As the nation marks its sixth democratic elections, South Africans are still pleading for government to tend to their basic needs.
Fin24 spoke to several shopkeepers and vendors in Athlone and the Cape Town CBD, who were hoping to make some income on Election Day. Some of them had already cast their votes, while others were hoping to go after closing shop. They also shared with Fin24 what they hoped a new government would do to improve their lives – such as building toilets and dealing with crime.
Marwwan Fernandez, who works at a Spaza shop in the Bokmakierie community in Athlone, told Fin24 that there had been little change in the foot traffic to the shop, which is just a few metres away from a voting station.
“No one is making money on Election Day,” he said. The shop serves the nearby community with basics like bread, snacks and cooldrinks. A customer comments that everyone who comes into the shop likely lives nearby and that there would not be unusual traffic on Election Day.
Fernandez had not yet voted at the time Fin24 spoke to him, but he planned to cast his vote later in the day.
Less corruption, please
Not far from Athlone, Mohi Uddin is running a takeaway shop in Gatesville. He told Fin24 that because it is Ramadan – the fasting month for Muslims – his food takeaways have slowed down.
Uddin had already cast his vote at 09:00.
Asked what he would want the new government to do for businesses, his response was simple: “Less corruption.”
“The economy is very low, the new president must make this right,” he added.
At a spice shop at a nearby market in Gatesville, shop assistant Faatima Chaule said business had been quiet, like a typical public holiday. The rainy weather and Ramadan had also impacted business, she said.
…With a side of less taxation
Chaule had already voted, and said she would want the new government to bring down taxes. She had worked on an assignment about taxes, she added. “People expect free education, but they don’t realise the taxpayers will be paying for it,” she told Fin24.
Her concern is that taxes are so high, that taxpayers can’t even afford to send their own children to university because they’re already paying too much, she told Fin24.
Ebrahiem Brenner, who rents space to sell clothes outside a Shoprite in Gatesville, said he planned to vote as soon as the retailer closed at 14:00. He said there had hardly been any business.
Toilets, houses, pensioner care
Asked what government should do, he responded frankly, “There’s a lot, I do not even think you have enough paper to write it all down.”
Brenner said there are not proper facilities in the vicinity to conduct business well.
His concerns are shared by Nazeem Petersen, who has been selling spices in the same area for five years. “We pay R200 per month to rent space. There is no security, no one is cleaning up – you can see the way the place looks,” Petersen said. There aren’t any safe toilets close by, he explained.
“There should at least be two toilets close by,” he said. The toilets in the area are either too far or closed. “Security is a problem and they do not clean it the way they are supposed to. We pay R200 and it [has been going] on like this for more than 10 years, with no improvement,” he said.
Vegetable vendor Sarifa Cloete helps customers. (Photo: Lameez Omarjee, Fin24).
Sharifa Cloete, a vegetable vendor, said she wants government to increase pensions, because R1 700 is not enough.
She is not a pensioner herself, but she sees pensioners struggling to buy groceries at Shoprite, and she ends up selling vegetables on credit to people who need help.
“I am very concerned for the pensioners… because I see them coming in here to buy and some come to me, saying they are still waiting for their pension to come through, so I help them.”
Sandra Bosman has been selling flowers in Adderley Street for 30 years. (Photo: Lameez Omarjee)
Sandra Bosman, who has been selling flowers in Adderley Street in the CBD for 30 years, said that business had been very slow on election day and she only sold her first bouquet for the day after lunchtime.
She planned to go voting later in the afternoon.
What she wants from the new government is a house. “I want a home. I’ve been on the waiting list for 10 years. I’m still waiting.”
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