26 April 2019

Freedom day and the right to vote


1917 voting stations

It is poetic that the national election date this year, 8 May, is a week and a half after Freedom Day which commemorates South Africa’s first free and fair election 25 years ago. The general election is coming amidst increasing dissatisfaction amongst voters for the political elite. There is a mixed feeling towards political parties due to a slew of corruption, a lack of service delivery. Looking at posters from the 1994 elections there are still undelivered such as adequate housing, access to infrastructure and adequate education.

There is an increasing push back by civil society organisations such as My Vote Counts to have great transparency in party funding. At this point only one party has revealed the source of its party funding and it was not the ANC, EFF or DA.

The National Voter trend has been that less and less registered voters are voting every year.  Of registered voters the number voting has decreased between 1999 and 2013 by 15% (from 89.3% to 73.5%) There is a global trend of voters not exercising their right to vote. The IEC is positive on the numbers of first-time voters in the region of 700 thousand new registered voters. Does this herald a change in the voting trend? Between 1999 and 2014 there was a 15% decline in voter turnout. Will this election follow this decline?

The goals of the freedom charter, which was adopted in 1995 by the ANC are still pending. Are we truly free or is it merely a new economic elite touting freedom? The disillusionment that comes with a financial depression and aggravated by years of corruption has been felt by all citizens. There were only 19 parties in 1994, in this upcoming election 48 parties will be on the ballot paper. Hopefully those who are registered will turn out at the voting station in order to show they have one right which they are able to participate in. 


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