I found myself at a crossroads in this election. For the first time since I started voting at the age of 34, I chose not to cast my vote for the African National Congress. This decision weighed heavily on me, as the organisation once represented so much hope for a brighter future for South Africa. The organisation that gave us Nelson Mandela, who was not only a great statesman who left behind an extraordinary legacy, but he also shifted my allegiance in 1995 from the New Zealand All Blacks, who boasted the remarkable Jonah Lomu, to the South African rugby team which at that time had only one black player, Chester Williams.

Former President Nelson Mandela shakes the hand of Springbok player, Chester Williams.

The path to joining the organisation has been a challenging one, especially following the tragic murder of the revered Steve Biko by the apartheid regime. Banning the Black People’s Convention (BPC) and the South African Students’ Organization (SASO), of which I was a member in my youth, significantly heightened the challenge. I was faced with deciding whether to join the Pan African Congress (PAC), which had broken away from the ANC due to its stance that: “the land belongs to all who live in it, both black and white “. Despite this, I firmly believed that the ANC was the organisation that would effectively fight for and get us the freedom we so desperately sought.

I also grappled with the reality that two of my childhood friends (we went to the same school and church and were in the same Christian youth group) made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy today. Cliffie Brown (aka Alf Sigale) and three of his comrades were killed in a firefight with the apartheid security forces after a planned rocket attack on the Mobil Oil Refinery in Wentworth, Durban. Leon Meyer (aka Joe) and his wife, Jacqueline Quinn, were assassinated in a raid in Maseru, Lesotho, by Eugene De Kock and his cohorts, who were also sent by the apartheid regime. These raiders left Leon and Jacqueline’s infant daughter alive but alone for hours. The question then for me: should I honour their memory and once again cast my vote for the ANC, the organisation to which they had dedicated their lives?

Steve Biko

This decision was tough, but I firmly believe it is essential for the future of our nation. The current version of the ANC does not align with the ideals I and so many others once held. It does not embody the principles for which Cliffie and Leon sacrificed their lives.

The ANC has repeatedly abused its majority over the last three government terms. It is crucial to address this recurring behaviour. The ANC must realise that its authority to govern the country comes from the people. Once they understand this, they will be compelled to prioritise serving the very people who have entrusted them with such power.

As I entered the voting booth and cast my ballot for a new party participating in the elections for the first time, I experienced mixed emotions. Instead of feeling guilty, I left the booth with a sense of sadness. It pained me to realise that the organisation I had previously placed my trust in had lost my support. For me to contemplate supporting them once more, they must, as an organisation, truly embody the principles that initially gained my trust.