[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 April, 2004, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
Ten years of democracy in South Africa: Your view
President Thabo Mbeki

This is the second page of your comments on ten years of South African democracy.


The following comments reflect the balance of the opinion we have received:

A promising future for all South Africans, and a huge step in the right direction for the entire continent.
Famara Demba, Kombo Nyofelleh, The Gambia

There was no doubt that the ANC would win this election, they have performed adequately over the last 10 years and deserve the support that they have. My only concern is the large majority, by which they have won, effectively negating any opposition. My one hope that we as a country continue in the path that we have thus far taken, a path that is becoming easier to travel, especially when we are being led by people like President Mbeki, Trevor Manuel and Ibrahim Rasool.
Paul, Cape Town, South Africa

Last year when I briefly visited the land of my birth, I could see progress
Ajit Somers, Leopold

As a former member of the ANC, now living in Australia, it gives me great pleasure to learn that the ANC has won an overwhelming victory. Last year when I briefly visited the land of my birth, I could see progress. It is not only in South Africa that people are getting murdered, here in Melbourne; we have lately come across horrible murders. Since coming to power the ANC has provided homes, electricity and clean water to the vast numbers of the population which racist, white governments from 1652 failed to do. Long live the spirit of Oliver Tambo and the ANC. I am elated that KwaZulu-Natal has been finally liberated. Viva ANC.
Ajit Somers, Leopold, Victoria, Australia

Congratulations ANC! Bravo Mbeki. Hope this time around you will be more committed than before to improve the quality of the lives of the thousands of South Africans that continue to live in poverty.
Josephus Mamie, Scotland/Sierra Leone

It is rather strange that Mugabe's friend Thabo Mbeki declares a standard for what the world sees as free and fair elections in South Africa and yet on the other hand failed to condemn the process in Zimbabwe which was clearly flawed.
James Raymond, Northants

So far developments in SA have proven the critics wrong, I so much wish that SA will become the change agent for Africa and the living proof that Africans are successfully manage African affairs.
Ron Schipper, Johannesburg

Reading some of the comments on this site just reinforce the fact that I'm ashamed to be white. We brutalized an entire nation, and then we whinge that things aren't quite as perfect for us! What hubris. Of course things are a bit harder for us now, how could they not be. Since our police used to shoot blacks dead if they dared enter the suburbs at night, I'm not very surprised that there was less crime in the apartheid years.

And I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of responses saying "I didn't vote for the Nats". Well, neither did I (I was too young), but I'm still culpable for what they did, and I still benefited from the evil they perpetrated. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to make restitution by handing over taxes to uplift the poor, by giving to charity, by doing social work. Not by snivelling off to a foreign land and whining about how hard done by I am.
Sean, Johannesburg

You have done Africa proud with the great conduct of your elections
Dr. Mobolaji E. Aluko, Nigeria

As a Nigerian conscious of our own disastrous national elections held last year to the day, and of our equally disastrous local government elections just last month, I am green with envy. Congratulations, South Africa! You have done Africa proud with the great conduct of your elections! All the political parties are winners.
Dr. Mobolaji E. Aluko, Nigeria

I am happy that the elections went so well/Peacefully. I just wish though that the world would also see the effect that affirmative action is having on white South Africans. Apartheid was wrong - no doubt, but the current situation is no better than a 'watered' down Apartheid.

We also now have an 'elite' black minority that is getting richer while the rest of the black majority remain fundamentally the same. Politicians in S.A seem to spend more time finding places onto which they can place their name (streets/botanical gardens/shopping squares)than they do making a positive difference to S.A - in fact the only time one hears from President Mbeki seems to be at election time. The quote "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" seems pretty apt unless the politicians start addressing the real issues (crime/employment and AIDS)in this beautiful country of ours.
Les, Johannesburg

Being a Zimbabwean living in South Africa and having been here since 2001, I feel proud of South Africa. The ANC has a realistic vision not only for SA but Africa and the world. Viva ANC and the spirit of Nelson Mandela. When I look at my country, "melancholy" is what describes how I feel.
Golden, South Africa

The ANC was, is and will always be the majority party in SA. Its platform of providing jobs and support for the African renaissance bodes well both for SA and Africa as a whole. I congratulate President Mbeki and the ANC.
Aminu Wouba, Kumba, Cameroon

Now is the true testing time for the ANC
May, Durban, SA

My husband and I decided to stay in a country that we love. The past 10 years have been a challenge in many ways i.e. affirmative action, unemployment rate, crime, etc. However, now is the true testing time for the ANC. Will they use their power to further a great democracy here in SA or abuse it and follow many of our neighbouring countries into corruption and decay. The choice is up to them. Lets hope they "Do what is right".
May, Durban, SA

Just more uncontrolled crime, litter strewn dirty streets. I no longer go to South Africa, they can do what they want with it now.
Keith, Sunderland, UK

