By Koketso Marishane
On the 28th October 2021, the Marishane Youth Development Forum convened the first ever political dialogue in the community where all political formations in the community contesting for the leadership space in the local municipal council were given platform for expression for public buy-in prior local government elections. The event attracted approximately 50 people comprising of young and old community members.
The dialogue was premised on the background that although the youth make up the majority of the population in the community and the country, very few have registered to vote. In the inverse, according to the South African Police Service (SAPS) Incident Registration Information System (IRIS), approximately 1000 protest actions occurred from the 1st August 2020 to 30 July 2021 – 700 of these protests were service delivery related, and local government is precisely most important based on this.
In the same vein, we have noted the rising concern that municipalities across the country are not run effectively. This is in light of the recent consolidated general report on the local government audit outcomes for the 2019/2020 financial year. Auditor General of South Africa Tsakani Maluleke reported that “almost half of the municipalities in South Africa are exhibiting indicators of financial strain, including low debt recovery, an inability to pay creditors and operating deficits.”
Although there are a myriad challenges facing rural communities in South Africa most specifically our community of Marishane, we cannot however, ignore the critical role local government plays in the day-to-day running of the communities. We thus ask the questions: Why should people vote for the party you represent or you as an independent? Ward councilor candidates from different political parties and independent were given the platform to sell themselves three days prior elections, which would determine who governs the ward for the next five (5) years.
The dialogue, robust and intellectually stimulating as it was, from 4pm-6pm at the Marishane Tribal Office, afforded the community members the chance to tap into the thinking cap of prospective ward candidates to make informed decisions about the voting choice in the next three days whilst political parties increased their visibility in the community.
The dialogue was blessed by the presence of Traditional Councilor Mr. Morwamokotle Masemola from the Moroangoato Traditional Council in Ga-Marishane for the recognition, acknowledgement and blessings; Reverend Komane Bapela from the Marishane Council of Churches for the prayers, Advocate Temosho Sebesho from Lemapo Feela VW Crew for the motivational message of support, the political ward 26 councilor in Makhuduthamaga Local Municipality Ms. Merah Mahlase for the governance submission, party political candidates (ANC, EFF, DA, DAP, SAMEBA, etc) for their presentations and the community members for their participating and representative audience in a democratic process.
The Marishane Youth Development Forum is of the view that, the profound lesson of the past 25+ years of democracy is that the process of building cannot be a spontaneous activity. The new edifice has to be created, brick by brick, by a corporation of builders of which young professionals are an indispensable part. A critical element in all this is the issue of partnerships- a social compact among all South Africans. This requires clarity about vision and objective- transformational mindsets characterized by the ability, the imagination to transcend the present and live the future by practically constructing it daily.
The dialogue was supported by ACTIVATE! Change Drivers in South Africa.