Go to the polls to make a difference

2009-01-24 00:00

The inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th president and first black president of the United States of America, will no doubt be the biggest news item for a long time.

I cannot recall the last time so many people were in the same place for an event or when so much security was in the same area, if, indeed, it has ever happened. What struck me more than the historical significance of the event, was how the Democrats and the Republicans were able to put all their fundamental differences aside and embrace Obama.

A total of 53% of Americans voted for Obama, while the other 47% voted for Republican John McCain, yet they have realised that their problems are shared and they require a common attitude and approach.

This was further illustrated by Obama’s speeches. He did not point a finger at his predecessor, George W. Bush, but provided solutions instead, such as pulling out of Iraq and shutting down the Guantanamo Bay prison.

When I looked at this reality, I could not help but think of South Africa and how self-ordained South Africans have turned their backs on the country and shirked their responsibilities.

True citizens of the country, should find and provide solutions to the country’s challenges and taking the next Qantas flight to Australia is not the way to do it. Go to the polls to make a difference.

People make a difference in a country, not the elected government. If this were false, politicians would have solved the situation in Zimbabwe by now. It’s just that too often people underestimate their power and influence.

Americans have been putting up with the Bush family for a second eight-year term within a quarter of a century and this is enough for a lifetime.

They wanted change and that is what they got, although the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

There has also been a lot of talk about whether or not South Africans in other parts of the world should be allowed to vote and I do not understand why this is even an issue. We all know Australia is South Africa’s 10th province, just like Hillbrow and Point Road (Mahatma Gandhi to be politically correct) are Nigerian suburbs.

I do not see why people who are not residing in this country and who are not at least affected by the day-to-day bread and butter issues we are facing should be allowed to vote. They cannot know what is good for us and can’t have a feel for what is going on on the ground here.

They must make peace with their decisions to turn their backs on this country. For those who may be away for business and want to vote, if voting is that important they must heed the call and come home to vote.

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