By voting in the municipal elections on November 1, you will be protecting your rights as a citizen.
All citizens aged 18 and older have the right to vote. It is inscribed in the Bill of Rights in South Africa’s Constitution. But does voting really make a difference?
Prof Erwin Schwella, a political analyst and dean of the School of Social Innovation at Hugenote Kollege, says: “Voting makes you part of the decision making that affects your life and the future of our country. If you don’t vote, others will make the decisions for you.”
According to Schwella, voting is a way to keep councillors accountable. “Vote for them if they do good, and vote against them if they don’t do their work,” he says.
“Voting is thus not only a privilege, but also an obligation towards your country and yourself.” Some people refuse to vote in protest of the current state of politics, but Schwella says that argument does not make sense. “If you don’t vote, your vote does not count. If you don’t vote, you get the government you deserve. I encourage people to use their democratic power and vote.
“This also goes for spoilt ballots, which are counterproductive. Nobody really takes them seriously.”
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According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa, democracies with a low voter turnout are in danger of losing their freedom. In thriving democracies, people vote in large numbers and the people’s voices remain supreme.