Monday, January 12, 2009

How poverty effects voting in South Africa

While profiling a poor white women on how she plans to vote in the upcoming South African elections. The Independent On Line did a good job in showing one of the faces of poverty in the country.

Xolani Mbanjwa of the Independent On Line introduces us to Lisa Bouwer.

At the youthful age of 25, Liza Bouwer predicts a bleak future for her and her three children despite promises of a better life by political parties ahead of the elections.

Sitting on an old blue couch she borrowed from her mother, Bouwer candidly talks about the difficulties of raising children as an unemployed parent with her common-law husband, Francois.

She believes that if it weren't for affirmative action policies, her partner, Francois, who is a mechanic, would stand a good chance at getting a better job.

When times are tough, she sells newspapers on the streets.

She refers to herself as a "poor white" similar to tens of other white families who rent similar homes around her neighbourhood.

She is pessimistic and believes life will not get better while politicians fall short on their promises.

The house they rent in Hermanstad, Pretoria West, for R450 a month (she is R3 000 in arrears) is filled with her mother's borrowed and old furniture.

The battle to make ends meet is evident when entering her front door which has a broken lock.

"Locks cost R160 and I won't be changing it anytime soon," she says as she fastens a piece of wire tied to the keyhole on the gate at the door.

Although she hopes that she is proved wrong by the next government, Bouwer is in no doubt that her vote in the upcoming elections will not yield anything positive for her family. "It was better when (Nelson) Mandela was President, but under Thabo Mbeki life became more difficult. Food, transport, electricity, water and life in general became expensive. Searching for a job today is like looking for a cookie jar in an orphanage," she said.

Her main concern is the "suffocating poverty brought about by the high food prices".

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