To Keith, Sunderland: If you think that SA is all uncontrolled crime and litter-strewn streets I suggest you do go back I think you would be pleasantly shocked. Your words are how I remember an apartheid time Jo'burg, when I visited this Christmas Jo'burg, Durban and Cape Town were all at their most beautiful and much cleaner and friendlier than I have ever imagined it could be.
Chloe, Bristol, UK

Congratulations for maturity during elections. Let the government get back to work and continue to improve life in the beautiful SA.
Fipaza, Manchester, UK

Congratulations! Thabo Mbeki and the ANC. But listen, the political tussle may have been won, but the economic liberation of mostly Black South Africans has not been forthcoming. It's time to re-define priorities before the people run out of patience.
Anthony Ibeh, Hawthorne, California

Life has changed so much in that there is no security. Of the 21,000 murders last year in SA my brother was one of them. SA must attend to this problem then we will be in a position to return to our homeland.
Ray Absalom, Auckland, NZ

As expected whites who flee South Africa and complain of how bad things are seems to forget the suffering that blacks have undergo for centuries. There is so much hypocrisy amongst the whites who blame the blacks strive for success on crime in South Africa. Wake up and smell the roses white domination has ended in South Africa
Richard Smith, Toronto, Canada

To Richard Smith, Toronto: White domination has long been gone in South Africa; I lived through the changes there years ago. Now it is a free, democratic country with a huge black majority - there will never be a doubt that the ANC will be staying in power for many years to come. These elections just go to show that people are still learning, it is all new for them, but maybe some day, they will come to realise that South Africa may not actually be better off run by the ANC. It is voting by colour and existing powers rule.
Andy M, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Any party with a huge majority can pass any bills they see fit
Ross Brindle, Windsor
Maybe if the ANC had not prevented anyone outside of South Africa from voting the results would have been slightly different. Clearly they would have won but a strong opposition may be able to even out the political spectrum in South Africa. Any party with a huge majority can pass any bills they see fit.
Ross Brindle, Windsor, UK

How wonderful it was that so many of us bothered to vote last Wednesday. This clearly states that we South Africans really care about our new found democracy. However, as so many have already pointed out, a democracy cannot remain healthy for long if there is no viable opposition. The ANC have again an overwhelming majority for the third time. It is again quite obvious that voting was along racial lines and sadly, this will be the case for the foreseeable future.
Peter Grist, Grahamstown, SA

This amount of power in the hands of government in any country is not good, especially one who's democratic roots are still so shallow. I hope I am proved wrong but I believe we will go the way of all the other countries on this continent: total power, one party state, and a President that one cannot get out even with crow bars! Again, I hope I am proved wrong. Unfortunately there is no precedent.
David, Simonstown, South Africa

Yet another weak minded puppet government in Africa comes to power while the resources still belong to the west
Eko, UK
This is basically a farce. 10 years on and the country is still in the grip of neo-colonialism, the majority of land still owned by the small white minority. ANC is an elite party not for the masses who have been misled by propaganda. Yet another weak minded puppet government in Africa comes to power while the resources still belong to the west.
Eko, UK

Viva ANC Viva. Well done Independent Electoral Commission. Congratulations to my fellow South African's on achieving 10 years of democracy and being the peace loving miracle rainbow nation that we are. We are inspiration to the world and should hold our heads up high with pride in being an example for others to follow.
Mahmood Salojee, Johannesburg, South Africa

It's a shame we always end up with all these whingeing ex-pats (Hope their visas are in order!)Lesley, Bruce, Alice, Pat, TM, Sigi Guy, Amanda, Carolyn, Luc and Richard, - if you really care, get back there and help - then you will deserve your vote. With rights come responsibilities.
Nestor, England

Institutionalised racism is still alive
Richard, Joburg, RSA
Illuminating how so many positive comments about RSA come from those far removed from the country. From one who isn't, may I mention that institutionalised racism is still alive and well in the form of a vicious and pervasive affirmative action/black empowerment policy that has succeeded in creating a small number of obscenely rich blacks and is forcing a large number of taxpayers to emigrate. An interesting statistic has it that for every taxpayer in the UK and USA there are 2-3 voters; in RSA the ratio is no less than 1:12. So much for democracy RSA-style.
Richard, Joburg, RSA

I think the elections and the atmosphere was great. The results show that people are still voting on racial lines which means that the government has no effective opposition. Still maybe in time people won't feel the need to be "loyal" or scared of losing their vote. I hope that the government respects the constitution.
Peter, Johannesburg, South Africa

The first real test of South Africa's democracy will come during the next 5 years
Jonathan Gill
The first real test of South Africa's democracy will come during the next 5 years. Will the ANC be able to resist the temptation to alter the constitution to allow Pres. Mbeki to have a third term as President? Other African leaders have not been able to resist this temptation. South Africa's democracy has yet to be truly tested. What would happen if the DA, for instance, won 51% of the vote? A smooth transition would prove that democracy is really working.
Jonathan Gill,

