We are tired of your politics!

Voting is a massive responsibility not to be taken lightly. Now I am sure most people would say, such a situation would never happen but in history it actually did…’one vote is what made Adolf Hitler the President of the Nazi party.’ So, we should never believe our votes don’t carry weight and that our votes are not important.

I personally do not vote because I believe that the biggest change that I would like to see is the idea of a ‘’rainbow nation’’ to become a reality first before I can cast my vote. I say this because right now the idea is so farfetched and I believe that it is because South Africans are still healing from the past and the effects of the Apartheid regime. I would love to one day be able to see a South Africa where race is not an issue and where people are clear from their preconceived ideas about a specific race. I would also like to see a corrupt free South Africa in which the resources are appropriately allocated and distributed to benefit every single South African citizen.

To see that I wasn’t alone or a ‘’bad’’ citizen, I wanted to know what my friends takes are in this matter. One of my good friends said, ‘’I don’t vote because no matter what party you vote for, it never makes a difference to the country. They all promise you things and never fall through with it. So therefore, I find it’s pointless to vote.’’ Azraa (my friend) went on to say, ‘’I would like to see a South Africa without power cuts, with cleaner streets, safer areas, better police force and security services, better health care; especially in the government hospitals and a country without racism.’’ I then asked her what kind of a party would she vote for, she answered, ‘’A party that does not make any race superior, that stays true to their word and provide for the country what they have promised.’’ Azraa is one of many who have stated that they want every race to be treated equally, now that says a lot!

I also have friends who are not South African citizens, so I wanted to know their thoughts on the matter of not being able to vote. Neto said to me, ‘’It makes sense not to be able to vote. If we let foreigners vote, they could completely alter the political structure of a country and then leave the next day. I wouldn’t want South African foreigners to be able to vote in my country.’’ That is a deep and honest answer, which in turn makes me proud of the people I surround myself with. It is important for my generation to talk about these issues whether you’re a citizen or not, we can’t always talk about boys and parties. Like Nelson Mandela once said, ‘’the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.’’

My friends and I want to see change in this country and we are basically tired of being made fools. Do you feel the same way? Being promised empty promises? The world sees us as a joke because of our Parliament. What are we teaching the upcoming generation? Sometimes I believe that they are doomed and they have been for a while now. Heck, our generation in some ways is screwed too! Unemployment keeps rising, global warming, melting of ice caps, burning of forests and so on. They’re screwed in more ways than one. But another friend of mine is more optimistic, saying, ‘’we need to be hopeful that the future of the country is in our hands. I mean imagine if Steve Biko, Mandela, Winnie Mandela thought that their generation was ‘doomed’ and did not do anything to change that? I think we have more challenges but there’s still hope,’’ I then asked what could be done to better the upcoming generation after us, ‘’our starting point, we first need to correct the mistakes that were done in the past by the older generation and only from then onwards can we start building the country or the future that we want. In doing that we know that the world is changing at a ridiculous rate and how to keep up with the Western world but at the same time be reminded that we need African solutions for African problems.’’

I believe that we cannot just rely on the government for the change we want, it starts with you, then the household, then your neighbours and then your community. Young voters account for half of the voting population, making them a powerful political force. Should we suggest that the voting age should be lowered in an effort to promote earlier voting among teenagers and young adults? After all we are the change. We are the movement!

Each individual in a community has a responsibility to contribute by voting for a political party that is in alignment of their beliefs. It is the least an individual could do to contribute to changing something they are not happy with on the grander scheme of things. It is quite a powerful thing when you think about.

A lot of my generation say they do not vote because nothing changes, but what they do not know is that it is not true. Even if a specific party does not win, the number of votes they get affects how many seats they get in Parliament, and that’s a big deal. Say, for example, the ANC gets 60% of votes. Let’s also say that day a feminist party gains the other 40%. That means even though the ANC remains the ruling party, they have 40 less seats in Parliament. Which means that’s less control they have over the government and forces them to address matters of concern raised by the feminist party. So even if your party of choice does not win, you’ve already made a considerable difference.

