I am not a a South African.
Keep calm, I’m not an illegal immigrant either. I moved to South Africa when I was 6 years old and legally obtained permanent residence here. This means I’m allowed to work, bank and reside in South Africa without having citizenship. I am permitted to apply for citizenship since I’ve naturalized in this country but sadly, South Africa, I decline your offer. I’ve not been denied citizenship, I just don’t want it.
My ID book reads NON SA CITIZEN… This means I can do everything a citizen of a South Africa can do except the one thing the country needs me to do. Vote. Yes, if I applied for citizenship and took the time and opportunity to call myself a South African, I would be able to offer that one additional vote but sadly, it’s just not worth it for me.
I never completely understood why I didn’t develop a desire to become a citizen of the country. I was so young when I moved here and remembered little of my birth country. Fortunately, I’ve been afforded a few travel opportunities which have, in my travels, led me back to the United Kingdom. I cannot begin to describe the feelings I experience when I travel to London, it’s as if I know in my heart and my head know that I’m home. Suddenly my solitary vote doesn’t seem too important.
So why am I still here? Well, once roots are planted its difficult to pull them from the ground. I have a husband, I have two children and I have family and friends, all here in a South Africa. For now it is my home, yet I’ve made it popular knowledge that I have a desire to relocate my family to England and somewhere in the not too distant future I hope to do this.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate South Africa. I’m not clambering at the embassy doors for a way out, it’s my home after all. What we have here for the most part is a beautiful country, great weather (if you like the weather, though my Anglo Saxon blood tends to favor the cool rainy seasons), good opportunities (I’ve never had a problem career wise, despite my skin color and the same goes for many I know of all races), unity (when a rugby match is on, not football, just rugby) and social media access (the same cannot be said for China). As I write this though, I battle to churn out the positives to be seen in South Africa because based on the recent ‘free and fair’ elections, I struggle to see freedom or fairness.
Of course, I encourage anyone allowed to vote to do so. It is imperative that your voice be heard as a citizen of this country. It is your valuable choice that adds up to a thousand valuable choices and hopefully an intelligent outcome… So, as someone who doesn’t (and can’t) vote, what gives me the right to complain when I cannot provide a contribution to the system that decides our countries fate? Truth is, I don’t generally complain. In fact, I’m still here, as affected by this countries bad decisions as ever. The time is coming for me to make my decision though, shall I apply for citizenship or shan’t I? My resolve remains a resounding no, sadly, I shan’t.
I refuse to be tarnished by the same brush of a country that fairly allows for the lynching of rural residents who choose to break the mould and vote against the existing government. How disgusting that a video of a woman being savagely beaten to death goes viral and shows nothing more than the backwards nature of our political freedom. How free she was as she lay grounded by the axe blows to her forehead, how free and fair was her election? It’s definitely a fair election when parties are going out of there way and taking time from their busy schedules to offer the impoverished communities money (R50) and clothing (branded t-shifts) to entice the masses into a vote. Of course, the illiterate and uneducated understand that R50 will feed their family that day but the bigger picture is in shadow, another vote won by shameless bribery, that’s fair surely but for the tax payer, definitely not free. How sad that the most valuable piece of paper you can mark for the government gets left uncounted, that boxes upon boxes of discarded ballots are being used as fire fuel to the poor, I’d say that’s a pretty free and fair election. The icing on the cake would be the theft of my mobile number to punt your criminal party to me days before and days after the election without my permission, but I guess you assumed you didn’t need this permission did you? Free and fair? Free. Fair. My arse.
So if I was a citizen, posting my thumb selfie, post voting day, would I be truly confident that the elections were free and fair and I can sleep better knowing all that could have been done was in fact done? Hardly, in fact they were probably rigged from the start and Nelson Mandela is churning in his grave at the disgusting behavior of our government and total shambles that is our backwards voting system. It can’t be that bad though right? Because google our elections and ten websites will pop up reiterating how great they actually were, going off without a hitch. Too few links come up with the truth, the anguish and the murder behind elections 2014 and what’s being done to rectify it.
I constantly say ‘our’ when referring to South Africa. The petrol price sucks but I have petrol. eTolls suck but I drive on roads. Internet prices suck but I have a modem. Food prices disgust me but I eat. Traffic is disgusting but I drive to work daily. Education is in the toilet but at least my children have schools to go to. Racism is rife but I’m free to befriend all colors and creeds. Water is dirty, but I can drink it. Eskom goes out more than an old man’s back but I have a power source. So many things here to upset me South Africa, yet I don’t complain. This time, I’m afraid you’ve pushed the boundaries and I’m no murderer nor will I be an accomplice to one. I’m sorry South Africa, citizenship denied.