Are we responsible for poor government?
The back bone of effective policy making is effective political participation. In a democratic republic, citizens have a social responsibility to influence and pressure government to act in favour of the community as a whole. Citizens should remember that it is in fact they who empower and create government through elections. Being an election year, South Africans need to be reminded of their important role in the public decision making process. South Africans feel that their role is either limited or with minimal impact.
In the 2009 elections 77.3% of the electorate registered to vote, which is a promising figure, but a mere 56.57% of those registered eventually made it to the voting stations. In other words, only a little more than half of the voters of South Africa went to the voting station to cast their votes. The figures are even more alarming with regard to the youth of South Africa. In 2013 the Independent Electoral Commission pointed out that only 12% of those between 18 and 19 years of age and 65% of those aged between 20 and 29 registered to vote. For anyone concerned, this should be shocking figures, seeing that it emphasises the apathetic culture South Africans hold toward political participation. Voting is the basic form of political participation, apart from protests, rioting, petitions, campaigning, and etcetera. Therefore poor voter turnout figures suggests indirectly to overall poor participation in the politics of our country.
Political participation does not end at the voting station. Why do we make it seem that we accept public decisions and government actions that we in fact do not condone? Why do we keep our discomforts with public action and our discontent with government policies between the four walls of our homes and the comfort of our living room couches? It will not benefit the South African’s cause if we project our frustrations at the television screen. It must be directed to those responsible for the multiple frustrations we hold. Vote when it is Election Day, protest if the climate requires it and complain if you have complaints. It is your fundamental right to participate in the politics of our Country. Ordinary South Africans should avoid an apathetic attitude towards his or her influence in the political arena. There is always a fight to be fought and a multitude of ways to effectively participate in that fight. Let you voice count.
By Melt Botes
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