The 2014 national elections are approaching and the closer we get to the date the more I expect to be bombarded with pre-1994 nostalgia.

All the reminders about how the ANC fought victoriously and triumphed against an oppressive government. All the sacrifices certain individuals made to ensure that I enjoy all the rights and privileges I have today.

As a young black woman, I am grateful to the ANC and all those who fought against the oppressive Apartheid government so that I could have this right along with many others.

This year’s Female Nation Survey revealed that 84% of women in South Africa are looking forward to voting in our next election. People vote either to affect change, or to maintain the status quo.

In South Africa we have a case of struggle loyalty where South Africans, primarily the older generation of black South Africans feel that voting for another party would be betrayal to their ‘liberators’.

I’d call this the psychology of voting – people are reminded of key liberation figures and moments of sadness and fear. This all meant to appeal to their emotions and racial/ethnic sensitivities.

So certain people hold on to victories of the past and fail to consider the present and the future. In other words, they may not be very political aware. But with the ‘born free’ generation being eligible to vote in the 2014 and 2019 elections, there could be a shift of political power in the country. We can only wait and see.

4% of the women who participated in the survey don’t believe in government at all and therefore said they wouldn’t vote. There was also a correlation between women with higher incomes and a greater desire to vote.
Could this suggest that women who earn less no longer have hope in the current government? Have they given up on the idea of change happening in our country or maybe more specifically, in their lives?

The ruling party talks about change, but in essence I think the ANC fears change. Because true change would mean being replaced as the governing party.

With that being said, the ANC have achieved a number of successes since it took over in 1994. According to Fin24, black South Africans now own over 60% of all homes in South Africa. There has also been a poverty reduction amongst the former disenfranchised group and there has been an income rise in black households.
Unfortunately its failures outweigh its successes.

As much the ruling party can boast to have helped house 60% of black South Africans, housing problem remains a huge problem. The quality of the houses is questionable with many homes being defective, and in many cases people have to endure long waiting periods before receiving RDP housing.

Crime is also very prevalent in South Africa – especially crimes and abuse committed against women and children.

In fact, 30% of women who answered the Female Nation Survey said they had been a victim of crime in the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly those who had been affected by crime were more likely to vote than those who had not been.

It is encouraging to see that a large number of women have not become complacent with the crime problem in the country and still believe that their power to vote can help curb the crime rates.

Crime might be at its lowest in 15 years but it’s still an enormous problem. The justice system is trying to reduce sexual violence in the country with its reintroduction of the sexual offences courts and hopefully this will result in an increase of the number of rape/abuse cases reported and the number of perpetrators prosecuted.

Distressingly the survey found that female victims of abuse are less likely to vote – 82 % of abused women do not feel that their votes have the power to induce change and protect them against sexual violence.

Our country has reached a point where it shouldn’t be about who wins the election, but rather why they should win the election. What South Africa needs is a revolutionary election, an election that will result in a change of the mindset of our leaders.

When leaders function on the knowledge that it is the people who have given them this power then they can ensure that their actions are for the people.

The veil of bourgeois dictatorship has to be unmasked and it must be engraved onto our leaders that they are servants of the people. Then only will the voters’ power actually mean something.

w24.co.za's 2013 Female Nation Survey results have been weighted to represent over 1 million urban South African women over the age of 18 and who are earning R6000 or more a month.

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