This is our right that we fought for: Zuma


7 May 2014

South African President Jacob Zuma cast his vote in the country’s fifth democratic elections at Ntolwane Primary School in KwaNxamalala, near his birthplace in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday morning.

The President last voted at the school – which is just a stone’s throw away from his home – in the local government elections in 2011 and during the 2009 general elections.

He was greeted by a large local and international media contingent, as well as jovial locals, who ululated upon seeing him. Various security personnel were also present.

South Africa’s number one citizen arrived just after 10am and joined the queue of voters, not wanting any special treatment. His first wife, MaKhumalo, stood behind him. They were accompanied by Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Pansy Tlakula.

People tried to shake the President’s hand, while others took pictures with their mobile phones.

Speaking to journalists after casting his vote, Zuma said he felt “good and very enthusiastic”, as the day marked the culmination of months of canvassing by all political parties.

“It feels good that I have just voted, and I hope that all voters will cast their votes freely, without any problems. This is our right that we fought for, among other rights we have … My wish is that throughout the country, voting must be peaceful.”

Asked who he had voted for, Zuma laughed and said: “It is a secret.”

Political party leaders cast their votes

Many political party heavyweights also voted in their home towns on Wednesday morning. Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille made her mark at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Rondebosch in Cape Town just after 9am, accompanied by her husband, Johann Maree.

Zille is the premier of the Western Cape, and the DA has been pushing to retain the province and increase its support in the national and provincial ballot.

Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele surprised voters when she arrived to make her mark at the Sea Point library voting station in Cape Town.

Julius Malema, the leader of the new kid on the block, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), arrived two hours after the voting station opened at Mponegele Primary School in his hometown Seshego, north-west of Polokwane, in Limpopo province, while Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota voted in his hometown of Bloemfontein in the Free State.

In KwaZulu-Natal, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi cast his vote in Ulundi, as did National Freedom Party (NFP) president Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi. Msibi made her mark at the Thengisangaye Primary School, a school she helped to build.

The late Nelson Mandela cast the first vote in South Africa’s first democratic election 20 years ago, on 27 April 1994, at Ohlange High School in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Mandela’s vote on that historic day marked the final nail in the apartheid coffin, signalling the dawn of a new democratic dispensation of majority rule in the country.