The right to vote is only the “seed” of our democracy, and a means to an end.
To sustain our hard won freedom by building our democracy, building block by building block, is perhaps a greater struggle than the hard-won freedom and liberation itself.
The announcement of local government elections on 3 August are a call from the African National Congress (ANC) government to citizens to play an active part in our communities in the place we feel the impact most … in our homes, in our communities and in the places we work and live every day.
South Africa has one of the most celebrated Constitutions in the world. It is up to us to ensure that we are actively involved in voting and electing leaders who are chosen by the people and are for the people.
Local government is where the Constitutionally guaranteed right to vote translates to action at a grassroots and community level.
For 22-years the ANC has delivered and protected the right of every South African to vote. This has been achieved through ensuring successive free and fair elections managed by the country’s Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).
Further, in the past 22-years the ANC government has scaled up service delivery to ensure that all communities have access to basic services and an improved quality of life.
To emphasize the role and participation of every South African in forming part of the local government and in building greater communities for all, the ANC has developed the ‘Sishoda Ngawe’ hashtag to drive the key message that the actions of each and every South African count.
“Sishoda Ngawe” is a call to South Africans from the ANC to exercise the very founding principles that have continued drive the country forward.
Last weekend’s voter registration drive was a spectacular success. According to IEC figures approximately three million South Africans visited voter registration centers around the country during the first voter registration drive for 2016. This was double the number recorded in a similar drive in 2011 and set a new record. What was particularly heartening was that there were 693 000 new registrations, and of this, approximately 79 per cent were under the age of 30. The final figures for last week’s voter registration drive are due to be released later this week.
In coming out in their numbers, South Africans, and young South Africans in particular, are reaffirming their confidence in the ballot as a means to create the type of society they envisage. They are rejecting the narrative of a ‘dissafected electorate’ that does not care how the country is run.
Today’s youth have shown they are prepared to take an active role in safeguarding democracy in South Africa: following in the footsteps of the youth of 1976 who took to the streets of Soweto to protest against unjust laws.
The sacrifices of the pioneers of 1976 paved the way for a democratic dispensation wherein all the country’s citizens enjoy freedom.
The current generation, especially young people who were born after 1994 and are able to cast their votes for the fist time in this election: hold this democracy in trust for future generations. It is encumbent on them to exercize responsible citizenship: mindful of the reality that to effect real change, they need to take an active part in the way this country is being run on their behalf.
By turning up in their numbers to voter registration stations, South Africans are showing that they have not lost faith in the integrity of the electoral process. And more importantly, that they see the power of their vote to effect change.
In the weeks leading up to voter registration weekend, the ANC adopted the phrase “Sishoda Ngawe” to remind all South Africans that their vote counts: and that we need each and every South African to help us make South Africa a better place.
“Sishoda Ngawe” is also a call to South Africans to join us as the governing party in being instruments for change.
As we launch the party’s Election Manifesto at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today, we have moved to the hashtag “NdimLo” – a call to action for all South Africans to join us.
The ANC is the only political home for South Africans committed to social justice, and the constitutional principles of equality and non-discrimination and is open to all South Africans who accept its principles, policies and programmes geared to alleviating political and economic oppression.
At a time when the South African economy and the global economy in general has come under increasing strain, we are faced with the task of building a better South Africa all the while dealing with significant challenges of poverty, inequality, unemployment and skewed development.
The ANC government is mindful of the great responsibility we shoulder as the governing party to ensure the delivery of services for our people. We are able to make our country better if we work with all South Africans who are prepared to do their part.
It is also imperative to remember that South Africa’s democracy was not only paved in blood and sacrifice but also on the pillars of forgiveness and reconciliation. As such the ANC continues to be a political home for South Africans committed to social justice, and the constitutional principles of equality and non-discrimination.
With the municipal elections slated for August this year, we as the ANC call on all like-minded South Africans to work with government in realizing a Better Life for All.
CDE JESSIE DUARTE IS ANC DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL