Unite for free, fair and peaceful elections - President Ramaphosa

Monday, May 27, 2024

President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in his weekly newsletter, called on South Africans to unite for free, fair and peaceful elections.

The National and Provincial Elections are expected to be held on Wednesday with voting stations opening at 7am and closing at 9pm.

Some 27 million eligible South Africans have been registered to vote in this year’s elections.

“Holding free, fair and peaceful elections is a barometer of the good health of our democracy. As we cast our votes on Wednesday, let us, in the words of our Constitution, 'honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land, respect those who have worked to build and develop our country, and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity'.”

“Let us hold another election that is peaceful, that is free, that is fair and that is a credit to all the elections we have held since 1994. Let it be that the ultimate winner of this election is South Africa, our democracy, and you, the South African people,” President Ramaphosa said.

The President highlighted that since the dawn of democracy, elections have been held “without major incident” and expressed confidence that this year’s elections will also take place in the same vein.

“Once again, we have every confidence that this election will take place under conditions of peace, safety and tolerance, and that it will be free and fair.

“The integrity of our elections is testament to the high regard in which South Africans hold their hard-won right to vote. It is an affirmation that no matter what our political differences are, when it comes to safeguarding our democracy, we are prepared to put these differences aside for the common good,” President Ramaphosa said.

A look back

President Ramaphosa recalled how South Africa “was on the brink” on the eve of the first democratic elections in 1994 with “state-sponsored violence and the threat of a right-wing insurrection” contributing to a “sense of fear and uncertainty”.

“One newspaper carried a story at the time titled “South Africa hoarding as fear rises”. It described long supermarket queues of people stocking up on tinned foods, a rush to attend emigration seminars, panicked currency exchanges, and fearful callers to radio stations about sabotage of power plants and water supplies.

“We recall the courage of the political leadership at the time and their efforts to quell tensions. We recall the role of the leadership of the Inkatha Freedom Party, the African National Congress and the National Party in signing a memorandum of agreement for reconciliation and peace just three days before the election.

“We recall these events to remind ourselves of what is required of us all as we head to the polls on Wednesday. We are required to continue to honour the sacrifices of our forebears by exercising their right to vote and to do so peacefully. We are required to respect the rights of others regardless of who they are voting for, and regardless of whether they are voting or not,” he said.

Despite all the doomsday fears at that time, the President said, “none of these fears materialised”.

“As South Africans we have rejected the politics of fear time and again, and we will continue to do so.

“For the past thirty years we have chosen the path of peace over violence, of reconciliation over hate, and of unity over divisions of race, ethnicity or tribe. The stability and integrity of our electoral system bears witness to this,” President Ramaphosa said. – SAnews.gov.za