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The Poll Picture

Published 8 years ago
By Forbes Woman Africa

The Mandela Moment

It was Winnie Mandela’s first public appearance after the death of her former husband Nelson Mandela in December. Arriving at Orlando High School, she was welcomed by cheering crowds, African National Congress officials and photographers as she made her way through the gates ahead of the line and into the voting station. Mandela, seen here with South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu, left as quickly as she came, rushing off to Bekkersdal, where incidents of violence had been reported on the eve of the elections.

‘My Vote Is My Vision’

Twenty-year-old Bridgette Mashile cast her vote at Jules High School.

“I just couldn’t wait to mark ‘X’ on the ballot paper because I already knew which political party I was voting for when the day finally came. Voting for the very first time has really had an impact on my life. The ink on my finger is good proof that I am now old enough to make my own decisions, especially how I would like my country to be run.”

For Madiba’s Legacy

The fact that she is blind did not stop 52-year-old Elizabeth Malebo of Alexandra township from participating. Malebo is grateful for the social grant she receives every month.

“Before 1994, black people were deprived of so many opportunities but the people who suffered the most were those living with disability like me.  I will continue to vote in honor of Madiba’s legacy.”

Grateful For Democracy

Patricia Abrahams, 53, has never missed a chance to vote in the past 20 years and is grateful for the opportunities of democracy.

“It is always the thought of the sacrifices of our late president, Nelson Mandela, that encourages me to vote. Apartheid had deprived us of the opportunities we now enjoy. I live in a previously so-called ‘white neighborhood’, an opportunity my parents’ generation never experienced. As an arthritis patient, I have the right to better medical treatment at any hospital without being discriminated.”

The Mandela Moment

It was Winnie Mandela’s first public appearance after the death of her former husband Nelson Mandela in December. Arriving at Orlando High School, she was welcomed by cheering crowds, African National Congress officials and photographers as she made her way through the gates ahead of the line and into the voting station. Mandela, seen here with South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu, left as quickly as she came, rushing off to Bekkersdal, where incidents of violence had been reported on the eve of the elections.

‘My Vote Is My Vision’

Twenty-year-old Bridgette Mashile cast her vote at Jules High School.

“I just couldn’t wait to mark ‘X’ on the ballot paper because I already knew which political party I was voting for when the day finally came. Voting for the very first time has really had an impact on my life. The ink on my finger is good proof that I am now old enough to make my own decisions, especially how I would like my country

to be run.”

For Madiba’s Legacy

The fact that she is blind did not stop 52-year-old Elizabeth Malebo of Alexandra township from participating. Malebo is grateful for the social grant she receives every month.

“Before 1994, black people were deprived of so many opportunities but the people who suffered the most were those living with disability like me.

I will continue to vote in honor of Madiba’s legacy.”

The Art Of War 2.0

In the run-up to the recent South African elections, social media emerged a winner.

When Sun Tzu penned The Art of War, he probably had South Africa’s 20th democratic elections in mind. Never has the importance of military positioning been more important. Forget the rallies, the posters, the promises and speeches that either roused emotion deep in our bellies or left us reaching for the mute button. This war was not just about these traditional weapons of battle but for the first time saw political parties enter the social media ring in a fight for followers, likes, and retweets.

The dust has now settled. The bruised, the battered, and the victorious have claimed their places. South African political parties have certainly latched onto the hype of social media with the top four performers in the election, the African National Congress, Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters and Inkatha Freedom Party, all ramping up their online artillery in the build-up to the elections.

The social media whirlwind has been an unmatched phenomenon that has changed electioneering tactics forever. It’s hard to believe that in 2007, when Barack Obama first made his presidential intentions known, iPhones did not exist, Twitter was the new cool kid on the block and Facebook had a mere 50 million users. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that the ‘twittersphere’ has proven to be a reflection of national opinion and that Facebook has become the go-to space to talk party policies and how they are intended to shape our future.

South African political parties have woken up to the fact that in addition to posting the last weekend’s party photos, young people are gravitating to social media to voice their political opinions. The unwritten rules of the social media game open up a space for peer-to-peer engagement (arguably the most effective tool of influence), where the playing field is leveled in 140 characters, and where thought-leadership is not the preserve of a handful of insiders.

For the technophobes who haven’t embraced social media yet, consider this: Johannesburg has the highest number of Twitter users in Africa. South Africa has consistently recorded on average 100,000 new Twitter users every month in the past three years. In the 2008 elections, Obama claimed 70% of all the votes of people under the age of 25. According to the United Nations Population Fund, 88% of young people in South Africa have access to a landline, a mobile phone, or the Internet. You do the math. Social media in electioneering has very little to do with technology and everything to do with social behavior.

Like a first date, our political parties’ soirée with social media has been hesitant and somewhat cautious. As we build up to 2019, political parties that are the keenest to get to second and third base will be building their social media budgets, finding the right expertise, and ultimately claiming more virtual and ballot box votes.

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Related Topics: #Democracy, #Elections, #June 2014, #Nelson Mandela, #South Africa, #Voting.