Get out there and vote

2009-04-22 00:00

The campaigning is over, and today South Africans will go to the polls in record numbers if the registration figures are any indicator. Of course, the overall result is a foregone conclusion, and the African National Congress will be returned to power with a large majority, as an expression of the popular will. Some voters will stay away out of apathy or a sense of disillusionment at the non-fulfilment of previous election promises. There will also be some who feel that no party represents their aspirations fully.

The encouraging thing is that such sentiments are in the minority. While voter apathy may be rife in the old, established democracies of the northern hemisphere (although the United States, heart-warmingly, gave the lie to that last November), in the new South African democracy voters remain enthusiastic about the democratic process. Although the final outcome isn’t an issue, voter registration is at an all-time high because people remain eager to have their say and play their part. And this endorses the validity of our democracy as does nothing else.

For which, alone, we should be grateful. Obviously, everyone will be waiting anxiously to see what the new regime will bring, and what its style of governance — whether political, economic or social — will be once the results are in and the hard work starts. In the meantime, however, every eligible South African needs to get out there and vote, as thoughtfully and wisely as possible, for the party whose previous track record and current manifesto relate most closely to their beliefs, needs and aspirations. Every vote really does count.

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