When the power of our vote counts

Democracy in South Africa flourishes and reinforces our important role as activists to safeguard the future of South Africa

The year was 1994 on a sunny day on the 27th of April when the future of South Africa would be determined and indeed the sun would not have chosen a better day to set on that glorious day, South Africa would no longer be the same. Fast forward to the year 2017 we are reaping the rewards of the freedom that so many people sacrificed their lives and many other  people died for, their sacrifices made it possible for the millions of South Africans to appreciate the meaning of democracy in their lives.

The upcoming vote of no confidence to take place on the 8 August of 2017 to either keep or remove the sitting democratically elected President of South Africa Jacob Zuma will once again test the power of the vote. Ever since the watershed  27 April 1994 national elections and every successive 5 year term of the election period, our country has grown steadily and positively to embrace the importance of valuing the the hard won democratic right to vote. For some time it can be assumed that there has been a certain level of discontent by voters that there was no real value in voting, this displeasure as observed in previous times was visible in the passive nature of all sectors of society.

In recent times it has appeared that the civil society has found it’s voice and this has been illustrated in how communities of varying interests from the youth, business people, women and other sectors have come together keep politicians accountable. This genuine appeal to politicians by the civil society movements has led to many politicians in and outside their political parties to voice out their protestations for their counterparts to respect the voice of the public who voted them into government. Movements like the #FeesMustFall, #SaveSA, #CountryDuty which all were started by patriotic South Africans have in recent past illustrated to us what it means to hold elected politicians accountable. As activators we must indeed find inspiration in these movements that we are indeed on the right path in our journey to drive change in a positive way within our communities.

The upcoming vote of no confidence in the South African parliament will once again restore the dignity and prestige of the meaning of the vote in South Africa that when South Africans wake up every morning when elections are held to elect the government of their choice, they do not do so because it fashionable and have enough time to play instead the millions of South Africans who face the rainy, cold and at times sunny weather participate in the elections because they want to realise a stable and prosperous country. The notion that power lies with the people and through their vote they affirm their willingness to exercise this power responsibly, this fervent gesture must not be taken for granted by politicians. The period of elections in South Africa is another way to reflect back as a country on where we are and where we want to go. The parliamentarians who will be voting in the vote of no confidence in the President must have this reflection in their mind.

If anything is to be taken out of the recent activities by the social and civic movement, is that politicians will no longer take the trust the people place on them for granted. The sudden new found voice of the civil society which appears to be  organised and resourced with human and financial resources whose sole aim is to safeguard the democratic gains and build a better future have accepted that South Africa will never fall when they are still alive. The motion of no confidence has been debated before and previous motions did not have this huge public interest as the upcoming one is having.

Whichever way this motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma will go, one lesson that must be taken from this coming one is that South Africans in their majority have a sense of ownership and sense of influence in how the politicians they voted in power will vote. Democracy indeed flourishes when the power of our vote counts.

Themba Vryman is an Activator and writes in his personal capacity.




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