I don’t vote during elections, nor do I loot private businesses, burn schools destroy clinics and kill foreigners during demonstrations. I’m just a citizen who believes in the freedom to choose which democratic right to exercise at a particular time.
I don’t have to stain my nails to show that I’m a patriot nor do I have to drape myself in colours of any political party to be a citizen while justice and morals suffocate to extinction. However, with all that being said, I might sound ungrateful for the liberation movement, ordinary South Africans, liberals and the international community who afforded me one of many democratic rights – a vote. I’m not promoting apathy but I’m against those who coerce, intimidate, blackmail and manipulate the masses to advance their political aspirations while playing god on my emotions. As if those like me – who choose to do gardening instead of going to the polls – have forfeited their citizenships. They manipulate the masses by portraying voting as an obligation, and fallaciously promoting voting as the only supreme democratic right. However I’m aware that voting is not the only tool to exercise my democratic right and influence justice.
There are many other meaningful ways, like: public demonstrations, petitions, joining/forming an NPO, actively participating in uplifting community activities etc.
Before deciding on a particular mode of participation, one should weigh the political environment against his/her beliefs, for participating in any democratic activity is an expression of self and beliefs. For an example, imagine a Christian who votes in a political environment that endorses abortion, is that not hypocrisy of the highest order? Your vote has power as a statement.
Maybe it’s time our masses are conscientised on how to play a meaningful role in their democracy, how to vote right and why one should vote. Instead of manipulating the situation by reminding the masses of the dark days of oppression. Until then, we remain canon fodders in the ruthless arsenal of corruption, self enrichment, low morals, injustice and inequality -to mention but a few- that destroys the same majority of voters, the poorest of the poor.
Kofi Annan once said, “Democracy is not just about one day in every four or five years when elections are held, but a system of government that respects the separation of powers, fundamental freedoms like the freedom of thought, religion, expression, association and assembly and the rule of law … Any regime that rides roughshod on these principles loses its democratic legitimacy, regardless of whether it initially won an election.”
I choose to Vote for who is worthy of my vote and if there is none, it is no sin to abstain and explore other democratic channels where I can make a meaningful contribution in our beloved country.
Unathi, a concerned citizen.
Photo credit: Traveller24