Election Day

election-day-posters

We survived election day, and so did most South Africans.  It was a remarkably quiet day with limited violence and only a few cases of reported voting irregularities.  It was fascinating to watch, as this is only the fourth election the majority of South Africans (non-whites) have been allowed to vote in.

Voting is serious business here, so most people had the day off, the taxis did not run, and the streets were deserted.  Many walked great distances to wait in lines for hours.  Voting is still a paper and pen event, and all votes are counted by hand, so the results are not official.  As of now, it appears that the ANC will maintain power with Jacob Zuma being elected.  The question really is whether they will win a 2/3 majority.  This is the main fear of the opposition parties (25 of them!) because if they do they will have the power to change the constitution.

The unofficial next President of South Africa Jacob Zuma

The unofficial next President of South Africa Jacob Zuma

Not everyone is happy with the choice of Zuma...

Not everyone is happy with the choice of Zuma...

My Zulu friends explained the voting process to me and there are several differences from the American process.  Having a hand counted paper ballot is the first, but most interesting to me is the process that has been developed to prevent people from voting more than once… When a person votes, their thumbnail is coated with black permanent ink.  This lasts at least five days and alerts voting officials that you have already cast your vote.  It leads to humiliation if a person does not vote because it is obvious to everyone around them.  Also adding to the greater than 80% voting rate is that whenever a person wants assistance from the government for anything, the agencies first check to see if they have voted.

If you are interested in politics,  SA history, or want to learn more about Zuma’s interesting rise to power,  check out several posts and linked articles Brian put on his blog.   I hope Americans appreciate the amazing freedom and democratic process we have in our country.

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