Some people will question if democracy is working if one party gets 70% of the vote and I agree that South African opposition parties need to work on their identity. But the British have no right to lecture the South Africans on this point. It's better than our democratic system, where one party gets only 42% of the vote yet has a huge parliamentary majority, which I believe leads to voter apathy. Oh and our upper house (second chamber) is appointed by the Prime Ministers Office!
Ian, Marlow

I am a 25-year-old white Afrikaans male living in my beloved country South Africa. When it comes to affirmative action and being afraid of Zimbabwean style land-grabs I should be the first to run away. But I am not! I love this place. I am positive about the future! I have a great job in a big corporate. I recently bought my first property - in Joburg of all places. I have never experienced bad crime, only small petty stuff. I enjoy a better quality of life than most of my white brothers that have packed their bags. I have to agree with our government, if you don't live here, you should not vote.
Bernard Jansen, Johannesburg, SA

South Africa IS a true democracy like Botswana...the overwhelming dominance of the African National Congress DOES reflect the views of the majority. In Botswana's 8 free and fair democratic elections since the 1960s, we've seen the dominance of the Botswana Democratic Party- because the majority DO want it in power! But in Botswana's history there's always been a parliamentary opposition that's been vocal (BNF), an independent judiciary, free press, there's never been a single political prisoner, there's never ever been ONE political death, Botswana is rated by Transparency International as the least corrupt in Africa (less corrupt than some western states).

Furthermore, when the British governed us for 81 yrs until 1966, they left Botswana as the poorest nation in Africa with no infrastructure to speak of. But after 3 decades of democracy and Black rule, Botswana has moved from near 100% poverty levels to less than 40%. So those who believe a popular black government means dictatorship and underdevelopment ARE WRONG. Congrats to our dear neighbour!
Pako, Gaborone, Botswana

South African democratic system is an example, and a modal to follow
Faztudo Langisse, Maputo-Mozambique
South African democratic system is an example, and a modal to follow. Both previous South African elections were carried out in a peaceful mood and no violence. Africa should take chance on that. African leaders should know that hankering to power in order to perform corruption can only lead to war and other conflicts
Faztudo Langisse, Maputo-Mozambique

Why do Western governments and multinational corporations fear that South Africa is turning into a one-party state while at the same time they hail Botswana as the standard-bearer for African democracy? (Mr Mogae's party has been in power since independence in 1966!)
Andrew, Minneapolis, United States

The ANC have obviously secured a victory here, but they must continue to address the problem of wealth inequity further. The economy is stable but too many South Africans live below the poverty line.
Reuben Loffman, Whitstable, England

I must admit to having something of an obsessive interest in SA because of its diversity and history. It certainly is nice to see something of an African success story for a change! But there is no doubt that something must be done about the Aids epidemic and the terrible crime problem.

The thing is that the SA government is highly dependant on the white taxpayer (a hard fact to swallow for many but sadly true) and unless the crime problem is sorted soon the "white flight" will continue and the new black middle class will find itself with most of the financial burden and the ANC will find it harder and harder to get the cash to improve the lives of the poor.

I would like to see SA foreign policy trying to export this freedom to the rest of the continent starting in Zimbabwe. Good luck to SA for the future may the next decade be even better than the last!
Jon Stokes, Nottingham, UK

I am very glad to see that the South Africans are voting for the third time which shows that democracy is growing in Africa.
Mupeta Moses, Lusaka Zambia

I think South Africa as a whole is doing better and better everyday even though there are a few setbacks
Siphesihle Zwane, Durban, South Africa
I think South Africa as a whole is doing better and better everyday even though there are a few setbacks. I'm a black South African who thinks life has changed for the better in the past 10 years even though the ANC government is not delivering on all its promises. If I were old enough to vote I would undoubtedly have voted for the DA. I think it would do a better job than the ANC.
Siphesihle Zwane, Durban, South Africa

I remember the collapse of apartheid being one of the scariest events of my life - not knowing what to expect! The fear proved unfounded, with the two days of voting being the first two days I could remember without any incidents of faction fighting. I voted for the NP - they after all were the initialisers of the wheel of change. Life has greatly changed in SA in the last 10 years, mostly for the better, but the tremendous increase in the crime rate and the governments apparent inability to control this is leading to our people (like me) taking their families leaving the homes and people they love - all due to crime - in search of a more peaceful future for our children.
Lesley Phillips, Bristol, England

As a Zimbabwean I see the writing is on the wall for South Africa. The liberals in Europe have no idea what democracy in Africa is actually all about. We Zimbabweans used to laugh at Zambia, just as the South Africans now laugh at us! It is very sad.
Alex, London

I am South African who always had thought there was no crime in Europe or the UK, until I came here
Bheki, UK
In the social engineering of South Africa, there are negatives indeed, like crime. Crime and fear of it is a problem to many countries. Unreliable police stats and negative sensational media reporting contribute to the fear. I am South African who always had thought there was no crime in Europe or the UK, until I came here to see daily crime reports in the newspapers. It would be wrong to racial-ise the issue of crime in South Africa as a blacks vs whites issue.

