“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying terrible wall which imprison men because they are different from other men.” – Lyndon B. Johnson, former United States President
As the free born generation we are confronted with complex choices with regards to the upcoming local government election. To neglect to vote is actually a vote of no confidence in the country we all dearly love.
It must be noted that while 1994 ushered in a new democratic dispensation, the lives of the majority of young people still reflect the social and economic contracts of apartheid. Our vote can still shape policy making that will aid the aspirations of the youth. We are a youth for a reason; we can and shall unashamedly demand a government we deserve. We need a government to take our country to new frontiers.
We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and be content at merely throwing shade on social media platforms about sub-standard service delivery by local government authorities. In this election young people are faced with two clear options: to either submit to bad governance or try to change our political and socio-economic circumstance.
The movements such as #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall were the stepping stones for South African youth. Young people are finding their identities and voices post 1994. The same spirit of activism must be sustained by actually voting to keep the spirit of our democracy alive.
Thabo Mbeki, then Deputy president of the Republic implored us to take cognizance of the role we have to play in building a more just country. “It must therefore be that those of us who inherited the results of the sacrifices of the youth of 1976 must remain loyal to the objectives of freedom, for which so many of our young people laid down their lives.”
As a youth privileged enough to witness the 40th anniversary of June 16, 1976 and the 60th anniversary of the women’s march against oppressive laws, great responsibility is laid upon us to go and vote and be a part of transforming our country and shaping our future.
Any youth that neglects partaking in the formation of its government does not deserve to voice their opinion when the course of youth is not advanced by those elected to positions of power. Our pride as young people must be borne of the knowledge that we are not mere spectators in the game of democracy, but actual participants whose voices are heard loud and clear.
Voting therefore is not a by the way matter, but must be high on our agenda as we continue building a socially responsible state.
Too much blood was spilt for us to be passive when it comes to taking responsibility to have a say in forming governments that will preside over us.
Too many lives were left in ruin for us to act as if elections don’t matter; they do matter.