Go and vote and let South Africa win 

Dear Sunday World reader, if you thought that voting this coming Wednesday is all fanfare and much ado about nothing, try – living in a country that hasn’t held elections in a long time. 

Equatorial Guinea, a small country in Central Africa, has not had elections since 2002. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has ruled the country since 1979, and has been criticised for human rights abuses and for his authoritarian rule. 

Turkmenistan in Central Asia, is another authoritarian regime that has not held elections in a long time. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has ruled since 2006, and has faced criticism for his repressive policies and lack of democratic freedoms. 

Belarus, a country in Eastern Europe, has not held elections since 2010. Alexander Lukashenko has ruled since 1994. He has been criticised for his authoritarian rule and restrictions on political rights and civil liberties. 

Of course, the absence of elections in some of these countries does not necessarily mean that they are not democratic or lack political representation. However, the absence of regular elections can indicate a lack of transparency and accountability.  

Compare that to South Africa, which has had four presidents – technically five – in the space of 30 years, each bringing their own unique leadership style and approach to governing.  

Nelson Mandela (1994–1999) established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to shed light on past injustices and promote healing. Thabo Mbeki (1999–2008) prioritised economic growth and infrastructure development during his tenure.  

Kgalema Motlanthe (2008–2009) served as president of South Africa for a brief period between Thabo Mbeki’s resignation and Jacob Zuma’s election. His presidency was characterised by a commitment to stability and unity.  

Zuma (2009–2018) was the longest-serving president in South Africa’s democratic history. His administration made efforts to tackle issues such as poverty and inequality. 

A renewed focus on governance and anti-corruption efforts has marked the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa (2018–present). He has introduced several reforms to strengthen institutions and promote transparency. 

Now, back to you, dear reader.  

This Wednesday, as you consider whether your vote will actually change the course of history, remember this: elections are what separate us from the nations that haven’t seen a voting booth in decades. 

Your vote is about the country’s future political direction. Elections are a crucial aspect of any democratic system, as they allow citizens to express their opinions and choose a leader who represents their interests.  

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) promised on Wednesday that like in the past, there will be no hiccups. The commission has sworn on a stack of manifestos that this election will be as smooth as a well-oiled machine.  

Chairperson Mosotho Moepya assures us that transparency is the name of the game. He said the IEC had been around for three dizzying decades, supporting the nation’s steadfast, if occasionally bewildering, dedication to democratic principles.  

“Each voting station result undergoes rigorous audit authentication before being posted, ensuring accuracy and accountability.” 

Local observers, diplomatic corps members, and the media will swarm voting stations to ensure that not a single ballot goes uncounted.  

“The acceptability of election results to all contestants is paramount, and we spare no effort in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process,” Moepya said. 

So, there you have it. A call to arms. Get out there, mark your X, and let’s show the world that South Africa continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Your vote is not just a tick on a piece of paper; it’s a tiny, yet vital, cog in the great machine of democracy.  

It is now all systems go. Let South Africa win. Now go vote. But if you don’t, just remember that somewhere in Equatorial Guinea, a ballot box collects dust from sheer neglect. 


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