The majority of crime victims in South Africa have mostly been the majority blacks (from apartheid crime to general crime). One or two incidents against a white citizen...the horns are blown beyond proportion, with TV cameras and international media coverage! Crime is a risk faced by anyone, anywhere. The risks are almost the same whether you are in NY, London or Johannesburg. I am studying and going back as soon as I finish. Lets go back home and stop the brain drain...our country needs us. We are causing unnecessary congestion for other countries.
Bheki, UK

South Africa is going the way of Mexico with one party rule. This leads ultimately to complacency and inertia.
Sharon Schafer, Pennsylvania, USA

I am a Greek South African, who has been living in Athens for two years. But, I am returning to South Africa next week, because my time away has made me realise how much I had left behind. This successful election, only strengthens my view that I am returning to the best country in the world, a proud South African.
Ioannis Condogiannis, Athens/Johannesburg

Whenever I feel cynical about modern democracy, I stop, think of South Africa and smile. There's always hope.
Alister, London, UK

Wow! What an amazing event the end of the apartheid was. I would have been only eleven years old at the time but I still remember vividly, pictures on TV of whites and blacks holding hands raised high. Ten years on, I applaud people like Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk who, through their perseverance, courage and willingness to look beyond past prejudices and injustices, were instrumental in bringing about change. Obviously, the road ahead won't be an easy one, but may these values continue to be held high as South Africans work together for a better South Africa. Our hopes and prayers are with you in this next phase.
Previn John, Perth, Western Australia

The dreams of 1994 lives. The foundation is solid, we are not going back. South Africa enters her second decade of freedom with confidence. We will succeed. The future looks bright and success is certain
Mandla Mabuza, Johannesburg,South Africa

South Africa has shown remarkable maturity in creating a responsible democracy
Mark, Vienna, Austria
Despite overwhelming racism against the black population for many years South Africa has shown remarkable maturity in creating a responsible democracy which is trying to work for the people and not the politicians or bureaucracy. I wish you all well in your fight to reduce poverty and increase healthcare.
Mark, Vienna, Austria

Everybody seems to be praising South African democracy. However, I've never heard of a truly mature democratic system where the ruling party gets over two-thirds of the popular vote whereas the largest opposition party barely gets 16 % ! South Africa will not be a full-fledged democracy until a credible political opposition emerges to represent a real alternative to the government of the day and hold that government accountable. If predictions of a ANC sweep are confirmed, I'm afraid South Africa will be one step closer to becoming a one-party state like so many other failed republics in the African continent.
Marcelo Bruno, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Having a vote IS empowerment. The whole basis of democracy is founded upon it. The ANC has had massive hurdles to clear from the outset of their government, including issues related to HIV, housing, unemployment and crime. Significant progress has been made in all these areas. Leadership is only truly leadership when real challenge exists. Well done SA.
Dirk, Johannesburg, South Africa

Many things have improved in the country since 1994. This is not all due to the government but often due to the influence of big business. The government is severely inept and the country is being held together by overseas investors and big business. Corruption, crime, massive unemployment, ignorance with regard to HIV/AIDS and huge chasms between rich and poor are massive issues that are just not being addressed. The ANC was the only option after the previous government but it is time for a change. With a two thirds majority the ANC can now change the constitution and turn the country into more of a dictatorship (see Zimbabwe!)
Dave Bryant, Cape Town, South Africa

Yesterday was a truly wonderful day. I went around to the varying polling stations around Cape Town and found an elated sense of celebration. All those doomsayers who compare SA to Zimbabwe will find if they ever come here: a free and critical press, parties free to campaign and a patriotic and loving people who are determined to make our democracy work.
Gary, Cape Town, South Africa

I cannot though, as much as I love South Africa go back in the state that it is in now
Bruce, London, England
I am living in London without the burglar bars and the worry of my fiancee driving at night thinking she is going to be hijacked, like she was at gunpoint while she lived in SA. Being a white male, if I was to return to SA with 8 years investment banking experience in London and a degree, I would battle to get a job even though I have lots to offer a company. I never supported apartheid and was very pleased when it was ended.

