The last chance to register to vote before the general elections, which are expected to take place in May, is this coming Saturday and Sunday.
These elections are especially important because this year will also mark the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy.
This time prompts citizens to reflect on the government’s accomplishments and shortcomings over the past three decades. It is these reflections that should guide people’s voting choices.
The 2024 elections will be highly contested, and some polls are projecting that the ANC will fall below 50%, potentially leading to a coalition government in the national and provincial governments.
Coalition governments have been chaotic in the municipalities, resulting in a lack of service delivery and general dysfunctionality. The possibility of a coalition government at the national and provincial levels causes apprehension.
Lawlessness is on the rise
The rising lawlessness, crime, corruption, and levels of unemployment necessitate that the country take a different direction.
The 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index paints a negative picture about South Africa’s progress in dealing with public sector corruption.
The report, which measures perceptions of corruption in 180 countries, has placed South Africa on 41 points among flawed democracies. Although perceptions may differ from actual reality, they should not be taken lightly.
Despite these challenges, the ruling party asserts its commitment to renewal, acknowledging internal struggles that have impeded governance and fostered corruption.
The nation requires a transformative shift characterised by leaders who will prioritise the welfare of the people and who will be accountable for their decisions.
We need a new political culture that will be defined by honesty, compassion, and a passion to serve the country.
With over 300 political parties that have registered with the Independent Electoral Commission, we need to scrutinise the calibre of the candidates that will be presented to us.
Manifestos must be interrogated
We need to interrogate the manifestos of these political parties and the practicality and feasibility of the promises they make.
This is the time to reject those who we know are crooks and lack the ability to build a South Africa that is equal, unified, and corruption-free.
Reflecting on the recent murder of a Rand Water executive and his bodyguard at a back-to-school event at Zakariyya Park, where a large number of young people were present, municipalities that are dysfunctional and unable to serve residents effectively, and past tragedies such as the Life Esidimeni tragedy, the Marikana Massacre, and state capture compels voters to question if this is the South Africa they aspire to.
While the future remains uncertain, the present, characterised by several challenges, is not ideal for nation-building. It is the duty of every citizen to exercise their right to vote to influence the country’s direction.
As we prepare to register to vote this weekend, all citizens, in particular young people, must reflect honestly about the state of the country and how the future should be.
These elections are an opportunity to shape the future. Register to vote!
Zusipe Batyi is a communications manager at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. He writes in his personal capacity.