Voting used to be a privilege. But now it’s a right. Do it

South Africa will be celebrating 25 years of freedom on Saturday – it’s been a quarter of a century since the country’s 1994 democratic elections took place.

Freedom Day will also mark 10 days before the country’s sixth national and provincial elections.

Besides the fact that voting was a privilege for a few before 1994, I personally had a two-year shortfall in terms of being an eligible voter and a form four (Grade 11) pupil at the Dr Moses Josiah Madiba High School in the Northern Province when the first democratic elections came around.

Growing up Mohlonong village in Ga-Mashashane, I found myself listening to a lot of Peter Tosh, Blondie Makhene, Amaqabane, the African Youth Band and Mbongeni Ngema.

This is an experience that might have something to do with me treasuring the right to vote.

A quote generally attributed to Joseph Stalin is: “People who cast the votes don’t decide an election, the people who count the votes do.”

I cannot help but reminiscence about the first time I cast a ballot at Meetseng Primary School, Block L in Soshanguve in the 1999 general elections.

This was during my time as a journalism student at the erstwhile Technikon Northern Gauteng.

As my folks back in the village will be exercising their civic right at my alma mater in Ward 40 of Polokwane municipality in the Limpopo Province, I will be visiting my polling station in Ward 39 of the same municipality.

The Independent Electoral Commission has also been hard at work through the #Xsê2019 campaign, encouraging people to visit polling stations on the 8th May.

Recent reports indicate that more than 26.5 million voters are eligible to cast their votes at the polls.

As some of the 26.5 million eligible voters grapple with the decision of voting or not voting, George Jean Nathan had this to say: “Bad officials are the ones elected by good citizens who do not vote.”

Voting is a right, make your choice.

• @MaleselaB is a public relations strategist and President of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (@1PRISA). He writes in his personal capacity.

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