Millions of South Africans will cast or spoil their votes depending on what ear you listened with to the many democratic voice that have so fiercely contested for the precious equity that is our vote.
The "vote no" call is not necessarily misguided
After months and weeks of being bombarded with manifestos loaded with assurances of a better tomorrow should we be daring enough to trade with our X on the D-day and of course calls of those who claim that following sober reflection and deep meditation they have concluded that South Africa today is poorer for lack of credible political parties that can take it to its next phase of our democratic revolution - whatever that means, I have come to my own conclusion that there is credence to the Vote No Campaign especially if you consider it's underlying connotations.
Let me put it to you that the Vote No call is not a misguided call by disillusioned liberation stalwarts as some have dismissed it. On the contrary (in the weeks leading to the historic May 7) a far telling admission than many care to admit is that this call revels something pertinent about South African post democracy politics.
If you say to us that we should embrace the Vote No Campaign through either spoiling the ballot or voting for any of the minnows you are effectively equating a vote to the smaller parties with a spoilt ballot - it is my opinion that this could not be far from the truth.
A look at the last four national elections shows that only four or five parties have really been consistent contenders at the polls. The rest of the parties only gain momentum during elections only to fade before the ink could even dry on the ballot paper.
Even the so called experienced small parties have been dying a slow death, either, due to internal splits or lack of capacity to develop new leaders to carry the baton forward or due to failure to develop ideologies that find traction with the electorate thus rendering them irrelevant.
Generally the number of parties that get to compete for the national and provincial elections has been growing marginally every five years. One wonder as to, to what benefit has this been to the electorate.
Unfortunately most of these small parties are a one man show. There is hardly ever a change of leadership. Just look at the IFP, UDM, ACDP and Freedom Front they have not been spared this chronic problem. It is almost as if the leaders more than content with getting at least enough votes to guarantee them a seat or two in parliament.
2014 is no different. Again the number of parties contesting election of the National Assembly has slightly increased. The new comers EFF, Agang SA and others not worth a mention here are promising to radically change the political land scape. They would have saved themselves much trouble had they bothered to ask COPE how it has coped since 2009. I doubt if there would have been a good story to tell - the party started falling apart even before it set foot in parliament. I will not be surprised if the next five years will mark the demise of the party into obscurity.
Many of the smaller parties would probably do well as interest groups that are aligned to one of the big parties. Often the interests of the smaller parties are so narrow that this makes them to not have an impact on the broader national landscape. How do you start a party whose only ideology is cannabis legislation?
While I support multi-party democracy, I think that perhaps the time has come for many of the chancers to close shop. The fewer parties we have the better it will be for our democracy. Maybe then we will have real competition for our votes. Until then I honestly can't see how I would be willing to spoil my vote by giving it to a party that won't even be around in the next elections.
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Your 2014 Election Summary
Smaller parties, notably, took a beating. AGANG never made it to the start and COPE became a footnote. The IFP's support was halved, a prime reason being the NFP (IFP rebels), entering the KZN political arena.