Pule Mabe: ANC leads the way in keeping democracy alive

2019-11-10 06:00
(Photo by Gallo Images/Sowetan/Vathiswa Ruselo)

(Photo by Gallo Images/Sowetan/Vathiswa Ruselo)

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Dear Mr President

All of us as citizens in a democratic state are obliged to observe and carry out our civic responsibilities in a manner that promotes a vibrant and thriving democracy which serves everybody's interests.

Civic responsibility is defined as the responsibility of a citizen and is comprised of actions and attitudes associated with democratic governance and social participation. The new South Africa that was born in 1994 following centuries of social exclusion and oppression of the majority is a place that caters for everyone irrespective of race, gender and creed. This new democratic space has allowed everyone's voice to be heard and beholden the government to serve everyone.

Actions of civic responsibility can be displayed in advocacy of various causes such as political, economic, civil and environmental or quality of life issues.

The African National Congress (ANC) has enjoyed and been endorsed by the majority of the voters in all the polls held since 1994. All the voters who took the time to go to the polls have effectively carried out their civic responsibility and given the ANC a vote of confidence and mandate to lead transformation of society.

While the liberal media has sought to drive a wedge and divide the ANC, the people have always spoken through the power of their universal franchise through their vote. In particular, the media and commentators have pointed out the decline in support for the ANC in some of the metropolitan areas, especially in Gauteng. With a high turnout in the last election by international standards, the commentators still view it as "acceptable" in a highly politicised country such as South Africa.

Be that as it may, the ANC has reached out to the so-called disillusioned potential voter, particularly the youth who constitute 30% of the electorate in 2019. The ANC has defied the odds to continue being the leader of society in the face of the onslaught by the media and their elites. Having brought the apartheid regime to its knees following years of struggle, the ANC has shown enormous and similar resilience as it sought to lead a better life for all citizens in an inclusive society.

Against all odds, the tripartite Alliance remains the only vehicle capable of defending, consolidating and deepening the National Democratic Revolution. In the last 25 years since the attainment of democracy, the ANC has demonstrated that it has the interests of everybody at heart by consistently delivering on its promise to improve the lives of South African citizens and in particular, being the champion of the poorest of the poor and vulnerable. This is shown in the manner that the caring government has provided shelter to those who cannot afford to build their houses, by proving free water to the poor and through the extensive social welfare system which puts food on the tables of the poor. The provision of these services had previously been ignored by the oppressive government which excluded the majority of citizens from having a say in their own welfare.

Mr President, there can be no doubt that the ANC has done more than any other previous organisation in uniting society and ensuring that the government delivers.

International observes remain at awe at the manner South Africa transitioned from oppression to a democracy with limited shedding of blood. The negotiated settlement which ushered in democracy was unprecedented and remains a model for the rest of the world. As former United States president Barack Obama observed in 2013, South Africa has shown a commitment to the constitution, rule of law and equal treatment for all people.

At the Young African leaders Initiative Town Hall at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto, Obama remarked that he was inspired by the story of South Africa which triumphed against the oppression of the majority to become a thriving democracy.

Mr President, it is crucial and important to maintain and sustain this democracy and it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate and ensure that indeed the government continues to carry out the mandate of providing essential services to all the people of South Africa. The capacity of the state to deliver services is only effective and reliant on its citizens to observing their end of the bargain.   

Whereas the people ensured that the apartheid stronghold was broken through the boycott of payment for services, the same cannot be effective in a democratic state which caters for everybody's interest. The withholding of payment for services rendered can only bring harm to the government and be detrimental for the rest of society in the long run.

The user pay principle has been highly efficient in the private sectors such as the telecommunications industry. The users know too well that they get service for what they pay for. The same principle has been applied excellently in the cable and satellite television industry.

It should therefore be logical that the citizens understand that the same principle is relevant in the provision of public services by the government.

Civic responsibility should be the national duty of every single one of us in order to ensure that democracy thrives and the government strengthens the capacity to carry out its mandate.

However, in a polarised social environment which gives everyone a voice like South Africa's, other organisations have campaigned to defeat the user pay principle and divided society.

These voices have presented themselves as having the interests of the people at heart while their actions have pointed to the negative.

The democratic space opened up by the ANC government has unfortunately allowed these destructive forces to have an undeserved filter.

Be that as it may, Mr President, the ANC remains at the apex of ensuring that the people understand their pact with the government carrying out their civic responsibilities.

It is this pact that will ensure that the provision of services continues without hindrance and the poor and the well-off continue to enjoy the benefits of democracy.

Yours sincerely,

Pule Mabe

- Mabe is the ANC national spokesperson and head of the department of information and publicity.

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