SOUTH AFRICA: Desmond Doshane, "I want a president who can unite everyone"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Desmond Doshane, 19, is one of 1.6 million newly registered South African voters. He will be casting a ballot for the first time in elections due in the first half of 2009, and told IRIN what this means to him.

"Our leaders, like Mandela, went through difficult times to enable young people like me to cast their vote. I am not sure who I am going to vote for now, but I would like a president who will make sure some of my concerns are addressed.

"As a resident from [the Johannesburg township of] Alexandra, I hope that the next president of the country can be able to create jobs for us young people. There is a lot of criminal activity in Alex and I want the police to do more in making this township safe for us. The police are not doing enough to protect us; the women are afraid of being raped if they walk at night.

"I want a president who can unite everyone. I was not happy with the xenophobia attacks that took place here [in May] - we saw people being burnt alive. That was bad. What kind of society burns people?

"If the government had made sure that we all live together as one, we could have avoided the useless killing and displacement of foreigners - some have lived with us for many years.

"I also want the next president to build houses. We also want [subsidised] RDP houses under the government's Reconstruction and Development Programme. I live in a shack and I want a house where, if it rains, the water does not come in.

"I have been watching the US elections and I think the new US president is cool. I hope he can inspire some people in our country that you can do good things for your country.

"Sadly, we do not have young people involved in politics, but I hope someday we will have our own 'Obama' that will get everyone interested in politics."