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The winds of change blow

A merican statesman and diplomat Thomas Jefferson once reminded us that there was no government by the majority, but “a government by the majority who participate”.

US civil rights leader Martin Luther King took this further: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

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Our global icon Nelson Mandela said he considered himself neither morally, nor legally obliged to obey laws made by a parliament in which he was not represented.

Such powerful messages by leaders who have left an indelible legacy to the world should always jolt us into action.

Yesterday will always be remembered as the day millions of eligible South African voters went to cast their votes for a government of their choice.

With the country marking 30 years of democracy, these were the seventh polls – a remarkable achievement.

You only have to admire those among us who woke up to queue at the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) polling stations countrywide, to put an X next to a party or an independent candidate of their choice.

Who you voted for is your choice and a democratic right, enshrined in our constitution. Who you voted for is not what matters.

What matters is what drove you to make the choice – a caring government, which is at all times accountable to the citizenry.

Not a government whose leaders will be seen engaging with the people – only in the run-up to the polls.

It should be a government led by leaders who put the interests and aspirations of those who voted them into power far above theirs and their families.

After casting my vote at Kreft Primary School in Kempton Park, I had the privilege to engage some voters on what propelled them to wake up and honour their civic duty: voting in South Africa’s watershed general election.

A common thread among all of them was one – change. What the people aspired to see is not something out of the ordinary.

They want jobs, houses, an end to crime, food security, a restoration of infrastructure and the fixing of street potholes.

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As we give billions in taxes to the SA Revenue Service each month, surely challenges people continue to highlight should be easily addressed from the fiscus and not be destined for looting by those entrusted with authority over us.

If revelations of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture are anything to go by – a blot on a democracy we worked so hard for – it is time for a serious introspection and possibly an overhaul on how government conducts its business.

If you get paid from the taxpayers’ money, you enjoy no right to assume that you have been given a blank cheque to sign off on multibillion-rand projects – only to siphon public money for private use with impunity.

While those who went to the polls deserve praise and being lauded, there are several millions who preferred to stay at home, maintaining it is “a waste of time” and “nothing will change” when casting your vote.

A civic duty, which includes casting your vote, refers to a responsibility expected from all members of a society.

We all have a duty to perform in society. That includes serving on a school governing body, paying taxes, obeying the law, serving on boards, commissions and legislatures.

Serving on these is also a privilege to make a difference in other people’s lives – not your family, cronies and the politically connected.

It would be a travesty of the people’s aspirations if the 2024 polls in South Africa fail to deliver the change desired.

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