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The recently held local government elections - held on March 01, 2006 - were neither an expression of the 'will' of the people nor a sign that 'our democracy is maturing' as Thabo Mbeki in collusion with the Independent Electoral commission [IEC] wants us to believe.

Instead, the elections should be viewed in the correct context: an unequivocal message to the ruling African National Congress [ANC] that the poor masses are 'gatvol'.

Unwittingly or wittingly, a substantial number of the electorate has rejected the top down neo-liberal policies that have exacerbated the country's poverty.

The government's apartheid era-style repressive response to civil society's organised 'election boycott' campaigns needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Just two days prior to the elections, the Durban City Council brutally attempted to prevent a legal march by the ever-growing movement of the shack dwellers 'Abahlali Base Mjondolo'.

Mainstream institutions and 'experts', who are always quick to remind us of how wonderful our 'democracy' is, are yet to condemn this horrific action and police repression in Khutsong, which, for many, undoubtedly, brought back memories of the 1980's, and the notorious 'State of Emergency'.

Despite the IEC's ambitious and extravagant 'Power of X' media campaign, less than 48% of the registered 22 million voters cast their vote. Of these, less than 11 million voted ANC. A large number did not even bother to register.

It is therefore puzzling that the ANC is "humbled" and "grateful" of this embarrassing situation.

What the ANC and government should be asking is why is the South African electorate so disillusioned with the electoral process, only twelve years since the first democratic election in 1994.

In the days leading up to the election, the public was bombarded with numerous clearly well calculated news items of how effectively government was 'delivering' on services. The evening news increasingly broadcast reports on government ministers and officials officially opening schools or clinics in indigent parts of the country.

'Kingpins' of this propaganda project should be made aware that there is absolutely nothing special with Manto Tshabalala Msimang opening a new clinic in KwaZulu-Natal or Naledi Pandoor opening a school in some rural area. It is simply their job for which they are handsomely remunerated.

And access to adequate education and health care are constitutionally guaranteed basic rights which, even after twelve years of so-called democracy, remain elusive for the majority.

The elections were also a further indictment to opposition parties, who had, in the midst of electioneering, portrayed themselves as an 'alternative' to the ANC, and pledged to fight corruption and poverty. Their failure to acknowledge that it is the top down capitalist policies of the ruling party that breed corruption and poverty grossly undermined their claims.

Whilst most progressive formations might be discouraged by the ANC's 66% victory, there is certainly an indication that the level of dissatisfaction with the current 'developmental' agenda is growing.

There is an urgent need to educate the poors on alternatives to neo-liberalism. The masses need to be made aware that there are alternatives to the current 'criminal' systerm that forces many to steal, lie, cheat, and even sell their bodies to survive.

Indeed, a systerm that seeks to commodify every aspects of our lives, with dire consequences for the poorest of the poor, must be condemned and fought with the same amount of vigour and rage that characterised the struggle against apartheid.