So the countdown towards local elections has begun and the first weekend of voter registration has been a resounding success according to various media reports. Over a million people registered to vote over the weekend but whether these were first time registrations or simply changes of address remains unclear. What is abundantly clear is that before the weekend there were over nine million South Africans eligible to vote who had not yet bothered to register. Twenty five thousand identity books still remain unclaimed at Home Affairs.
The majority of unregistered voters are between the ages of 18 and 35.
This is alarming to those who are hoping for a democratic change in the current political status quo. It seems to indicate that young people in South Africa place little value on the democratic process that their parents sacrificed so much to gain access to.
What appears to be more popular is mass action as has been seen in areas around us recently which has led to increasing economic pessimism at a time when the opposite is required.
Now, more than ever, we need strong and inspired leadership. I think there are people capable of leading South Africa towards a brighter future in our current political dispensation, but whether they are engaging at a level that will enlighten sufficient numbers of potential voters to make a difference remains to be seen.
Meanwhile the activism continues, the latest incident over the weekend being particularly interesting.
According to media reports, police and the Ethekwini Municipality’s Land Invasion Unit scrambled to stop the building of shacks on city land near the Riverhorse Valley Industrial Park on Sunday.
The unit is understood to have used rubber bullets to disperse a group of nearly 500 people who had begun clearing bush on a hillside adjacent to the N2 freeway between Queen Nandi Drive and the M25 KwaMashu Highway.
The land flanks existing shack settlements that spill over from KwaMashu’s A and B Sections.
A land grabber, who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, explained that living in A Section hostels which had become a hotbed of crime, had forced people to move.
He said that many had feared for their lives, and that this had driven them to try to find land elsewhere.
A large tract of land which runs alongside the freeway had already been cleared by the would-be settlers, and in the distance plumes of smoke rose from indigenous bush where people had cleared scrub and brush.
A police source, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said that one of the people erecting illegal dwellings had injured himself while fleeing from police.
“He claims to have been shot by the Land Invasion Unit but that seems unlikely because it looks like a scratch wound on his neck from running into a piece of wire.
“When that happened they called the police and now they are trying to settle everything down,” the source said.
Ethekwini Municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said that land invasion had been successfully halted.
“The city warns against land invasion on both government and privately-owned land. This is a serious offence and perpetrators will be dealt with by law enforcement personnel,” she said.
I have a feeling that we are in for more of this in the lead up to the local elections…so brace yourself for the ride…the next few months are going to be very interesting for all of us.