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Die Student
'I believe in people, not political parties'
Emily O'Ryan
Emily O'Ryan

Dear politicians

I vote because I believe in the people of South Africa. My voting has very little to do with party politics, political affiliation and political leaders.

My voting has everything to do with my belief and support of the ordinary person in South Africa – educators, business owners, farmers and citizens.

I hope that despite success, you – the political leaders – remember us.

Remember them

Remember the woman who was shipped around Europe as an object and dehumanised as a museum artefact. Remember the man who “slipped on a bar of soap” and died in detention.

Remember the corpse of the 12-year-old boy murdered in Soweto while protesting segregated education. Remember the Paradise Road singer who died four years after contracting HIV from being raped at knife point at a party.

Remember the heart-breaking moment of forgiveness when Californian parents reconciled with two of the four men who murdered their anti-apartheid activist daughter in Gugulethu in 1993.

Remember the South African who rejoiced on a Greek beach when there wasn’t a brown face in his presence. Remember this and be reminded of why you serve South African people.

Remember the 44 miners killed because of a wage dispute. Never forget the Cape Flats mother, who was failed by you, her leaders. Poverty and an unsupportive state failed her until she murdered a “tik” addicted monster who was once her son.

Remember my fellow Matie student, who should have been a Stellenbosch University graduate of 2018 with me last year. She deserved a well-lived life, but she was raped and beaten – her death caused by an act of kindness, just because she wanted to drop her friend off at home.

Remember the South African who rejoiced on a Greek beach when there wasn’t a brown face in his presence. Remember this and be reminded of why you serve South African people.

No trust in party politics

There was a time when my parents were told that their voice didn’t matter because they had brown skin. Their “x” was forbidden.

I am voting because it is my responsibility, but I do not believe in a particular party to get South Africa where it needs to be at this point – I have a sense of hopelessness in party politics.

None of the full mandates and actions of any political party resonate with the action and cohesion our country needs.

I am voting because it is my responsibility, but I do not believe in a particular party to get South Africa where it needs to be at this point – I have a sense of hopelessness in party politics.

We are aware of grievances and plans. Now let us have action where people get jobs, schools and hospitals are accessible and electricity is undoubtedly provided for everyone.

There seems to be no alternative to vote for to get this. Please change my mind.

Affiliated politicians, please know that I will continue to vote because I believe in those who go to work every day with purpose.

And yet we go on

Do you go to work every day with the same vision and integrity? Are you aware of the South Africans on the ground who persevere despite segregation policies, xenophobia, racism, motions of no confidence and state capture?

We continue as people – we must recognize our resilience and power.

READ MORE: 'Religious leaders also lack ethical and moral leadership'

Politicians, please understand I do not expect you to right all of South Africa’s wrongs. However, as a young person in this country, I do expect that our history informs and shapes your role as a South African politician – we must move forward.

Do not give in to apathy

I expect that every day, just as I am dedicated to fighting injustice as a Political Science Honours student, so are you. I believe in politics as people and power.

I believe in those in leadership who are not necessarily affiliated politically but are still determined to get the job done.

I am moved by the tour guides of the District Six Museum, the company that invites the office cleaner to attend their corporate gatherings as a guest, the advantaged who acknowledge their privilege and pay it forward.

I refuse to let hopelessness win. I vote because Refugee Reception Office in Cape Town is closed. I vote because there are better days before us. I vote because in South Africa, poverty has a colour – inequality is tangible.

I believe in the family who supports and pays the school fees of a child that is not biologically their own.

Despite not knowing who to vote for, I vote because I refuse to give in to apathy.

I refuse to let hopelessness win. I vote because Refugee Reception Office in Cape Town is closed. I vote because there are better days before us. I vote because in South Africa, poverty has a colour – inequality is tangible.

Dear politicians, you may be surprised to know that my voting has less to do with you, and everything to do with my belief in South Africa.

  • Emily O'Ryan (21) is busy with her honors in political science at Stellenbosch University. She comes from Crawford in Cape Town.
  • Read the Afrikaans version of this article here.
  • Opinions are columnist's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Netwerk24.
  • This article is an entry for Die Student's competition on the election. Read the other entries here.
Meer oor:  Die Student  |  Studente  |  Verkiesingdiestudent  |  Verkiesing2019  |  Mening
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