THE struggle against apartheid was not about voting. Voting should be understood as just a tool (though very necessary) to keep our democracy intact.
Even though the ANC is correct in pointing out that South Africa is a better place than it was, some of the desired end results of the struggle have not been achieved. The land is still largely in the hands of the white minority, poverty still has a black face, privilege is very exclusive and the economy is in the hands of the minority, and to some extent in the hands of foreign capital investors.
I refuse to believe that Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, Solomon Mahlangu, Onkgopotse Tiro, Chris Hani and others died for this.
Political parties have gone all out in an attempt to convince the electorate to vote for them. While it’s natural in a multiparty democracy for political parties to compete for votes, they have to be careful of the kind of rhetoric they use when trying to convince and persuade voters.
Comments like “Vote because our democracy depends on it”, for example, are not true. Our democracy does not depend on voting, our democracy depends on the respect for the rule of law, respect for chapter 9 institutions like the public protector and respect for the citizenry by the executive by delivering on the mandate given by the people – that’s what should keep our democracy going.
So as we celebrate 20 years of democracy, let us do so paying attention to the fact that more than half of South Africa’s population still lives below the poverty line, that the majority of South African citizens, which are young by the way, are the most hard hit by unemployment, and are under-educated. Service delivery protests should serve as a reminder to those at the helm of power and those seeking to be voted in that voting once in every five years does not put food on the table, does not improve the quality of our education and certainly does not close the income gap.
Wandisile Sebezo, social activist, Kwano, Plettenberg Bay