Seeing the ruling party through the eyes of the voter
To truly understand the magnitude and power of the ANC, you need to take a step back and understand their history. Picture for a moment a movement started by young people, mobilised with the intention to overthrow a very powerful regime. Over the years, this movement would grow to the extent that they would have spies, international informants and even militant forces set up in various countries.
The people involved in the movement were so committed to it that they were willing to sacrifice their lives for it. Many did, and at no cheap cost, succeeded in abolishing the laws that kept the people captive whilst winning the hearts and minds of the majority at that time. The cause reached the attention of the international community, receiving help from other liberation movements in the process. This is the narrative that made the African National Congress.
With such a remarkable story, is it any wonder the ANC has a stronghold in South African politics? Naturally, to the majority of black South Africans, a vote for the ANC has always been seen as a commitment to a hard-earned democracy.
“Regardless of whatever mistakes may have been made in the management of the state, I still believe that the ANC is the only party that has our best interests at heart as black people. There hasn’t been a party that has dedicated itself to liberating black people like the ANC and that for me is more than enough reason to continue voting for them”, says Fhumulani Sibeko, a young accounting student at the University of Johannesburg.
It also explains why the ANC’s history has been a big part of their campaigning. But history is subject to time and as time evolves, the only moment that starts to matter is the one that people have to live with now and in the future. For many, the liberation struggle has evolved from a political to an economic one and it is in this transition that we’ve seen the ANC’s reputation shift from liberator of many, to enabler of the few .
“It’s unfortunate that we have been exposed to this much corruption these past years but I think it’s a matter of individuals and less about the party itself”, says Melusi Sibiya, a young waiter from Johannesburg.
In this years’ manifesto, Ramaphosa acknowledged that the ANC has made mistakes in some critical areas and that the economy hasn’t worked to serve all people. “Unemployment remains high, particularly among the youth and corruption continues to raise its ugly head, threatening the moral and ethical basis of our democracy”. These words by the President of the party himself serve as an admission of guilt. This is to say that the corruption he refers to was bred within the ANC, and that said corruption sabotages young people’s chance of moving forward.
The lives lost and the blood-shed in the struggle was to eventually ‘bear the fruits of freedom’, as Solomon Mahlangu described it minutes before his death at the hands of the apartheid government. To turn a blind eye to the fact that these fruits have benefitted a select few, would be to neglect everything that young people like Mahlangu fought and died for.
In that vein, it is called upon all young people to consider the most important thing: in what ways can the ANC shape the future of this country? Whether it’s for the good or the bad is for each of us to decide.
In concluding his speech at the manifesto, Ramaphosa recognised that the direction of the country, and the ANC, will be determined in the ballots. The power of the ‘X’ is, as it should have always been, seen as an independent choice with the voter now at a pivotal place. “The country’s future is now in the hands of those who believe in it the most. The voter.” Will your vote see the ANC across the finish line?