I cannot though, as much as I love South Africa (and I do go back at least once a year to see family, who have been burgled 3 times last year I might add), go back in the state that it is in now, with a president that does not believe that AIDS comes from HIV, crime as it is and no opportunities for employment. His silence on Zimbabwe and the fact that they will get a two thirds majority after this election which means they will be able to change the constitution, tells me that SA land owners also better be careful.
Bruce, London, England

Mbeki and ANC victory in the just ended elections is clearly a symbol of confidence of the people of South Africa on the ongoing reform done since the end of apartheid system in the country. South African people remember what ANC did since the struggle for liberation of their land from the yoke of segregation, brutal harassment and massive killings of the black community in their own land.
Epson Luhwago, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Having recently completed a study on hollow democracy in South Africa, I wonder if enough people realize how little check there is on the executive branch of the South African government? I wish only good for this country with the dream constitution... including a functioning and critical opposition.
TGK, UK

I am a 14-year old Canadian boy. I am constantly studying South Africa, overjoyed by how nice a country it is. If this is any testament to how good life in South Africa must now be, I plan to move there when I finish university.
Tom Cook, Ontario, Canada

African leaders should learn from their continental brother South Africa
Manuel Adamu, Baney, Equatorial Guinea
African leaders should learn from their continental brother South Africa. Let the country decide, it should not be impose on them. It is not a rigged election like what we have been experiencing in other parts of the continent. South Africans keep it up!!! Thank ya.
Manuel Adamu, Baney, Equatorial Guinea

I have never had the opportunity to express my democratic right to vote in South Africa as I was too young to vote in the first elections and have now been denied my vote twice as I have been abroad. I wish one day South Africa will be truly a democratic country where all its citizens will be able to vote and racially equality will be truly fair. I have never ever voted for a government in my country and the reason I had to leave my country was because I am now been penalized for being white and affirmative actions hinders my job prospect.
Ian Gardiner, London, UK

Although life can be very testing at times here, the great thing is there is so much opportunity to make a difference. And I am proud to be living in a non-aligned country with a human-rights laden constitution. Viva South Africa!
Bruce Gillespie, Jo'burg, South Africa

To all the complainants in the many emails from abroad. Don't sit whining about no vote in the coffee bars of foreign lands. You want to vote, come home and vote. In other words, put up or shut up.
Des Currie, Umdloti, South Africa

The people of South Africa should be an inspiration to all those people in the "established" democracies of the West who cannot be bothered to vote. Shame on us.
Kenneth Lockie, Baltimore, USA

I assume this election will be another huge victory for the ANC. I have to wonder, if one party wins huge majorities over and over again, is democracy really taking root? I wish SA all the luck in the world, but there should be effective and peaceful opposition parties somewhere in this equation.
Jeremy, Florida USA

I expressed my democratic right to vote for the first time today, and am overwhelmed with pride and joy for this wonderful country
John, Cape Town, South Africa
I expressed my democratic right to vote for the first time today, and am overwhelmed with pride and joy for this wonderful country. I eagerly anticipate the next decade of democracy, to be part of further exciting change. It's interesting to note how opinionated many of the ex-pats are, and while I'm sure many of them have their personal reasons for leaving, may they please keep their cynicism to themselves, so the rest of us can celebrate the excitement of a country as one. It is their loss. Thank you to others for their compliments and positive criticism.
John, Cape Town, South Africa

The large turnout has proven that apartheid in South Africa is dead and buried. It has shown that if given the chance people will take part in choosing their leaders and future.
Ibeabuchi Chinedu, Lagos, Nigeria

I am a white living in South Africa. I disagree with the negative (and somewhat bitter) comments by some ex-South Africans about life here. The country is not crumbling. We are not about to follow Zimbabwe's route. South Africa has a great future, for all its people. Come home and see for yourself what a wonderful country we are building for ourselves. Well done South Africans for another peaceful election.
Matthew West, Stellenbosch, South Africa

I am saddened that as many herald the great new South Africa, I was unable to vote today, my right as a citizen and South African, because I was not in the country. A tragedy that even though I attempted to register or make arrangements to vote at an embassy abroad I was told by an official in SA 'if you are not in the country, no vote'.
TM, Berlin, Germany

Huge changes like that of South Africa give me hope in humanity, and make me see a chance for other seemingly unsolvable conflicts such as Palestine and Israel. It should be a precedent to wave in front of them!
Brian, Gibraltar

Congratulations to the rainbow nation. Remember, every time you're voting you are celebrating the fall of apartheid...
Seble, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I voted this morning in a quiet Cape Town suburb with my Mom, Dad, brother and sister. I watched Presidents Mbeki and Mandela voting when I woke up, and shook with anger and euphoria when I remembered that, like my father, this was only the third time they had voted. I was too young to vote in 1994, and in 1999 I voted in London because I was on a working holiday there at the time. I cried most of the day because I missed home so much.

