Don’t squander ‘hard-won right’ to vote

Staff Writer | May 01, 2019
The F W de Klerk Foundation urges voters to turn out and have their say in determining the country’s future.

The hard-fought right to vote “is enshrined in our Constitution and should therefore not be taken for granted or exercised lightly”, the F W de Klerk Foundation has said in a statement.

“Before 1994, millions of South Africans did not have the right to vote, and even today, there are still more than two billion people throughout the world who do not have a meaningful vote,” the statement said.   

“Our right to vote gives us a say in the country’s future.”

A “concerted effort” was needed to “reach out to undecided, marginalised or apathetic voters” and prevent the risk of their becoming “permanently disengaged from the political process”.

The Foundation was established by former President F W de Klerk, the National Party leader who, in 1990, led the South African government in unbanning the liberation movements and releasing Nelson Mandela, which led to the negotiated settlement of 1993 and the transition to democracy in 1994. 

The Foundation urged “all South Africans to celebrate our constitutional democracy on 8 May. Turn out at your local voting station, cast your vote, embrace the fact that you are able to vote – and do so responsibly”.

It added: “In a constitutional democracy such as ours, the right to vote gives eligible South Africans a co-responsibility to determine our shared future. Without a good voter turn-out, the mandate of our future leaders will be diluted. If we do not vote, we will not have representatives to keep our elected leaders accountable.”

Acknowledging that “many voters may be dissatisfied with political parties and disillusioned with the direction our democracy has moved in (over) the last nine years”, the Foundation urged “all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote”.  

“Let us not squander that hard-won right by staying away from the polls on 8 May.”

The Foundation also noted that, while it held the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in “high regard”, it was “concerned about a possible lack of capacity to manage an election in which a record 48 political parties will participate”. 

“We therefore urge the IEC to ensure that the necessary capacity is in place and, if needed, that the State provides the monetary resources (even at this late stage) to achieve this. As citizens, we believe it is important to support the IEC in its efforts to conduct a free and fair election.”

 

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