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Culture, Reality

Loyal for What?

by Xoliswa Ben-Mazwi / Illustration by Colwyn Thomas / 07.02.2013

“Awusemdala. Kunjani eskolweni? Ndicela itea wethu?” Sound familiar? Well its probably the conversation you have with all your aunts and uncles when you’re reunited once a year. However, we all have that relative whose conversation goes beyond exams and reminiscing on childhood memories you have no recollection of. On one faithful day, this particular uncle of mine was in town for a visit and got me thinking with one simple question, “Xoliswa, who are you voting for?”
Although I will be a first time voter my response seemed rather scripted, “I don’t see myself voting for the DA so I think I’ll just be loyal to the ANC.”
“Loyal for what?” His confusion was clear but my rebuttal wasn’t.

In retrospect, had my wit not pulled a ‘Mshoza’s melanin’ on me and completely disappeared, my reply would have been clean cut: Loyalty to what my history books have taught me. The ANC will never let us forget about the army of freedom fighters they bred who opposed the irrational and unjust Apartheid regime. Nor would they let us turn a blind eye on Chris Hani and Steve Biko, martyrs in the same class as the students of the Soweto Uprising whose blood stains the hands of an unjust system. How about police who were never held accountable for the deaths of our political prisoners?

However, almost two decades, three presidents and a rough estimation of eight first ladies after our “liberation” we as South Africans have memories of our own to nurture. Lest we forget about the Protection of State Information Bill an unconstitutional and irrational act. Or the plight of the average South African taxpayer who feels the need to question who will be footing the R248 million bill for what I assume is a golden castle where Mr President will keep MaKhumalo and the rest of his broody wives. Dare we draw a blank on the 44 Marikana martyrs who, too, fell victim to the system. My favourite memory has to be the fact that dear old Angie Motshekga was never been held accountable for the textbook debacle.

Oh, how the wheel turns. I trust that the irony here isn’t lost on you. While the ANC may use our country’s past as a CV to rally votes, we should be questioning their plans for the future.

We left apartheid in the 90s with VCRs and colour-blocking. Sure, colour-blocking still lives on in the hearts of skhothanes but the optimist in me trusts that the ANC will probe the matter. I digress. My point is this, our ruling party should ease up a little on the defense so it can start polishing its offense.

As I pen this in a DA run Western Cape, particularly a Cape Town boasting newly refurbished roads, vocal attempts to cut through red tape, a public commitment to root out corruption in local government and all that good stuff, I’ve come to a long overdue realisation: While my gratitude to the ANC and its Robert Sobukwe’s and Nelson Mandela’s is endless, my faux-loyalty to the ruling party may just have an expiration date. The mark the ANC left on this country’s past does not guarantee it a mark on my ballot every four years. My vote is something that even Madiba Magic can’t buy… Unless we’re talking “Randelas”. I kid, I kid.

*Illustration © Colwyn Thomas.

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