The past ten years have been incredible. Incredibly tumultuous and incredibly scary for some no doubt, but here we are ten years later, most of us still smiling. What a country we live in. Today I want to salute my fellow South Africans, and all the British and other foreign South Africa fans who have so lovingly embraced our country's miracle and offered their support and good wishes. We're going to prove all the naysayers so wrong.
Siraj, Cape Town, South Africa

South Africans should be proud of the relatively peaceful transition that has taken place over the last 10 years
James Miller, Harlow, UK
South Africans should be proud of the relatively peaceful transition that has taken place over the last 10 years, I hope that they will all use the right to vote. I would, however, question the lack of leadership from President Mbeki in relation to dealing with the problems of Zimbabwe. He is in a very powerful and influential position to bring some sense to Mugabe but has remained very quiet on the matter, a serious dereliction of his duty as the foremost African leader.
James Miller, Harlow, UK

South Africa is heading the right way. Everyone is now has the right to vote and free to express his/her own views in an election. However, the fight against crime and Aids pandemic remains the challenge for any leader who will win this election. All South African should unite to fight these two obstacles the same way the freedom fighters united to end apartheid.
Emmanuel Gonda, Canada/Sudan

Tributes paid to former president Madiba. Congratulations for leading a great country out of apartheid without war. Thanks for forgiving those who did not know what they were doing when incarcerating you.
Magugu W Mangwe, Swaziland

South Africa's transition from Apartheid to democracy has been miraculous. Nelson Mandela more than anyone else deserves credit for this. However, South Africa is becoming more and more of a one party state. I have a lingering fear that, given time, it will go the way of Zimbabwe.
SM, USA (ex SA and Zimbabwe)

I am a South African and have been in London now for 2 months. It saddens me greatly that I am not allowed to vote. So many South Africans are being denied their constitutional right to vote. I cannot understand how this new legislation was formulated under our constitution.
Sigi Prinsloo, London UK

There was no way I could miss my opportunity to vote because I think we (South Africans) are heading in the right direction
Sikonathi Mantshantsha, Johannesburg

I travelled 36km to vote this morning (14 April 2004) because I moved house after the deadline to register to vote. When I got there the queue was long and I stood for an hour and-a-half (I saw a friend of mine who agreed to stick me in front of her) before I could cast my vote. There was no way I could miss my opportunity to vote because I think we (South Africans) are heading in the right direction. I, like most other black people, feel more dignified that I can elect my own leaders to rule the country. It was my second vote and my wife's first.
Sikonathi Mantshantsha, Johannesburg, South Africa

South Africa has done the seemingly impossible in its stable transition from Apartheid to Democracy. Yes, it has its problems, including crime, HIV/Aids, but things are improving all the time, and the majority of South Africans are seeing this. Change takes time, and to see what has been done in a relatively short space of time is magnificent. Despite what cynics will say South Africa is a beacon of hope for the world and a symbol for the beauty of multiculturalism and multiracialism everywhere. Hats off to Mandela, Mbeki and all those who have walked this tight-rope so successfully.
Jason Robinson, Dublin, Ireland.

I am a proud South African but don't feel I have a say in my country's future. Why? I have tried for weeks on end to get hold of somebody at the South African High Commission in London to ask about the elections and where I could go and vote. The answer I got on the other end of the phone was "I don't know, the man that you must speak to is not here". This is what I got every time I rang. Very frustrating and not helpful at all.
Alice lee Abida, Luton, UK

Having a vote doesn't put food in your belly. This is something the people of SA have learnt the hard way. My husband and I are in NZ because he couldn't find a job as a secondary school science teacher in SA - When the SA government tells its people that it is committed to education it is lying. I loathed the old government and apartheid, but I think the ANC is a bad government. They fail the people who vote for them and yet those people continue to vote for them. SA wake up and smell the country crumbling around your ears. And don't believe everything you read - things may be better for some, but things haven't changed at all for most.
Cath, New Zealand

To Cath, New Zealand: Today I live in country where people are allowed to express their innermost feelings and fears without being ostracised. I live in a country where citizens have the democratic right to vote. I live in a country with one of the best constitutions in the world, in a country whose government beholds the freedom of the press as a bulwark of democracy. Having a vote didn't necessarily put food in the bellies of the impoverished citizens, but it gave some of them a roof over their heads, running water and - hope. Walking around freely without a pass might not seem that significant to you, Cath, but what I experience every day is certainly not visions of a country 'falling apart'. Wake up, come back and experience the smell of a South Africa in bloom.
Almari Wessels, Stellenbosch, South Africa

I am truly proud of the rainbow nation and what it has achieved in such a short space of time
Guy, London
If it were not for the high crime rate I never would have left SA seven years ago. However, I am truly proud of the rainbow nation and what it has achieved in such a short space of time. This is democracy at its finest and the longer it continues the more hope South Africans will have for the future. The emphasis for the next government must be wealth creation rather than re-distribution as this is will create the jobs South Africans so desperately need. Good luck and I do hope one day to return.
Guy, London

In a recent visit to South Africa I had the uncomfortable feeling that this lovely country is sitting in a time bomb that would only be deactivated if social plans are faced as an absolutely priority and tangible changes are achieved as soon as possible. So far the majority of the formerly oppressed population seems to be hopeful with "legislation changes" but the very slow changing "economic apartheid" sooner or later will provoke this huge majority to demand real changes and they may not be willing to wait for other ten years.
Federico, Venezuela

