Elections in Africa have often assumed the characteristic of being turbulent affairs whose outcome is often disputed. This has tended to complicate transitions during electoral periods, from one government to another.
It is in this regard that all eyes are on South-Africa, for many reasons; chief among which is that the vast resource-rich country is one of Africa’s youngest democracies, only 15 years old.
This is the fourth general election after the first popular elections marking the end of apartheid rule in 1994. The new South-Africa was ushered in by much hope and euphoria, with the ‘Madiba’ magic being felt across continents.
The world has watched the country with a population of over 48 million transit from being the bastion of racial segregation after most African nations attained independence, to being dubbed a ‘rainbow nation,’ of hope and promise.
Indeed for the ‘rainbow nation’ challenges of uniting a people who have previously been polarized along racial and class lines are many, thus the political turbulence suffered at times over the past decade plus.
This has been compounded by deepening poverty among the black working classes and peasantry. However many see this election, whatever the outcome, as marking a step forward in deepening the once fragile democracy.
The campaign period has largely been peaceful, with campaigning taking the normal path of any multi-party democracy. That is why today as we go to press, we urge South-Africans to treasure their hard won freedoms.
That is by ensuring that all contesting parties and their supporters accept the outcome of the elections and combine efforts to work together towards realizing the dreams of the rainbow nation.
The challenges even after electing the fourth post-apartheid President vary but are mainly underpinned by the pressing need to close the gap between the poor and the rich.
On the minds of many South-Africans who go out to vote today is the strong desire that the next President delivers jobs, housing, transport and other basic necessities such as access to ARV’s, clean water and electricity.
Their needs so simple and so basic can only be made a reality by a strong leadership that is determined to deliver.
Therein lies the challenge for the next President and his team.
South-Africa has to think beyond her borders, knowing that all of us on the African continent are looking to her having a peaceful transition.