You and your vote

2011-05-11 00:00

WITH the local government election taking place on May 18, it is distressing to note how flippant some people are about casting their vote, especially when one considers how many people have actually died for the right to vote and have a say in how they are governed.

A vote is a very valuable commodity and should be used wisely.

Every single vote counts because sometimes a worthy candidate is not elected merely for the sake of a single vote and an outright council majority could hinge on one candidate’s election.

Consider all the issues before voting. One should not vote for a particular party just because parents or spouses do, or because of the colour of their skin. It must be an informed decision based on all the issues.

There have been numerous reports about people who are not satisfied with service delivery, and after voicing their complaints and even protesting, they have not been able to change anything or get satisfaction. When you vote it is the one occasion on which you have all the power and ability to change things. If you are satisfied with the service delivery you have received and the manner in which your rates and taxes have been used, you have the power with your vote to ensure that the same party is re-elected to continue giving you the same treatment.

On the other hand, you are equally empowered by your vote to replace the governing party with another party that has shown that it can and will improve service delivery and will use your rates in a manner which will be of more benefit to you, the payer.

You should not be convinced only by what people say they are going to do for you, but more so by what they have done in the past. Talk is cheap.

Check whether the candidate seeking your vote has been involved in community service, such as police forums, ratepayers’ associations and community activities, or whether they are just making empty promises with no past record of service to the community or proven ability to back them up.

It has been claimed that independent candidates could represent the people better than political party candidates because they live in the town. However, political party candidates also live in and have an interest in the town. While many people may feel that a council without political parties would be best, the fact is that, in accordance with legislation, municipal councils not only include political parties but also reserve half of the seats for party representatives with the balance being made up of elected ward councillors mainly from parties. Therefore, in this scenario, an independent in a council of 73 councillors would have negligible voting power when issues are put to the vote. So an independent promising to make major changes is at best misleading the public, probably through ignorance of the system. If your candidate is going to be able to make an impact on your behalf, he or she will require the backing and voting support which parties have.

A political party has the added advantage of being able to represent you on all the council portfolio committees by deploying its members with the most suitable expertise to each committee. A further advantage is that they are able to follow up issues to provincial and national levels through their party MPs. When choosing which party to vote for, one should compare how they have delivered services and managed the finances in municipalities where they have the majority and have governed.

A most important fact to bear in mind when going to vote on May 18 is that each person has three votes and it is imperative that you cast all three.

1. To select the person who will represent you in your ward/area.

2. To select a political party, thereby determining how many seats that party will have on your local municipality and, therefore, how much power it will have.

3. To select a political party which will determine how many seats that party will have on the uMgungundolvu District Municipality.

This is your chance to have your say. Do not be intimidated, because votes are totally private and nobody will know for whom you cast your vote.

• Rodger Ashe is the DA whip in the Msunduzi Municipality.

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