7 May 2014
Liberation struggle stalwart and long-time friend of the late Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, said he felt Madiba’s absence especially strongly as he voted in the country’s fifth democratic elections on Wednesday.
“We miss him, not only today, but all the time,” Kathrada said after casting his vote at the University of Witswatersrand education campus in Parktown, Johannesburg on Wednesday morning. “But he was a human being, and the time comes when human beings are no longer with us.
“The policy that [Mandela] was wedded to is firmly in place,” Kathrada said. “Although we miss him, we know President Zuma and his fellow executive members are carrying out the policy that is laid down by the [African National Congress], the same policy that Madiba and President Mbeki carried out.”
When Kathrada arrived at the voting station, he was delayed as young people asked him to pose for pictures with them. Kathrada smiled patiently as many youngsters took turns using their camera phones.
Afterwards, Kathrada said it was important for young South Africans to vote. “They must exercise their vote. Many people sacrificed their lives to be able to vote, and particularly we appeal to the young people, because it is their future.”
Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, on a visit to the Parktown polling station, said he was happy with how smoothly voting had gone so far.
“I am very happy. I voted at Buccleuch Primary School, and already at 6am when I was there the queues were starting. It shows that that there is no voter apathy in South Africa. People are very active, and it is good for democracy.”