At the weekend, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) conducted a voter registration campaign throughout the country in an effort to get more citizens registered before the upcoming local government elections.
According to the IEC, at least 9 million South Africans eligible to vote are not registered. This is worrisome considering this number constitutes about 16% of the total population and an estimated 30% of the eligible voters.
One of the most fundamental rights denied to millions of citizens of South Africa under apartheid was the right to vote. Many people fought hard for all of us to elect a government of our choice. This liberty did not come cheap. The fight for the right to vote came at a price.
Thousands fought, bled and died for all South Africans to have that opportunity to determine who should lead them. That is why we should never take voting for granted. Our vote has a powerful impact on public policy and government.
It is of serious concern to hear many disgruntled community members threatening not to vote in protest against what they perceive as poor service delivery. Even during the voter registration weekend, law enforcement agencies had to be dispatched to some areas where mobs tried to disrupt the registration process.
This is the wrong way of seeking change. Instead of boycotting polls, citizens can fix what is wrong in their communities by voting out their public representatives who don’t keep their promises.
Voting is a powerful tool in the hands of citizens and it can make a meaningful difference in their lives. Violence and destruction of property, which have sadly become citizens’ methods of choice to raise their voices, are not only counterproductive and criminal, they also take away from the public purse resources that could have been channelled elsewhere to deliver services.
The municipal polls offer us yet another opportunity to come out in numbers to make changes. Your vote counts.