Practising responsible citizenry

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Five months into 2024, and many a thing has happened, requiring us to sit down and catch our collective breath.

In the last five months, the country commemorated Human Rights and Freedom Months, experienced tragedy with the recent shooting of a five-year-old boy in a hijacking in Soshanguve as well as a deadly bus crash over the Easter holiday period. 

Recently, the country was also on tenterhooks following the Victoria Street multi-storey George building collapse in the Western Cape, which claimed at least 33 lives.

Just as self-care Sundays are necessary to keep one’s wits about oneself, we need to do the same for our beloved country.

That oh so necessary routine of taking care of one’s skin, hair and reflecting on the week that was, accompanied by a delicious, nourishing meal, is the same kind of nurturing we ought to provide for the country on the southernmost tip of the African continent.

Reflection is a powerful tool that one can use to take stock of the goings-on in one’s life and with the country’s upcoming 2024 National and Provincial Elections, it is a tool that we can use to move the country forward.

The beautiful thing about reflection is that while it can bring back painful memories of the past which was dominated by segregation brought about by the then apartheid regime, it also affords the country time to reflect on pockets of excellence, including the provision of housing; equal education and social grants to assist the less fortunate in our country. 

While government has provided clean water, sanitation and continues to provide electricity - and yes, it is intermittent at the best of times - it has not swept the challenges under the rug.

With us approaching the half-year mark – yes can you believe it? - we can start the second part of our journey across the sun having taken action that will guide the future direction of our country.

As responsible citizens who despite our country’s challenges of unemployment, crime and gender-based violence, among others, we have to cast our votes in South Africa’s seventh democratic elections on 29 May 2024.

And as responsible citizens, entrusted with the right to vote through the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, we ought to exercise that right.

Section 19 (3) of the Bill of Rights makes provision to vote in elections and to do so in secret, while also allowing adult citizens to stand for public office and, if elected, to hold office.

This is probably the best and most important self-care routine we cannot afford to miss as a country.

And while others may still be undecided as to who to vote for, the hourglass has not run out of sand yet. You can still make up your mind on who to vote for.

This year’s elections are believed to be the most contested in our history as a democratic dispensation and you don’t want to suffer from a bout of the FOMO (fear of missing out) post the elections that will see the participation of independent candidates for the very first time.

Voting is not a pointless exercise. Many died for the privilege we enjoy today. Additionally, the World Economic Forum reported that 2024 is a historic election with elections being held in 50 countries around the world, including the United States.

Naysayers may say that project democracy has failed. In his Freedom Day speech commemorating 30 years of South Africa’s freedom and democracy, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that our democracy is young, highlighting that “most of the world’s most established democracies are over a hundred years old.”

Nobody can say that democracy is perfect at 100 years old, no more so than at 30 years. What we’ve seen over the last three decades as citizens is the growth of a nation that is not without its faults.

We all have faults and what matters most is that we still have the ability to recalibrate and make the necessary changes.

While there are many important issues that rile us up, including crime and corruption, that may fuel voter apathy, we cannot give up on our country.

At a recent District Development Model Presidential Imbizo in the Northern Cape, the President called on citizens not to throw in the towel as government is committed to delivering services and addressing challenges.

“We don’t want you, our people, to lose hope,” he said.

We should not underestimate the power of a single vote if all 27.79 million of the country’s registered voters make their voices heard as we go to the polls on 29 May 2024.  It’s a date.

Neo Semono is a Features Editor at