Editorials 2.8.2016 07:10 am

Make your voice heard: vote

FILE PICTURE: People cast their vote. Picture: Neil McCartney

FILE PICTURE: People cast their vote. Picture: Neil McCartney

Yesterday marked the beginning of the most important event in any democracy: voting.

Local government elections kicked off as special votes were cast to accommodate people who would not get to their voting station on Wednesday.

Tomorrow, the rest of South Africa also has the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to determine who should lead their municipalities, the most important level of government. Promises, many of which are outlandish, have been sold to you.

A few of these are realistic, while the vast majority of these are just a ploy by politicians desperate for public office. It is not our business to tell you, the reader, which political party or independent candidate you should vote for.

However, we can only urge you to vote with your conscience and make sure that your vote works for you by choosing a candidate or party that you think will best cater to your interests. You need to think carefully about an individual and which party can make a real difference in your life and those of the people who matter to you.

While voting is a right, it is not a legal obligation, and an increasing numbers of eligible voters have in the past chosen not to exercise that right.

There are promising signs that things have changed. According to the IEC, there has been a huge interest in tomorrow’s election, judging by the record number of new voters and the record number of political parties and independent candidates who have registered to take part in the polls.

Tomorrow offers those South Africans who have been taking to the streets to violently protest against poor services to legally and constitutionally kick out those public representatives who have not honoured their promises.

Instead of burning schools, clinics and other public infrastructure to voice displeasure, disgruntled voters today have the power to change how their communities are governed to their benefit.

If you’re disillusioned with a party or independent candidate that you previously endorsed, logic dictates that you simply give your vote this time around to another party or independent candidate.

Torching facilities meant to deliver services to a community undermines the same community’s right to services, such as quality healthcare and young peoples’ right to basic education. Equally futile is abstention from voting as a weapon to fight non-delivering local government representatives.

By making that cross on the ballot paper tomorrow, you have a say in how a municipality should be governed. But if you don’t use the power of your vote, you have no say and can’t complain about not getting services from government. Let’s all go make our mark.

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