News / Opinion / Columns
In less than a week, South Africans head to the polls in probably one of the most unimaginative and uninspiring election seasons seen since the first democratic elections in ‘94.
The pandemic has not only led to limited campaigning activities but has also taken people’s interest away from the polls.
People cannot be blamed for their lacklustre response to anything political, it is to be expected given the little returns voting has given them over the years.
That doesn’t make the election any less important though. In fact, given the terrible state that municipal service delivery is in, these elections should be more fiercely contested than the national and provincial elections.
There is nothing glamorous about fixing potholes or ensuring that garbage gets collected, but those are the basics that those in government must get right for government to be seen to be working.
There are far too many negative events that have happened throughout this country this year that have left an impression in people’s minds that “government is failing”.
The lawlessness and looting spree that engulfed the country in July left many people in a state of mind that says the law enforcement and governance are not working and this election should be used to reassure people that things can work.
Political analysts and media houses are doing the most to predict which political party will come out tops in which areas and there is an eagerness in the opposition party camp to compound the problems of the ruling party.
But, in truth, it does not matter which party wins. What matters is that whoever gets to govern appreciates that their role right now is to get South Africa working as best as it can.
The little campaigning that has happened has just been so off the mark that voters know the promises made cannot in any way be fulfilled.
Any politician campaigning on providing jobs when the economy is shedding jobs due to the pandemic is taking voters for granted.
There will definitely be a huge temptation to millions of voters to stay home and enjoy their long weekend instead of making their way towards that election queue. But the truth is the voter who wants things to work but stays away from the poll is actually engaging in self-sabotage.
It is a fact that most municipalities are not working as well as they should right now, as is evidenced by the kind of infrastructural decay that has become entrenched in KwaZulu-Natal’s Msunduzi local municipality that runs Pietermaritzburg, among other areas.
The ruling party’s infighting spilled over into the governance of the municipality over a decade ago and since then, simple administrative tasks such as passing a budget have become herculean tasks.
The result? Failure of governance. And this evidenced on the streets of the town where residents point to potholes that have been there since 2017.
The municipality is collecting less money from ratepayers than it spends on services. In other words, it is a failed municipality.
The general exhortation about people having given their lives for people’s right to vote remains true. But now more than ever, people should not wait to be convinced to vote for sentimental reasons.
They must vote to show the politicians that they care more about their own country and its wellbeing than the politicians do.