Manifestos: Make ’em count, says black sash

2011-05-05 00:00

POLITICAL parties are failing to use their manifestos and election campaigns to clarify their positions on citizens’ rights to water, healthcare, food and the obligation of municipalities to deliver effectively on these services.

This is the view of human rights organisation the Black Sash, which carried out a survey on where the five big political parties in the country stand on the delivery of these basic services.

Black Sash advocacy programme manager Nkosikhulule Nyembezi said it is disappointing that political parties have not made better use of their manifestos and election campaigns.

He said party manifesto promises are important in a democracy because they tie representatives to a set of promised policies about which voters can make informed choices in the elections and later hold the parties accountable.

Nyembezi said a vote for one party rather than another should be more than a symbolic gesture.

“It should start with a comparison of the manifestos and extend to casting a vote that will influence government policy in a manner that makes human rights real.”

He added that with just two weeks to go until the local government elections he hopes the review will encourage voters to push all political parties and leaders for more substantial and concrete answers to critical service delivery questions.

For the review the ANC, DA, IFP, UDM and ACDP were sent questions about their policies and manifestos and asked to provide written replies. The Black Sash also conducted interviews with party representatives and reviewed the different election manifestos, speeches and policy documents.

Some of their findings include:

• Very few political parties have taken an uncompromising position on how they intend to hold their representatives accountable for their actions within municipalities.

• Party manifestos are “disappointingly thin on the alarming state of food security”.

•*Inappropriate and disproportionate restrictions are being placed on poor households because of their inability to pay for water, despite the fact that these households use just one percent of the country’s water.

To read the full review, “Where do our political parties stand on socio-economic rights?”, go to www.blacksash.org.za.

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