20 April 2009

Election Fever

This Wednesday marks the third election of post-apartheid, democratic South Africa. There has been quite a bit of buzz!

I will mention upfront that I am certainly no expert on politics in South Africa. I just wanted to talk a little bit about the way politics work in South Africa, from what I've heard and understand.

And, honestly, since I'm still bouncing back from election fatigue and campaigning in the US, I've mostly avoided any election news or debates. We had almost two years of that in America, so I'm finished for awhile!

Anyway ... : )

Since 1994, the ANC (African National Congress) has been leading the country. It's the party Nelson Mandela was part of that elected him the first black president of South Africa. There is quite a bit of history with the ANC, which I won't go into, but for more info: http://www.anc.org.za/.

There are multiple visible political parties in South Africa that represent each racial or geographic demographic and some that are for unity, etc. (Unlike the major two-party system I'm used to in the US.) Due to the racial skewing during apartheid, when the country became democratic, the government made sure each racial group had representation.

Also, in South Africa, citizens vote for the party and then the party elects the president. That was also something quite new to me.

There are posters everywhere and so when I was walking to town I took pictures of the ones I saw (since some parties are more geographical in nature, not all parties are represented with signage in Mafikeng).

And the ID sign, I just love their hutspah!

On some signs, since they appeal to racial and geographic areas, they'll write in English and the mother tongue. The dominant language in Mafikeng is Setswana and you can see some Setswana on the SAPP and STEM signs. Pretty interesting.

The elections take place on Wednesday and it's a public holiday, so people have the whole day to go and vote - isn't that nice?! So I'll have that day off too. I'll probably just handwash some laundry : )

South African citizens internationally had an opportunity to vote last week and I watched some coverage about that. The majority of South Africans living abroad are located in England. They also showed polls in DC, New York and LA. But I think they said only about 1,000 South Africans had voted in the US. They said about 7,000 votes were placed by South Africans living abroad.

From what I've heard, results should be announced on Thursday or Friday. There has been a lot surrounding this election, so it will be interesting to see in which direction the country will go.

That's all from my news desk. Good night and good luck : )


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