Why, as a parent, I am voting on the 8th of May

As a parent I have been through too much as a country not to vote. I regard my mother as a rock star. The memories I have of her exude energy and passion. She was very political in her youth as she grew up under the apartheid system. She would always share stories with me of how she almost crossed the border going into exile.

I am 100% sure I inherited my personality from her. I was heavily involved in debate societies throughout my primary and high schooling. I had opinions about everything under the moon, and I was unapologetic about it.

My choice of study was a legal degree, but when those aspirations fell through, I chose a degree in politics. I got so many questions from people about why I decided to study political sciences. I heard that question so many times, that I even formed a generic response for it “why not politics”.

Do I regret my choice of study? Most definitely not! I got exposed to a world I never would have been able to access if I never studied this degree. I got to understand the complexities of our dark history as South Africans. I was now a politics graduate and now I knew that politics is purely a power play. That is the very definition of politics: any attempt to gain and keep power.

It is not so easy though in our country. Like I said, our past is dark and complicated. Prior to April 27th, 1994, a 27 year old black mommy blogger would not have the privilege of writing for a national publication without censorship. These are the small privileges that we are enjoying in our new SA.

Do you know how amazing it is to walk into a public place, and no one requests identification? I grew up in this world. And I clearly understand that it took years for us to get to this place. It took us 46 years to be exact. For 46 years, dark-skinned South Africans were marginalised. Our country was defined by political assassinations and bloodshed.

My Man Crush Monday, Steve Biko, died in prison because he fought to see black people enjoying the small pleasures of life.

It is so easy for young people to say they are not voting on 8 May. These are the same young people who have no idea how it feels like to be officially sidelined due to the color of your skin. I asked my 73-year-old aunt the other day if she would vote. Her response broke my heart. She responded with a passionate “Yes, we have been through too much as a country not to vote”. This is a woman that understands the power of the cross on the ballot paper. The power that I would never really get to understand.

Yes, people are angry and frustrated due to the socio-economic discrepancies that exist. Our unemployment rate is still sky high. Thousands are living in shacks with no water or electricity. Our streets are rotten. The crime rate makes me sick. My current situation does not mean I do not know or feel the frustrations of millions of disenfranchised South Africans.

But, our history is too complicated for us to say we are not voting.

Statistically, we need the numbers. It does not help the cause when millions of South Africans have not registered to vote. High voting numbers improve the legitimacy of the voting process.

Look at this way; by not voting, you are placing your fate, and that of your children, in the hands of another person.

The democratic system in SA allows for opposition to sit in parliament, playing the role of the watchdog. This means that the ruling party cannot make executive decisions without involving the opposition. Our votes are never discounted. We have the power to decide who will be representing our interests in parliament. There are 400 seats in the South African parliament. We have the power to choose who assumes those seats. The only way to do that is to place a cross next to a political party we identify with most.

I love my country and my daughter too much not to vote.
1) My country- I understand that democracy requires participation. My vote can ensure that this democracy is maintained.
2) My daughter – I need to lead by example and set a good example for her.

The South African constituency is more than 26.7 million people (current registered voters). It is important for political parties to know who they are accountable to. This needs to be the entire country. We cannot complain about service delivery if we did not think it important to cast our votes.

We have a responsibility as South Africans, as parents. That responsibility is to ensure that our democracy is maintained, and that our interests are represented.

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