Former ANC Leaders Tell South African Voters to Spoil Ballots

Former senior members of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress have called on voters to spoil their ballot papers in the May 7 election to register their disillusionment with President Jacob Zuma’s government.

Ronnie Kasrils, who was a Cabinet minister from 1999 to 2008, and ex-Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge today introduced the “Sidikiwe! Vukani!” campaign, which means “We are fed up! Wake Up!” in the local Xhosa language.

“We are setting up an electoral platform for the disgruntled,” Madlala-Routledge said in an interview with website. People who spoil their vote “are saying out of all these parties on the ballot paper, there is not a single one that I would support.”

The ANC is facing its toughest contest since coming to power in 1994 in the face of high unemployment, violent township protests against a lack of housing and basic services and corruption allegations that have tainted senior party members including Zuma.

The economic policies of the ANC and the Democratic Alliance, the main opposition, are designed to create more inequality in an economy where one in four people are without jobs, Madlala-Routledge said.

Kasrils left the government in 2008 when former President Thabo Mbeki was ousted as leader of the country by the ruling party. Madlala-Routledge, who was a member of the ruling party’s top decision-making body, resigned as an ANC lawmaker in May 2009, the same month Zuma became president.

Among the supporters of the campaign are Barney Pityana, the former vice chancellor of the University of South Africa and head of the South African Human Rights Commission, Louise Colvin, a spokeswoman for the group, said by phone.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the campaign is “disruptive, reckless and counter-revolutionary.”

“The people of South Africa, led by their organization the African National Congress, paid the highest price for the right to vote,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Reactionary statements therefore that call for such careless behavior as spoiling ballot papers is tantamount to undermining the long struggles and the sacrifices of our people.”