Picture: THE SUNDAY TIMES/ALAISTER RUSSELL
Picture: THE SUNDAY TIMES/ALAISTER RUSSELL

While Accountability Now is not aligned to any political party — on the contrary, we take pride in our independence and devotion to exacting accountability — we do receive queries concerning the exercise of the right to vote in the local government elections scheduled for November 1.

It remains vital to cast a vote in our young democracy. The right to vote is both hard won and the most basic accountability tool available to citizens who register to vote. All engaged and participative citizens, which should mean everybody, should make it their business to turn out on voting day to cast their votes.

The turnout at local government elections is traditionally notoriously low. Those who choose not to engage should know that they are spurning the legacy of those who died in the struggle for the franchise. Even a protest spoilt vote is better than absenteeism.

If you are prepared to vote more positively, do so with your head rather than your heart. Study the manifestos of the parties contending for your vote. Ensure that their anti-corruption stance is viable. Know that if serious corruption is not addressed urgently and proactively, this vote may be your last. And recognise that many of the problems facing SA today are traceable to the impunity of those who engage in the “corruption with no consequences” culture abroad in the land.

If the manifesto of the party of your choice is wanting on countering corruption, engage with it to secure improvements; political parties are particularly sensitive to what voters want during the pre-election period. Insist on accountability from those you support with your vote. It is your democratic right and a powerful tool in your hands, if used properly.

Be aware that our all-time low business confidence, the junk status of the rand, the high rate of joblessness are due, in large part, to new investment being scared off by corruption. Poverty, hunger and inequality are exacerbated by corruption. The unemployed and unemployable (now at record levels) are frustrated by their lot. Many acts of gender-based violence are traceable to anger and self-loathing being projected on others.

Service delivery and the rolling out of the rights guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights are stymied by corruption. As judge Navi Pillay put it, “corruption is a killer”. Make your vote count by casting it in favour of a party with a sound plan to eradicate corruption. Help those around you to understand that the grand theft of continued corruption and a better life for all are incompatible.

The missing ingredient is political will — perhaps yours.

Paul Hoffman, SC
Director, Accountability Now

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