Freedom is having a choice, but what will we do with it..?
Tomorrow, our country commemorates Freedom Day, which marks the emancipation of our country and its people. On this day, in 1994, our country held its first democratic elections, following a lifelong struggle for many to obtain the freedoms long regarded as inherent to all human beings. As we celebrate this historic day, let us remind ourselves that each one of us has a responsibility to exercise the right to vote, and all it entails, in a manner that will give it significance – to make it into a valuable right, rather than a wasted right.
Everyone has the right to vote
It is your Constitutional right to vote. Our Constitution guarantees in section 19 (2) & (3) that “every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution. It also states that, “every adult citizen has the right to vote in elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution, and to do so in secret.”
2016 Municipal elections
Municipal elections are held every five years, to elect members of council who will be responsible for governing the various municipalities for the next five years. The members serve on the town, city, metropolitan or district councils to ensure that the daily needs of the citizens such as water, electricity and sanitation are met. This year, the municipal elections will be held on 3 August 2016.
Your address: A matter to redress?
There are currently 7.9 million voters without addresses and another 8 million voters with incomplete addresses (view the article here). It is at this stage undecided whether these voters will be allowed to cast their vote on August 3rd. Their fate will be decided on 9 May 2016 in the Constitutional Court. (Click here to view the article.)
For months the debate on the address saga has raged from all corners. (View the article here.) Will these voters be “disenfranchised”? In a democracy? The IEC’s Chief Electoral officer, Mosotho Moepya, said in the Sunday Times column, “So many Questions” (17 April 2016) that whatever judgment the Constitutional Court makes, will have to be complied with, “even if it means disenfranchising ‘more than 10m’ voters” (view the article here). But the reality is that there is no requirement in the Constitution whereby one must have a physical address to be able to register to vote. The outcome of the hearing is of great concern, as those affected by it could end up being denied “a free and fair election”.
Make your vote count
With the 2016 Municipal elections around the corner, CFJ urges every citizen to cast his/her vote wisely, to consider the consequences before making your mark. There is a price to freedom. And it must therefore be exercised responsibly. The price/reward of the freedom to vote is that we get exactly what we choose. Therefore, choose wisely!