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By Sydney Majoko


Not voting fails the country

A citizenry that yearns for change but is not willing to take the first step to ensuring that change happens will be stuck with the same government.

South Africans must brace themselves for change. That is inevitable. Hopefully it is good change, but before that change happens, democracy requires one thing from citizens: they must vote.

Polls continue to show that the level of apathy in the population is growing day-by-day. Out of 42 million possible voters, only 27 million are registered to vote.

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Trends indicate that up to 10 million of those registered voters will not go to the polling stations to cast their vote, less than half of those eligible to vote. Yet those 42 million are hoping for a miracle.

Democracy works in a funny way. It gives the population the kind of leadership it deserves.

A citizenry that yearns for change but is not willing to take the first step to ensuring that change happens will be stuck with the same government it has been stuck with for 30 years or more.

When the country is done voting in two days’ time and the results are declared, perhaps the weekend after next (barring any legal challenges) the winner(s) of the election will shout for all to hear “South Africa has spoken”.

But, in truth, only less than half of the country will have spoken. It is said that the reason most of the youth do not vote or even register to vote is because they are disillusioned with the government, politicians and how their vote doesn’t seem to make any difference in their lives.

And their not voting delivers a government they don’t want and it governs in a way that keeps them disillusioned. And the cycle continues.

The only way to deliver the change that the country needs is to take that first step, grab their ID cards and head to the polling station.

There is of course the rich but very painful history behind South Africa’s democracy. It is a history steeped in blood and sacrifice.

Luckily for South Africans, especially the youth, that history is very recent and they do not need centuries’-old history books to be reminded of how their right to vote was won.

The repositories of that history still walk among the youth. But the real motivation to go and vote must not come from being blackmailed with how the right to vote came about; it must come from the realisation that democracy works this way: those that do not partake will be governed by leaders they did not choose.

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The change that is coming South Africa’s way tomorrow is not going to be seismic and usher in a government that will perform miracles.

South Africa had its big miracle in 1994. The change that will come with this election is that win or lose, the ruling party cannot continue with business as usual.

There will be no arrogant slogans like “we will rule until Jesus’ return” like they used to say. The asinavalo (loosely, we have no fear that we can lose an election) crowd has been silenced by this change that is looming.

Until another system that promises to be better than democracy comes along, the best thing any citizen can do for their country and their generation is to go and vote.

It is not by mistake that South Africa had the “wasted nine years”, or that what is supposed to be the most mature democracy in the world had Donald Trump at the helm and may possibly have him again as president by the end of this year.

Despots and loose cannons ascend to the highest office in a democratic country because those that can stop them choose not to