May 8, 2019 / 12:23 PM / 10 months ago

From crime to corruption, South African voters speak out

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africans voted in parliamentary and provincial elections on Wednesday, with winding lines at thousands of polling stations where frustration was palpable at the pace of progress since apartheid ended a quarter of a century ago.

Iwan van Staden, 24, stands outside a polling station during the country's parliamentary and provincial elections in Pretoria, South Africa, May 8,2019. REUTERS/Tanisha Heiberg

In conversations with Reuters reporters around the country, many said they did not trust any of the main political parties to address issues that matter to them.

They complained about lack of jobs, high crime, corruption and poor public services - issues the governing African National Congress (ANC), in power since 1994, has promised to address.

Its biggest rivals are main opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

“There are so many challenges in our community, we have lots of gangsters in our community, there are some drug dealers selling drugs to our kids. So I hope the party I’m voting for is going to fight for us,” said Nolusindiso Mgwatyu, 42, a teacher who lives in Langa, Cape Town.

“I think this party I’m going to vote for this time is going to be the solution. I am voting for a different party this time.”

“I’m voting because it’s the right thing to do. Your vote is your say,” said Katlego Kekana, 31, a teacher in Johannesburg.

“I’m voting for the right people to do the right thing, to stop corruption and so we can get houses. I’m living in a one-room with two other people.”

“I came to vote for change. Ever since I’ve been on earth I’ve been struggling financially,” said Trevor Moloi, 18, a student who lives with his family in a 2-bedroom house in Johannesburg.

“I finish school this year. I’m voting so that there’s something there for me when I matriculate. I also hope that I can further my studies for free. I hope that the party I voted for will bring this change.”

Iwan van Staden, 24, an engineer speaking while standing in a queue in the capital Pretoria, said he was still unsure who to vote for.

“It’s difficult for me to vote for the DA because I don’t agree with everything they say, definitely not the ANC because of their track record,” he said. “I can’t say I’m part of the change if I don’t participate in the vote.”

“It feels great!,” first-time voter and law student Siyabonga Thela, 21, said in Pretoria.

“It’s not just going to be expressing my views on social media, now I’m actually going to be part of doing something to change my country for the better,” said Thela, who wore a red EFF T-shirt.

In Lawley, a township south of Johannesburg, Martha Mokeona, 44, an unemployed mother-of-four, has not believed the ANC will bring the changes she wants since 2013, when she started supporting the EFF.

“I want EFF to take a stand,” she said. “I want to own my own home... I have no money. No work. I’m the father and the mother - me, one.”

Also in Lawley, Laurens Williams, 56, has not had permanent employment for 40 years, and has survived instead off odd jobs, doing people’s gardening or felling trees when he can.

“I want work ... just work,” he said.

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“The party I voted for has brought about change in the community. They’ve given us houses and improved roads. They showed up for free education,” said Thami Molepo, 18, a student, who lives in Alexandra township in Johannesburg.

“They’ve implemented change, even if it’s a little. People in Alex (Alexandra) are unemployed. I’m worried about that as I’m finishing school this year. Small businesses aren’t doing well in the community,” he said.

“The ANC has brought about change since 1994 but we are still waiting for houses. I currently live in a shack,” said Tebogo Hlongwane, 54, a domestic worker in Alexandra township.

Reporting by Sumaya Hisham in Cape Town, Tanisha Heiberg in Pretoria, Emma Rumney, Lynette Ndabambi and Onke Ngcuka in Johannesburg; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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