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South Africa: Township reports



South Africans living in the townships of Port Elizabeth are reporting for the BBC World Service on their lives and the issues that matter to them ahead of the country's most competitive election since the end of apartheid.

Asanda
Asanda was brought up living and breathing the ANC

Asanda Booi is a 24-year-old office worker from Motherwell - a middle class township built in the 1980s. Asanda's father brought her up to believe in the ANC but since his death she's begun to question her commitment to the party:

Before my dad died a few years ago, he made a point of telling us what the ANC has done for the people of South Africa and how we owe our freedom to them.

But now he's passed away I feel kind of lost.

Ever since the new leader took over, I don't feel like it's the same ANC. My father is no longer here to answer my concerns - so I have to try and figure out which party to go for on my own.

It's a battle between my head and my heart... my head is telling me I cannot go for a party that has Jacob Zuma as its leader, but my heart won't let me break away from it.

My concern with Zuma is his morals and the example he will set to young men in our community.

He has five wives and I know that's part of his culture but I don't think he's a good role-model.

And the things that he's said about HIV before - how can you say that if you have a shower you reduce the risk of contracting it? That's not a good thing for someone who wants to be in charge of our country to say to people. How can we put our trust in someone like that?

'Friendly Advice'

Lots of my friends are still trying to make up their minds about who to vote for.

Every month we all get together to chat about things that are going on in our lives. We call ourselves the "Confirmation Society" and this week there was only one item on our agenda - elections.

Asanda and her friends
Every month we all get together to chat about things that are going on in our lives. We call ourselves the "Confirmation Society"

"I think people are confused," says Puretsie Yako. "The government doesn't deliver, so some people see no point in voting at all. But I don't think that's right, people should take voting seriously if they want change."

My sister Vuyokazi doubts the ANC leadership. "I don't feel they're trustworthy," she says.

"Obviously no party is perfect, we understand Zuma is a person and whatnot but it's come to a point where we've lost our hope and trust in him. There have been so many charges... yes, we can forgive but we cannot forget."

"A president is supposed to be an ambassador," says Bongi. "When Nelson Mandela used to be our president we were proud to say we are from South Africa, but now with Zuma it is a different story. We cannot stay in a party because of its history; we have to look at the future."

My friends and I are all pretty confused, so I decided to go and see someone who - like my father - is passionate about the ANC and who knows more about the party's history.

'Retracing the steps'

Vuyokazi and I went to meet Cikizwa "Smally" Maqungo at her little two-bedroom house in New Brighton township.

"My parents were working for the ANC, I was born into the ANC in 1958, I have ANC blood running through my veins," Smally explains.

"I wanted to go and join the fight against apartheid, but I was arrested while trying to leave the country, I was trying to go into exile and fight as a soldier. I spent five years at Fort Jackson prison in Johannesburg. I would die for the ANC."

Jacob Zuma is the person who made me question my faith in the ANC so I asked Smally if she thinks the current leader of the ANC can uphold the values and morals of the past?

"I hope so but people can't be the same as Mandela, Mandela is too advanced and was too brilliant. They can't rule the country the same way as Mandela he did things his own way. Zuma can only do his best."

It was great to meet Smally - I think we got more than we bargained for. I was inspired by all the stories she told me.

She still believes in the party despite everything, which made me realise the ANC is not all about Zuma. Vuyokazi says talking to someone who has been so involved in the struggle really inspired her to stand up for what she thinks is right.

I really see Smally as a role-model and I think a country needs someone we can look up to - a person who inspires the whole nation.

So at least now I'll be voting knowing exactly what I am voting for and why. It was a real eye-opener.

I think we've had all the right preparation for the election, now it's just up to us to make the right choice.




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