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Gary Younge
'Now the ANC has got to deliver'

In fact, the only three things that haven't changed since I spent the last election with the Moches, are that they are all unemployed, with the exception of the father; all - two parents, three children and two grandchildren - still live in the same one-bedroom brick house; and all of them are going to vote for the African National Congress.

And so Mumsey got up this morning, put on two jumpers and a checked coat to fight the chill, and made her way to the polling station.

"The last five years was like the first paragraph of a new, long story," she says. "The story under apartheid was so bad the ANC could not do everything immediately. They had to start carefully. Now the next paragraph must be for us. Now they have to deliver."

The maxim in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra yesterday was not so much "vote early, vote often" but "vote early if you want to vote at all".

One queue stretched for more than two miles. Women in face packs, men playing cards and flirting youngsters all joined a waiting game being played out throughout the country - everyone standing still so that the country can move forward.

All around you can see the progress that has been made in the past five years. The tarmac roads, the new houses on the other side of the stream, some new clinics and slightly newer cars in the streets.

But more striking is how much has stayed the same: the shacks built from corrugated iron, the open rubbish tips and women carrying water from the standpipes.

The most significant change for Mumsey is the calm. During the last election campaign the Inkatha Freedom Party had made verbal threats on her life and killed several of her fellow ANC supporters.

"During that time we were just taking risks. Everything was risky. It was really bad. This time things have calmed down. Not everyone is ANC and even though they do not always show themselves, there is no fighting either," she says.

After the last election, in which Mumsey was heavily involved as an ANC activist, she fell ill through exhaustion. She has only just started going out again after almost three years of illness. Her eyes are still sunken, but now there is flesh on her cheeks and the beginnings of a smile are etching their way on to her face.

The last time I saw Mumsey's sister, in 1994, she was in fine form, vowing never to learn the Afrikaner national anthem, Die Stem, even though it was now incorporated into the new South African anthem, and telling me that it was time I got married.

She died of diabetes last week, aged 59, leaving a daughter and two grandchildren. The new clinics helped keep her alive for that long, says Mumsey, although they are still poorly resourced.

Mumsey herself has not been looking for work, but both her elder daughters, Nicky, 27, and Ndele, 25, have been trying to get a job with little success. Nicky's son, Thabang, has just started at an infants' school that did not exist five years ago; Ndele's son Sapho will follow suit next year.

Mapere, the youngest sister, is just about to sit her school leaving exam. "I think Mapere will have the best chance of all the girls because her school is much better," says Mumsey. "She will have more choice if she gets her matric."

All of them were out yesterday helping the independent electoral commission at voting stations around Johannesburg. In the meantime the father, who has become a devout member of the Zion Christian Church, the region's largest denomination, supports the family with his job at the textile factory, just as he did in 1994.

"Things have been good at work lately," he says. "We have been sending a lot of things abroad. Things are okay now. Soon I think they will be better but it is only the ANC that can make it better."

The Moches could do with some meaningful changes. They have acquired a new tele vision, a phone/fax and a stereo in the past five years, but they want jobs and a bigger house.

They knew these things wouldn't fall out of the sky but one gets the impression that though their faith in the ANC is solid, it is also a finite resource. "I like Thabo Mbeki," says Mumsey.

"He talks straight and he says what he thinks and he likes discipline. I don't think he will forget us."

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