Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Made my "x" and damn proud of it!


Made my "x" and damn proud of it!
7 May 2014

Voting is an honour and a privilege.  And most definitely a right.

A right hard fought for.  One that I’m very aware of.  And that I don’t take for granted. 

Each and every time I’ve gone to vote, the significance of the whole voting process has struck me afresh. 

The fact that not everyone in the world is afforded this same opportunity.  The fact that many have suffered because of the fight to vote.  And that even more have suffered because many have not been allowed to vote in the past.

I am white.  And I am a woman.  And thus I am allowed to vote.  The white thing has always counted in my favour with voting.  But as for the woman thing?  Not always so much.  Many, many years ago, women had to demand for equal rights to cast their ballots.  To make their tick.  South African women were first allowed to vote in 1930.  Just a short while ago.  And still to this day, crazy as it may seem, some women in different parts of the world are not allowed to vote.

I am an eternal optimist.  And I firmly believe, that even though my little “x” is just one little “x”, it still holds value.  It plays a role.  It has significance.

It allows me the freedom, to express my view.  To make my demand.  To ensure that the collective voice of the people is heard. 

But it does not just allow me that.  It also gives me the right to express my dissatisfaction or satisfaction with the current status quo.  The way we are governed in our country at present.  By looking at the examples of the past.  The long ago past, before ’94.  And the more recent past, post free and fair elections for all.

Some things I battle with.  And I find it hard to come to terms with.  Why are prisoners allowed to vote?  A part of me feels, that depending on the nature of their crime, and the length of their sentence, they should be allowed to vote.  Especially if they are expected to join society again, and they have family on the outside.  But another part of me feels that it is difficult to make that distinction.  What types of crime pre-excludes them from voting?  And surely if the South African legal system has judged them to be guilty and unfit to be a part of regular society, they surely forfeit their constitutional rights?  Or is that in direct contradiction with the constitutional rights?  Does it make any sense?  The distinction at present is that prisoners are allowed to vote, unless they are mentally unstable.  So exactly how fool proof is the system?

Another thing that really baffles me is the whole “spoil-your-vote-campaign”.  Yes, I’m serious.  Leading up to the elections, there has been a huge “spoil-your-vote-campaign”.  I might be wrong, and completely off the mark, but it strikes me as being ever so slightly daft.  I mean why bother then in the first place?  Apparently the reasoning is that by spoiling your vote, you are demonstrating your dissatisfaction with the current governance of the country.  As well as with the opposition parties.  It means that politically speaking, in your opinion, nobody quite comes up to scratch.  You could feel that all political parties are self-serving.  Disingenuous.  False.  Egotistical.  Corrupt.  Given to nepotism.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.  And so the list goes on.  A part of me gets it.  But I must be honest – it’s a really, really, really small part.  It diminishes the hard won efforts of those who came before us.  Who fought so hard for this privilege.  The opportunity it gives to us, the man and woman on the street, to finally have our say.  To feel as if we’re playing a role.  In addition, spoiling your ballot, effectively means that your casting your lot with the majority party.  As it gives them the benefit of your spoils.  Statistically speaking, spoilt ballots, aid the strongest party, and effectively takes away votes from the minority.  The opposition.  The little parties, that could together, take away a bit of the power of the majority party.  Sometimes, even if you know that your party will never be able to win, it is still wise to vote for them.  The more votes, the stronger and louder their voice.  The more accountability they can demand from those in power. 

Another sad fact is also the apathy of so many.  The alarming stats when it comes to registered voters who fail to pitch up and do their thing.  I understand that it is difficult for many people to vote.  People in transit, living in different countries, the elderly, the sick, people touring, away on work, or just plain caught up in everyday life.  It is understandable.  And I have empathy.  But for those of us who registered, we have a civil duty to do our thing.  Not just for us, but for our kids, our families, and those we care about.  This is our country.  Let’s play an active role, and have our say.  In my opinion voting shows optimism and belief in change.  Not cynicism and disenchantment.  And being resigned to not being heard.   

If believing and partaking in elections makes me delusional and naïve, then I own it.  And happily too.  I am exceedingly proud of each and every Election Voting stamp in my ID Book.  I even have some stamps in my old ID Book, from before I got married and changed my surname.  I can equate it to passport stamps.  Commemorating great journeys.  Because quite simply they do.

The 2014 elections, marks 20 years of democratic elections for all in sunny SA.  And how things have changed since the ground breaking elections in 1994.  Crazy to think that the “Born-Free’s” are now 20 years old already.  They grew up in a country, where all had equal rights.  We shared the same beaches.  The same suburbs and neighbourhoods.  The same restaurants.  The same class rooms.

That is what elections did for us.

Made my “x” and damn proud of it!

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