I had grave fears for South Africa but total optimism for Zimbabwe. How more wrong could I have been? To date, Mandela and his successors have been (except for AIDS) so very wise, forgiving and effective. The whole world wishes South Africa all the very best for the next ten years and beyond.
Dave Smith, Wellington New Zealand

We appreciate the democratic approach in South Africa but we ask Mbeki to stick to democracy as long as he goes on leading South Africa. For all South Africans: bear in mind the road to democracy as established by Mandela. For Mandela I wish him all the best. May African countries follow your example.
Ndahayo Protogene, Butare, Rwanda

The transition from apartheid to universal suffrage will be seen as one of the greatest achievements of a nation state in the 20th century
Ed H, Cheshire, UK
The transition from apartheid to universal suffrage in South Africa will in the due course of time be seen as one of the greatest achievements of a nation state in the 20th century. Crime and disorder are only a small price to pay for freedom. Just think of the lawlessness in the USA during its early years as a nation. South Africa was only born 10 years ago. The previous 300 years should be wiped from history. South Africa has all the potential to become the powerhouse, if not the superpower of the African continent in years to come.
Ed H, Cheshire, UK

These elections are supposed to be our third "democratic" election. It seems strange then that South African citizens living abroad are not allowed to vote. Even stranger, when prisoners are given the due privilege of voting yet South Africans living abroad are not.
Amanda, UK

I disagree with some of those expressing the opinion that to be a "true" South African one must live in South Africa. Many of us, living and working abroad, are acquiring skills and capital essential for the progression of SA in the long term. We can deal with the fact that things are not equal in South Africa at the moment - and don't begrudge the previously disadvantaged for the opportunities now present to them. Have the foresight to see that us "foreigners" will only benefit the country in the long term...
Leon Janeke, London, UK

I had the pleasure of working in South Africa from 1999 to 2002, my children were educated there during this period. I wish all the very best to the SA people they deserve a prosperous future. Here is still a clear divide between the rich and poor but there have been clear steps forward in housing and education. I feel it will be another 10 years before we see the benefits of the education system improvements benefiting the black population. But the government must make Aids their top priority, or another Botswana may materialise.
Andy Clarke, Lower Darwen UK

I am a South African currently working in the US. Not because I thought any other country is better than my own, but merely for the experience. I love South Africa and her people. We have so much to be proud of and we have come so far in the last ten years. From complete segregation between people groups to an integrated society where a person is valued for who they are and not for the colour of their skin. It's not a perfect country... it has it pitfalls like any nation. But it is a country filled with prospects and possibilities. There are those who live there and have only a negative outlook. To those people, "You are free to leave." I was 15 when apartheid ended. I remember most vividly the de-segregation of schools.
Clint Botha, San Diego, USA

My family was in London at the time of the first elections, on a diplomatic assignment. I couldn't wait for our term to finish so that I too could go home and live the miracle. It saddens me to see so many South Africans criticizing the government from overseas. I believe that it's an insult to all the dedication, and sacrifice which we all made to secure our freedom.
Chifundo, Johannesburg, SA

Since 1994 we have seen some of the best changes in South Africa
Luyolo Mhlauli, Port Elizabeth

Since 1994 we have seen some of the best changes in South Africa. Unlike in the apartheid era we are all entitled to equality in work, education etc. We have so many rights and freedom of speech. People like the father of our nation (Mr Nelson Mandela) and President Thabo Mbeki and colleagues have really contributed so much for the country.
Luyolo Mhlauli, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

People making comments here are living in cloud cuckoo land. Unfortunately, you only have to look at Liberia, Angola, Congo, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and an endless list of others, to see what is in store for South Africa.
Chris, Brazil

South Africa today is a far better place to live in then the 300 years of colonialism and apartheid that preceded the democratic dispensation that emerged in 1994. Without doubt Aids, crime, unemployment & poverty are major problems facing us today, but these are legacies of our past, which we are slowly but surely overcoming and eradicating.

Any objective person would know that faced with limited resources, by ensuring strict fiscal discipline and opening up our economy to a ruthless and unequal global economy, the ANC government is limited in how much it can achieve in such a short period. Ten years is a very short time in the life of a nation such as SA to make major advances in combating its socio-economic challenges.
Mahmood Salojee, Johannesburg, South Africa

Our country is full of smiling people. We all try daily to make it a safer place, and whether white or black have a strong sense of patriotism. I see only good stuff to come, and cant wait to bring up my kids in our incredible country.
Lisa, Durban, SA

We all owe it to ourselves and South Africa to help make South Africa work for all its people. The effects of the past cannot be removed in just ten years and it may take at least two generations to clear away all the attitudes and mindsets of the past. We, outside South Africa, can help the process towards a fair and prosperous democracy for all South Africans simply by buying South African goods when we find them in shops: it's a very simple gesture but it does give South Africa some of the financial resources it needs to work towards prosperity for all the country.
John M, LyneMeads, UK

