we are still slaves, only this time, our own people are our masters,” she said.

Some people say those who voted for the ANC did not vote because of the parties good work or leadership, instead they voted for history and for Nelson Mandela’s sake.

Nothemba Cacambile, who is 69, said that the ANC has changed, and the current president is not a good example of what a good leader should be like. “I voted for ANC because I remember the party during the struggle. But if the leadership continues to lead this way in the next election, ANC might lose many votes”.

On the national ballot in Tsolo Village, the ANC garnered 667 votes (69%), the UDM 120 (12.5%), the EFF 56 (5.8%) and the DA 52 (5.4%).

Interestingly, on the provincial ballot in Tsolo, the ANC received less votes - 602 (65.4%), as did the EFF 41 (4.5%) and the DA 36 (3.9%), while the UDM at 185 (20%) did relatively well.

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