My vote is my power
No country in the world can match general elections in South Africa. The entertainment value of our election campaigns is priceless.
The battle for the hearts and minds of South African citizens is fierce as political parties take their election campaigns around the country.
Without fail, every 5 years at election time, politicians miraculously appear out of the woodwork and touch base with us, the people on the ground, to express their concern for us. This is the time when they bombard us with colourful campaign rallies at our best stadiums and door to door walkabouts in our neighbourhoods.
Houses, jobs, service delivery, education, crime, combatting drugs and substance abuse feature prominently in their election promises.
The better resourced parties also throw in food parcels, blankets and t-shirts to prove how much they care, especially for what they label as the poorest of the poor.
And in trying to outdo each other they engage in insults and name calling, gossip and slandering to convince us how bad their political opponents really are.
New parties have also emerged to throw their hats into the political ring.
Julius Malema advocates that the dress code for parliament be changed from the trendy outfits that MP'S wear to overalls. Because parliament is where MP's go to work, not to sleep on the job.
COPE isn't coping because many of their prominent members have crossed the floor to the ANC with a smooth moonwalking dance in search of a better life, for themselves.
Only time will tell whether these new kids on the block are serious contenders or mere pretenders for political power.
Meanwhile back in the Western Cape the ANC and the DA are going toe-to -toe to secure the Coloured vote to ensure that they take control of the province. The ANC is convinced that it will win back the province while the DA is trying very hard to keep its nose above the smell of the many service delivery and poo protests.
After the miracle elections of 27 April 1994 we trusted and expected our elected representatives in the government of our new democracy to deliver on the promise of freedom.
With the loyalty, respect, trust and high expectations that we had in our leaders we understandably became complacent and lowered our guard.
Looking back over 20 years in our new democracy, much has been achieved and done to restore our dignity.
But sadly much more needs to be done. So much needs to be restored.
Nelson Mandela voiced his concern about the paradox of South African life.
“The feeling of great gratitude for so much achieved, but great disappointment at so much that is going wrong”.
However this way of thinking must never become an excuse for us not to vote. We shouldn’t allow these circumstances to marginalise the real meaning of citizenship.
As citizens we have every right, in fact it is our responsibility to demand that we be treated with dignity and respect, and that we receive the services that we rightly deserve.
The idea of what it means to be a citizen is too important and needs to be taken back to its more profound value.
When we think of citizens as just voters, we reduce them to being consumers of elected officials and leaders. We see this most vividly at election time, when candidates become the saviours and the solutions to our problems.
We must understand, and our elected representatives should be made to understand, that we don’t vote them into power. We vote for them to serve our interests and our needs. We do not vote for leaders. We vote for people to represent us.
As citizens we can do one of two things:
1. We can capitulate on our responsibility of citizenship, accept the status quo and just keep on moaning about corruption, poor service delivery, and the arrogance of our elected representatives.
2. Or we can actively and vigorously challenge the degeneration that is taking root in our beloved country.
As citizens we must demand better because we deserve better.
My vote is my power.
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