JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
THE Constitutional Court’s decision to dismiss the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s application for the postponement of this year’s local government elections last week, was significant. The Court’s ruling is something South Africans should be proud about because it reminds us that our judiciary remains largely independent.
The IEC’s application marred the image of the organization and hurt its credibility. This is an institution that is supposed to put the interests of our democracy first – not politics.
To use the COVID19 pandemic as an excuse to postpone the election was ill-conceived by the IEC. We are a nation that is better-resourced than other Sub-Saharan African countries. We should be able to hold elections in this time of a pandemic.
Zambia, a poorer country, held its national elections recently. The winner of those elections was Hakainde Hichilema, who is widely seen as a reformer. Whether he is indeed a reformer, will reflect on his actions as President of Zambia.
With the municipal elections now going ahead, the burden is now on us the citizens to make the use of the opportunity to change the state of our communities with our vote.
Like previous elections, the issues are clear this year, and they all have to do with service delivery. Most people are unhappy with the service delivery in their communities – power outages, crime, potholes, out of order traffic lights.
As somebody who works and lives in South Africa’s richest province, Gauteng, I am always astonished by the ubiquity of potholes around Johannesburg. The worst potholes I have seen in a town in Gauteng are in Vereeniging. At one point in Vereeniging, my car was severely damaged by potholes and had to be towed back to Johannesburg north – which was very unpleasant.
We have the power to make things better with our vote in the upcoming local elections. When I was doing research for my upcoming book recently, I bumped into one of Thomas Sowell’s articles in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). In that article, Sowell writes that the voter is the most important player in a democracy. Important because it is the voter that elects the people who govern. A democracy with ignorant, foolish voters is doomed!
South Africans have had six national elections since 1994. With all these elections, they had the opportunity to bring rapid economic development changes in the country. Where there has been miniscule progress on economic development and governance, South Africans must look in the mirror they’ll see what’s gone wrong.
What I have found heart-breaking, is that there are still people who believe they must vote for the African National Congress (ANC) because it is a party that understands black people. How does one characterize the ANC as understanding black people when it governs over massive corruption, violent crime and joblessness?
Since the ANC took power in 1994, the unemployment rate has risen. The party has been a disgraceful failure that must be dislodged from power.
When Cyril Ramaphosa became President of this country in 2018, I thought the country would see sweeping transformation that would embrace pro-market economic reforms. To this day, I have seen very little. Our municipalities are a total mess and owe billions of rands to the electricity supplier Eskom.
Fortunately, we live in a multi-party democratic system, and the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has experience in governance. According to the facts, the DA municipalities are better run than the ANC’s. Now, whenever I highlight this, some people say that they saw a community with poor service delivery run by the DA. But that is anecdotal – it’s not the bulk of evidence. What matters is the bulk of evidence, as famed Professor Jordan B. Peterson once said. So, we must seriously consider the DA in the upcoming municipal elections.
Action South Africa (Action SA) headed by Herman Mashaba also deserves a vote. Mashaba is sensible on how the economy ought to function – and what the fundamental issues are in the country. Mashaba is pro-market, understands that the BEE scam has not produced desired results in post-1994 South Africa. He believes in well-managed, strong borders.
The far left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is a total disgrace; that party must never ever govern anywhere in the country.
A bigger turnout will be crucial as we build up to the national elections in 2024. The people who choose to stay at home and not vote let the country down. It is unfortunate that most adult people choose to stay at home and not vote. In the 2019 national elections, 18 million eligible voters chose not to vote. This was greater than the number of people who voted for the ANC. If you choose not to vote, you let people govern you without your say. Remember your vote is your voice.
Democracy is an imperfect system – it has its flaws. It has produced despots in many parts of the world. But at least the idea with democracy is that every citizen can shape the direction of their country with their vote. Both the rich and the poor can vote. Those in power who mismanage the economy and spread corruption can be removed.
Much of South Africa’s socio economic challenges can be blamed on domestic decision-making. In other words, we are where we are because of our own doing as citizens and voters.
It is time we make our municipalities better. Please, register and vote! PM
First published on Politicsweb.co.za.
© PHUMLANI M. MAJOZI