I miss Cape Town badly but I can't trade "no-crime" for "constant worry about crime"
Richard, Philadelphia, USA
Both my wife and I have been through political struggles before, she in Zimbabwe and I in Namibia, then both of us in South Africa. We now have two sons and could not be happier to live in a Philadelphia suburb, where there has not been a single murder in more than ten years and not a single reported incident of any crime in our neighbourhood for more than 30 years. I miss Cape Town badly and have pictures of Table Mountain absolutely everywhere, but I can't trade "no-crime" for "constant worry about crime". Please South Africa, vote for the best candidate to solve the crime problem that is crippling "our" country.
Richard, Philadelphia, USA

As an expatriated South African, I cannot see that the country is moving forward in some respects. There is a high unemployment and the educational system is failing the future generation which it needs so badly to support. However, I wish my homeland well in what has been lost for many years. As my father always said, 'Rome was not built in a day'. Lets see that the next 10 years brings.
David Jury, London, United Kingdom

Congratulations to all South Africans for showing the world how to solve a problem without resorting to war. May the rest of us follow your example.
Tim Saunders, New Zealand

Most of the positive comments from whites are coming from outside South Africa. That says it all really. Nice idea in principle but you just need to read around the internet to see how the liberal media distorts things. Call me a pessimist but I see it all going Zimbabwe-style.
Huw Morgan, Colchester, UK

Nelson Mandela my No 1 hero of all time, oppressed by a nation for thirty years and still smiling. But the politics, regardless of persuasion still stink of corruption in any country, good words, fought for with heroes' blood, turn to hollow promises by grey men with good wages (world wide).
William Hawkins, Caerphilly Wales

The rest of the world must give South Africa its chance, if only to prove its detractors wrong
Peter Wanyonyi, Nairobi, Kenya
I do not live in South Africa, but I have been there and have witnessed the miracle of transformation that is going on there. A number of people in South Africa and elsewhere, mainly the former privileged classes, feel that things have changed for the worse for them. Such was the entrenchment of injustice in South Africa that attempts to right a wrong can themselves be termed unjust. The government's programme to return confiscated land to poor blacks is to be lauded, even as inevitable comparisons are made with next-door Zimbabwe.

Pollsters in South Africa and elsewhere seem to indicate that life for some blacks is worse than it was during apartheid. This is a shame, for we all know that none of these pollsters were there to gauge the black people's living standards during apartheid. South Africa has shown the way forward, even though pockets of resistance still persist. The rest of the world must give South Africa its chance - if only to prove its detractors wrong. I wish South Africans a peaceful voting process.
Peter Wanyonyi, Nairobi, Kenya

I am overjoyed to see this happening. Democracy will soon feel like a secured tradition for South Africa... there is really nothing we have ever needed more.
Andrew Johnston, Durban, South Africa

It was a euphoric day in SA when Nelson Mandela was released, and rightly so. There was not a dry eye in the house when ALL South Africans lined up to vote together for the first time. A day I will never forget. But my optimism has since been worn away by bad experiences. My elderly parents have been victims of crime and violence MANY times now. I was held at gunpoint and hijacked/robbed on a three-week visit back to SA last year. A good friend lost her 19 year old son in a similar incident.

My hope was that the end of apartheid would mean a better future for all of us, not just a switch-around of misery. Now it is whites who are getting killed and can't get jobs. This is an improvement? I left SA 5 years ago and have no regrets, though I still love that beautiful country. But here I don't look out my window at an 8-foot wall with electrified razor wire around the top.
Carolyn, Philadelphia, USA

To Carolyn: 15 years ago, I used to look at your "window at an 8-foot wall with electrified razor wire around the top". If I was too late in returning home, I was either beaten by your brothers or jailed by your law enforcement. Life over here has changed for the better for the oppressed majority and, of course, it has become worse for you white folks. Slowly, though, it is improving for everyone since only those who truly love South Africa stay here. I don't have any regrets either that you left for Philly. Have a good life and hopefully you will overcome your fears and prejudices.
Nelson Wanyonyi, South Africa

To Nelson Wanyonyi: I agree with your comments. I am a white South African living temporarily overseas while my wife completes her PhD studies and a year post-doc. I will be returning to SA within the next year and am full of hope for the future. Those who stand on the sidelines and criticise all the time cannot fulfil a useful role in South Africa. Only those who leave their prejudices and fears behind can step into the future with any hope of overcoming centuries of white colonialism.
Alain Dekker, Manchester, UK

I remember going to vote with my parents and black gardener who lived in the servant's quarters on our land. We all walked to the voting station and stood and waited in line and cast our first votes ever, I was 18 he was 57. We were all overjoyed. It was such a positive and special day because it was the first time any South African had really been treated like an equal.
Luc, London

Congratulations to all those involved in South Africa's democracy process. The world says thanks.
Ítalo Cavalcanti, Fortaleza, Brazil





PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific