Vote for whomever – Ex-president Thabo Mbeki advises as he votes

Former head of state Thabo Mbeki says South Africans must form a national dialogue to discuss ways to fix the country after the conclusion of this year’s national and provincial elections.

Mbeki also said the ANC has an important role to play in that national dialogue because the party should have a say in determining the future of the country.

The former ANC president was speaking on Wednesday after casting his vote at the Killarney Country Club in Houghton Estate, Johannesburg.

Mbeki was accompanied by ANC Gauteng provincial secretary TK Nciza, among others.

Vote for change

“Beyond today, I have said publicly that our country needs to get together in a national dialogue. There are too many challenges in our country, and we need to get together.

“We should all vote and vote for whomever. The nation must come together afterwards and ask ourselves: ‘What do we do with this nation of ours?’ it is very important. It is also very important for people to participate in these democratic processes.

“The ANC must do what it says about itself. It says it must renew itself. Therefore, the ANC must renew itself. It is important. [The ANC] has a very important role to play in the future of the country. We must ask ourselves what we do after the elections. This is important for us as South Africans.

Dialogue is needed in deciding country’s future

“It is important for the ANC as an important political player to be part of the discussion on what do we do after elections. We need to play our own role as citizens. And the starting point is voting today,” said Mbeki.

The presiding officer of the Killarney Country Club voting station, Mxolisi Nkcaza, said the station has 4,433 registered voters.

Nkcaza said that by 1pm, more than 2,135 voters had cast their votes. He, however, said he did not have the exact number of voters who cast their votes.

There was a long queue that started from the inside of the voting station and extended to the outside of the voting booth.

Several voters said they were happy that they cast their votes.

Many voting options

Author and podcaster Dr Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh said it is good that voters have so many voting options on the ballot.

“It [voting experience] was very smooth, it always feels wonderful and almost sacred to vote on voting day. [I had] a lovely experience, I think it is a good thing. We have wide choices to pick from, and we must now exercise those choices. One thing we cannot complain about in South Africa is not having choices,” said Mpofu-Walsh.

Yaseen Valli, 51, expressed concern about the large number of political parties contesting the elections.

Valli said it was a “circus” that there were too many political parties represented on the national, provincial, and regional ballots.

“It is a circus that there are so many parties on the ballot. We cannot have 56 parties to choose from. Nobody knows all those parties. Nobody knows them, their policies and leaders. How do you study all 56 parties,” said Valli.

Too many parties on ballot paper, most of whom have no impact

Hamidah Ajam, 46, said she did not stand for a long time in the queue.

She said she does not like the fact that there are many political parties on the ballot.

“My voting process was seamless. I just walked in and the whole process took less than five minutes. Having too many parties on the ballot dilutes the pool of parties. Not all these parties are going to do anything constructive. Most of these parties are small and not everyone knows the independent candidates. People just formed parties just so they can go to parliament and get a salary. They do not care about changing people’s lives,” said Ajam.

55-year-old Cebisile Ntshangase said she hopes her vote “will bring change”.

Parties out in full force

Outside the Killarney Country Club, ANC, DA and EFF members were stationed by their gazebos. Dressed in their party regalia, EFF members were playing struggle songs from speakers from their gazebo. They were also singing and chanting, while carrying placards.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, former and ex-ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe cast his vote. He cast his vote at the same Killarney Country Club.

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