Now let’s say 3 people in the entire country vote because everyone else couldn’t be bothered. Let’s say those 3 people voted ANC, they then have 100% of the votes. This means they have 100% of the rule. I am not sure of the number, but if ANC makes a certain percentage of votes, by law they’ll have enough authority to even change the Constitution. That is an important thing to keep in mind.

Now let’s consider one last scenario; let’s say the feminist party ties with the ANC, though they could have won if they had just one more vote and let’s say that you were the only person who didn’t vote that day. Your vote would have been the one to tip the scale either in favour of the ANC, or the feminist party. Scary right? As it should be. Voting is a massive responsibility not to be taken lightly. Now I am sure most people would say, such a situation would never happen but in history it actually did…’one vote is what made Adolf Hitler the President of the Nazi party.’ So, we should never believe our votes don’t carry weight and that our votes are not important.

‘’Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.’’ –Keith Ellison

My name is Kerrie (22) – an eye opening and learning experience.

Today was an eye opening and learning experience, as I got to see how the other side lives and tried to also play my part instead of turning a blind eye. I went to Reiger Park not knowing what to expect, but we must remember that in life our expectations do not always turn out to be the reality.

Helping the penniless is often thought to be determined by the moral character of the potential help giver. ‘‘It’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.’’ Of course, I cannot take all the credit, with the help of some kind-hearted volunteers, we managed to pull strings in a very short period of time to help those in need.

Meals Prepared by the volunteers

Our pursuit to secure a sponsor from our local businesses to get food and packaging was a bump on the road moment. From each person having a different mindset on what product/quality they would like to buy for the project, with a limited budget was a hair pulling struggle but in the end – by God’s grace- we managed to get on the same page and focus on the real matter at hand, which was to feed the needy children.

Many kids grow up in poverty and the effects are saddening as it can last for the rest of their lives. The main effects of growing up in poverty may include poor health, high risk of teen pregnancy and lack of education which results in them making bad life decisions such as joining gangs and selling drugs.

One of many people in my community decided to act and join the cause to alleviate poverty in the youth. Mizanurrhman, a local grocery shop owner, was the hero of the day. He was more than willing to sacrifice profit over charity and was one of the reasons the feeding scheme in Reiger Park was a success, saying ‘‘I am so happy to join IVOTESA, thank God we’ve done a wonderful job. We continue and try to make a difference in the community. I will always try my best to support people in hunger especially children.’’ Mizanurrhman supplied us with bread when all odds seemed against us, he supplied us with an improbable discount and more food items that was not budgeted for.

Now this is what communities need more of. Mr Vincent, a local in Reiger Park, is another man we must shine our light on as he donated his container for us to be able to feed the children in even though he did not have much. No man is an island! More organisations for feeding the less well off are being formed in Reiger Park, so I ask you my Born Frees; what are you doing to alleviate poverty in your communities? What do you think the purpose of life is?

Shane Abrahams from IVOTESA is playing his part by providing skills and creating jobs. Shane gave the community of Reiger Park hope by showing people how to make soaps and forming businesses, which is a step in the right direction.

Shane Abrahams teaching the community to make soaps

The cycle of poverty begins when a child is born into a poor family, these families often have limited or no resources at all to create opportunities to advance themselves, leaving them stuck in the poverty trap. We need to count our blessings every day and be grateful for the littlest of things we have in life.

Today was an eye opening and learning experience, as I got to see how the other side lives and tried to also play my part instead of turning a blind eye. I went to Reiger Park not knowing what to expect, but we must remember that in life our expectations do not always turn out to be the reality. We do not know whether the food we gave out today could have been someone’s last meal. When we do it in love, when we give and do not receive, it is okay because someone is blessed regardless., this is what I learnt from IVOTESA. I look forward to more projects like these and bigger, remember one man can’t change the world.

Working as a team

‘’One of the worst enemies that sets the platform for developing a poverty mindset is your background. Where you come from, the mindset of the people you deal with, what you know, and your experiences can set the tone that can cause you to believe that you are born to be poor. You can only get out of that dungeon of a mindset by revolutionizing the way you think.’’-Oscar Bimpong