Voters in the South African black township of Soweto went to the polls on Saturday (15 April) to vote in the community council elections.
Voters in the South African black township of Soweto went to the polls on Saturday (15 April) to vote in the community council elections. The election has been boycotted by many of Soweto's leading political figures, and the turnout of voters was low.
SYNOPSIS: The South African government hoped the Soweto elections would demonstrate its planned "new deal" for Soweto, the sprawling black township on the fringe of Johannesburg. The election has been scorned by most of the township's political figures, the leaders who emerged during the bloody riots of 18 months ago. But for those who did decide to take part, it was a full-scale election campaign.
The unofficial Committee of Ten, a leading force in local politics, was arrested en masse last October and along with other prominent black leaders has refused to endorse the latest elections. South Africa's new supremo for Black Affairs, Doctor Connie Mulder, has promised that the community council will eventually enjoy greater powers of self-government in Soweto than any white municipal government. But for the moment, it will be a purely advisory body to the local government official who is responsible for black affairs. And he is white.
The council is to be a 30-member advisory body with no executive power. It is planned to fill a vacuum of leadership which has existed since the anti-Apartheid riots of 1976, in which more than 500 people died. Soweto is much calmer these days: there are no more riots, and students have gone back to their classrooms. Many of the arrested black leaders have been released from prison. The local politicians boycotting the council elections say they want a council with full executive, rather than advisory, power.