Excited first time voters try to beat long queues

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Johannesburg - First time voter, Siyabonga Zwane, 18, a matric learner at Titelo High School woke up at the crack of dawn today to be first in the line to cast his vote at the Joubert Park polling station.

Speaking to BuaNews on Wednesday morning after casting his vote, the excited Siyabonga said: "Yes I just voted for quality education, skills and job opportunities for the youth. I want better education and health care."

Siyabonga, who was accompanied by three of his friends, also first time voters and his mother could not hide their joy. They were among the first voters to show up at voting polls in Johannesburg and were done with their citizenship duty within 15 minutes after the polls opened.

"I was here since 4am I couldn't sleep at all- I kept tossing and turning and yes I wanted to the first one to vote because I'm voting to make a difference in my country," Siyabonga said.

While keeping his vote a secret from his friend, Trevor Mabaso, 19, said he voted to keep crime, unemployment, poverty and corruption at bay. His concern was crime as well as improving education.

"When I see poverty in my neighbourhood I get so sad ... we demand change," said the excited voter, who comes from Hillbrow, which he describes as "an unfortunate community."

He said he was concerned about the increasing rate of crime, poverty, unemployment and high food prices.

"You can see it in the price of bread. Last year it was R6, now it is R8, how many people can afford that everyday," he asked.

His friend Bheki Zwane, 19, but no relation, said deciding which party deserved his mark was one of the most difficult decisions he had to make.

"But what I know is that I made my mark next to the party that represents myself and my younger siblings."

All these first time voters have one thing in common- hoping for a better future. These three are just the few of the thousands of first time voters who will take to the polls today.

Nearly one third of South Africa's 23 million registered voters are younger than 30-years-old and of those, about two million are first time voters. There is much speculation about the impact of these young voters.

The 2009 Election is the first in which voters who grew up out of the shadow of apartheid are registered in sufficient numbers - that their choices will influence the outcome of the election.

The questions have been, will they vote and if so will they follow their parent's voting patterns?

Answers to these questions are expected to start showing from midnight as counting of the ballots will commerce shortly after the polls close at 9pm.