Tomorrow, we hold our fourth municipal elections under the 1996 constitution. And politically and socially, much has happened over the years.
We are no longer the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed nation on the verge of glory that we once were. Which is very sad, considering that our democracy has now come of age.
Twenty one years ago, most South Africans had high hopes for our future. We were the darling of the world, able to fraternise with all sovereign nations – even the ones who didn’t like each other.
For example, we were friendly with both Cuba and America, China and Taiwan, Britain and Ireland, Russia and the West, and we smiled alongside China, while welcoming the Dalai Lama onto our soil.
Those were the days when no nation dared to question our moral giants like Madiba and Desmond Tutu.
I think everyone believed that great things were about to happen. We understood that we had to be patient, but believed that in time, each and every citizen would live at least a decent life, with prospects and opportunities aplenty.
In the very least, abject poverty would be eliminated and every citizen would enjoy basic dignities like ablutions facilities. So what happened? Why has our hope and excitement been replaced by disillusionment and cynicism?
I recently attended the TEDx Table Mountain talks and got into an insightful conversation with a lecturer from Johannesburg University, who gave me an interesting statistic. She says in the last elections, more people abstained from voting compared to those who voted for the ANC. Think about that for a moment.
Millions of people were so disappointed by the ANC that they opted not to vote.
But they also couldn’t bring themselves to vote for another party, so they rather stayed home. And that’s because the ANC relies heavily on legacy and emotional attachment, instead of consistent delivery to secure votes.
I get a feeling we are going to see an even bigger apathy tomorrow – people who choose not to vote because they don’t see the point.
I know that our politicians no longer inspire us; they no longer act in a way that allows us to trust them, even just a little bit.
But by not voting, you are relinquishing your most important responsibility as a South African citizen.
Tomorrow you are voting for the most basic of service delivery; water and sanitation, potholes, parks, speed bumps, refuse collection, clean rivers, verge grass cutting, crime and grime and every other service that your local municipality is responsible for.
This means the individual representing your area will take responsibility for all those things around you.
And if they have been doing a good job, then excellent! But if you don’t even know who they are and have never seen them until the election posters went up recently, well then you know what to do.
We just need one collective moment where the people of South Africa show the politicians who actually has the power.
If we can just scare them enough and show them that their cushy jobs are not a lifetime guarantee of employment. They have to work honestly for it.
And if they don’t, then come the next elections, we will boot them out.
It doesn’t mean we can’t re-elect them next time. It will just mean that the next time, they will know exactly what is expected of them.
Polling stations open at 7am and closes at 7pm.
Before you start the braai and crack open the beer, go do your duty and show you care about this country of ours.
Because together we can reclaim the dream of greatness that we once had, one significant “X” at a time.