Elections showed our democracy is vibrant

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

South Africa has much to celebrate after the peaceful national and provincial elections. Regular, credible and peaceful elections have come to define the essence of our nation. These elections are yet another milestone on our 20 Years of Freedom journey and an indication of the maturity of our democracy. 

What made this year’s elections such a success was the fact that South Africans came out in their millions to exercise their democratic right. Government expresses a special word of thanks to each and every voter for the dignified manner in which they participated in the process.

The large voter turn-out is a signal to the world that our democracy remains strong and vibrant. It also shows that South Africans believe in the future of the country and want to have a say in the course it takes.

The elections also saw South Africans born into a free country vote for the first time. The young voters made up about 2.5 percent of the 25 million registered voters.  It was heart-warming to see the enthusiastic manner in which they participated in their first elections. The voices of our future were brought to life in the passion espoused by young voters on social networks.  

Proud to make her voice heard, Tasmia Jansen tweeted: “I voted for the first time. Such a good feeling to know that I'm making my voice heard.”

Lungelo Angelo Grey tweeted: “So emotional about voting, because so many people died to ensure that you and I could vote.”  

These positive sentiments were magnified a thousand times over and show the youth’s commitment to our democracy and the future of the country.  

We convey our gratitude to the thousands of proudly South Africans living abroad who voted at our 116 missions on April 30.  

The elections have conclusively shown that our electoral system is intact. The limited hiccups noted were quickly resolved and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) once again proved its efficiency in organising one of the biggest events in the country. Where there were reports of misplaced ballots and other anomalies, the IEC responded swiftly and decisively. We are convinced that these incidents in no way undermined the overall success, efficiency and credibility of the elections.

IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya said two years of hard work had paid off. “I’m honoured and I’m humbled by how this nation has reacted to the work that we have done. It’s been a very tough election - the most contested since 1994. South Africa has reacted very well; our people have not disappointed us,” he said.

Government also congratulates public servants who worked largely unnoticed behind the scenes. Home Affairs officials deserve a special mention for working extended hours to ensure citizens had temporary IDs, smart ID cards and green bar-coded IDs to enable them to vote. The Batho Pele principal of putting people first was truly visible.

Security agencies, under the leadership of the National Joints Operational and Intelligence Structure again did a sterling job in creating a safe and secure voting environment. The few isolated incidents that occurred were dealt with swiftly to ensure voting could proceed peacefully.

As we continue to bathe in the glow of the fifth democratic elections, we should recognise that democracy was the true winner on 7 May. The elections united us in our love for the country.  

We should carry this feeling of patriotism throughout the next five years. A strong, working democracy requires its citizens to take an active, constructive interest in the running of the country.  We all have a role to play to ensure our democracy remains strong by making our voices heard at public hearings and through commenting on green papers and policy papers. Importantly, election of leaders continues through regular ward committee meetings.

All South Africans also have a role to play to ensure that by 2030 we would have dealt with poverty, inequality and unemployment. To accomplish this, a collective effort by all sectors of society is required to implement the National Development Plan (NDP) so that we can deal with the remainder of our challenges.  

This year’s General Elections have shown again that our democracy is vibrant with active citizenry.  Let us maintain the momentum over the next five years and keep on building on our success story by working together to implement the NDP.

Phumla Williams is Acting CEO of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)


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