A vote too crucial to waste

Voter given his ballot papers in Delft. Picture: Brendan Magaar

Voter given his ballot papers in Delft. Picture: Brendan Magaar

Published May 16, 2024


by Alex Tabisher

I cannot waste my God-given gift for language and writing trying to second-guess the outcome of the looming election. I am not a politician. I do not have a knowledge base from which to attempt even the most rudimentary of prognostications.

To me, the exercise is designed for a renewal or repeat of what South African citizens have lived through since the first free democratic election in 1994.

Everyone who is 18 years and older is legally empowered to vote. It is the one tool with which you can affirm your established place as an enfranchised citizen in the country of your birth.

A vote is not a weapon of attrition, revenge, or rejection. Your vote states very clearly your dissatisfaction with bad service or insincere exploitation of your privileges. The American politician James Otis during the Revolutionary era (1750–1783) stated quite unequivocally that “Taxation without representation is tyranny.”

I wish to offer a few basic truths, which could guide the voters in their choices. This week’s text is not an electioneering or vote-seeking agency.

For starters, South Africa is, by definition, a country that is black. Black. A spurious term which finds legitimation in the indefensible notion that skin colour is an element or factor in the equation. That we will always end up with a substantial proportion of our politicians coming from this artificial silo is no reason to conclude that the exercise only serves black people.

This is pure speculation that is not empirically defensible. Chinese people vote for improvement in China, as do Indians for the subcontinent. Peruvians vote in Peru. It does not take brain surgery to work out what I am suggesting.

If we can accept the above opinion regarding ethnicity, we can include the notion that people might just vote along lines of ethnicity. But no tax-paying voter should be afraid to vote for a candidate if the primary objective of getting bang for buck and a fair dispensation for everyone in our beautiful country drives our choices. That way, we can start by collectively formulating the commonality that binds us all in using this vote correctly.

It is a cruel vote, a crucial vote, a vote that will either effect change (but not just for the sake of change), but a collective voice saying: 30 years of messing around with our dearly bought freedom is not now, nor in the future, going to happen again in much the same way that Madiba eliminated the “k” word with incisive and decisive surgery.

Here are a few suggestions for serving the notion of “free and fair” elections. We should not accept the aspirations for a seat in Parliament of one who has committed an offence of any sort, or at least not until we are satisfied that the candidate has met the requirements of integrity, remorse for malfeasance, or provided testable evidence of good intent.We should also vote if the following imperatives can be built into the requirement for good governance: candidates should agree to a scrutiny or audit on a regular basis. The requirements for this request – which will guarantee transparency and eliminate the “power/ untouchable” myth that has protected the undesirable for 30 years – should include accessibility to the successful participants after the voting is over.

The voter, after walking away from making his mark on the ballot paper will know to abide by and accept whatever emerges. This is the responsibility factor of the election, the casting of the vote, the making and marking of responsible choice and the irrefutable longing for justice in our land.

In other words, the voter is more involved in his destiny in a direct way rather than having to wait for directionless commissions, deferred court cases and the blatant arrogance of politicians who know the game well enough to perpetuate, indeed, prolong, their illegal and reprehensible sojourn at the fiscal trough.

I offer these thoughts on the fragile faith that has sustained me through three decades of miserable governance and arrogant personal disregard for the position to which political candidates or parties aspire. When you are elected by free and fair choice, do not forget the promises you make and the expectations of the proles who return to the grunt and grind of daily life with renewed hope and expectation.

* Alex Tabisher.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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