#Election2014: Confession of an undecided and discouraged voter

With less than 24 hours left before millions of South Africans go to their voting stations to cast their vote, I’m still as undecided and a discouraged (yet) registered voter as ever.

To claim nothing has been achieved over the last 20 years of our democracy will be foolish, and whoever claims nothing has been achieved is lying. But a lot still needs to be done though. In my home village, Seoding, near Pampierstad, change is very slow, if any. This is coupled with the fact that the area and its surrounding villages have long been under the leadership of the Ba-Ga Mothibi Tribal Authority whose leader, Kgosi Mothibi, was buried this past weekend and was a die-hard UCDP supporter. I have seen changes in my village, including electricity, however. Although we previously had trouble with water, among others, that’s now sorted. While it has never really been a burning issue for my community, as far as I am concerned and given the few community meetings I have attended previously, we do not have RDP houses.

However, lack of health facilities and a community hall for pensioners to receive their government grants are some of the many burning issues. Currently, there are reports that Seoding and a neighbouring community are to share one Councillor, which, to me, is very ridiculous because previously each village had its own councillor. And that’s one of the things that cause a lot infighting between the communities. Like I said earlier, a lot has since changed since 1994.

It was in 2004, a year after I completed my matric, when I first cast my first vote. And for reasons many are familiar with, I voted for the current ruling party, the ANC – I do not see how not disclosing that now will benefit anyone anyway. Also in 2008/9, I also gave my vote to the ruling ANC. But now times have changes, and a lot of things have changed too. And so have my views and feelings about the ruling party. With just a few hours left before casting one’s vote, I am still not sure whether I will vote. Worse, I am not even sure whether it is worth voting.

There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, back in 2008 when we voted, the Ba-Ga Mothibi tribal communities wanted to be demarcated to Northern Cape from North West, and even threatened not to vote at the time. Several meetings were later held and somehow the community gave in to the request from government (obviously the ruling party). Following this a task team was set up, headed by the late Sicelo Shiceka to investigation why Ba-Ga Mothibi Tribal Authority communities wanted to be demarcated to Northern Cape from North West.

In April 2009, a report was tabled before Cabinet on the task team report and its findings and or recommendations. To date no-one knows what findings, and, unfortunately, the only publicly known fact is recorded in minutes of a Cabinet meeting on 15 April 2009 that: “A report on the consultation processes with the communities of …. Ga Ba Mothibi (North West) regarding their choice of provinces was discussed and noted. The meeting agreed that further consultations need to take place with the affected communities before government makes a final decision on the matter. Although Cabinet was willing to review the decisions on provincial boundaries, further consultation was found to be necessary to ensure that a measure of consensus is reached in the affected areas to prevent further divisions in the communities. The matter will be finalised by the next administration and the new Parliament at the end of the consultation process. The change in provincial boundaries will require changes to the constitution.”

I then took it upon myself to inquire about the demarcation issue without any success at all. At the time, I was sent form pillar to post by concerned traditional affairs department officials in the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affair, who requested a list of the number of villages under the Ba-Ga Mothibi Tribal Authority – the very same list that submitted to the task team whose report is completed but gathering dust at cabinet.

While several engagements with the communities and its demarcation committee were again held following the task team report, nothing has come of it nor has any report been shared with the said communities.  Importantly, the same minutes of a Cabinet meeting on 15 April 2009 said the demarcation of the Ba-Ga Mothibi communities  “will be finalised by the next administration and the new Parliament at the end of the consultation process” and that should cabinet agree to this demarcation – or even concur with its recommendations – that means a “change in provincial boundaries [which] will require changes to the constitution.”

This means that the “next administration [from 209-2009 under President Jacob Zuma]” whose term ends on midnight today, 6 May 2014, has failed our communities dismally and there is no excuse for that because cabinet is aware of our demands but chose to ignore them. The excuse that the demarcation would require a change to the constitution is laughable and a lie. This because the Ba-Ga Mothibi issue was raised almost the same time – if not prior to – around the Khutsong demarcation was which has long been politically resolved by the government (aka ANC). Following our demarcation request, both Northern Cape and North West province signed a deal which I now suspect was only meant to bride us into abandoning our demarcation request from North West to Northern Cape. Their deal resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which to date has remained secret and has not been shared with the affected communities or its demarcation committee.

The South African Demarcation Board made it clear to me at the time that should a request be made by the community – if none was ever made before – such a request will only be considered after 2016. Despite several engagements with government and until God knows when, this means we have to live with the fact that the ruling party does not want to heed to our reasonable demand yet managed to heed Khutsong’s.

Or may this is because we have not been violent and only after burning down schools, etc, will they then take us seriously? I am not trying to incite violence but if that is what they want, they should say so clearly. As noted by one of the community members previously: Ba Ga-Mothibi communities have always followed procedures and have “never” been involved in any violent protests but that “in future we won’t stop people from going this route [because] government will listen only when tyres and Councillor’s houses are burnt”.

For anyone who does not stay in any of our surrounding communities under Ba-Ga Mothibi Tribal Authority – and does not know what we have to go through – this matter might seem simple to you. But it is not. So, why should I really vote if government does not listen to us? It is this seemingly minor issue (to you only but a BIG one to me) that’s left me undecided and discouraged as registered voter.

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