5 May 2014

South Africa: Hannibal Elector - Bekkersdal Redux - Where the Election Goes to Die

Photo: Sofia Tosolari/AllAfrica
Standing in line to vote (file photo).


The ruling party was not chased out of the contested, occasionally violence-ridden community of Bekkersdal. But nor was it embraced. Could this grim non-event be the story of the 2014 election?

A story of trickle-down economics in the age of South African Freedom.

The location of Bekkersdal, like everywhere else, is divided between the haves and have-nots. The haves--relative designation, you understand--live in the formal part of the location, with RDP houses electrified by electricity, sanitised by sanitation. Meanwhile, the have-nots inhabit a larger universe of mkukus, or shacks, all of which are "off the grid", as the folks at Africa Burn like to say. This latter part of Bekkersdal is entirely unserviced by anything so much as a Victorian-era mod con, therefore one encounters pitted dirt roads, bucket latrines, and the rustic charms of yesteryear.

You'd imagine that everyone in the shack section of Bekkersdal is broke and jobless, and you'd be largely correct. But there are enough workingmen and women among their number to count as a chunky statistic--folks who aren't eligible for an RDP residence, and who don't quite have the income to relocate their shack to the location proper. These people are trapped...

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