With pending elections here in South Africa, in August, and America, in November, a few lessons can be learned from the recent poll in the UK.
But before I get into that, here are a few things I have noticed about politics in general at the moment.
- Somehow we have slowly drifted to the right, the mostly self righteous, insane, xenophobic right. (The world has changed okes. We actually could be pretty much be a few countries instead of hundreds - we share brands, culture, currency as a standard of exchange - so to hell with borders).
- As a voting populace, we have wandered into political Neverland - self serving, social media driven (no social media is not thought leadership or even good research), never a thought spared, more than occasionally xenophobic and generally weird (yes America, think the "Donald")
- Somehow we have allowed our politicians to run riot - financially and politically - with all things of our countries. As much as the Remains appeared boring and predictable, the Leaves totally lack any morals or a plan. Oops. In South Africa we tolerate blatant state capture and a routing of the countries coffers in the name of one man - and his mates. In Russia, Vladimir rules the roost. (Frankly I feel like moving to Cuba right now - well maybe not).
- We have really become swayed in our principles and values by the simplest of things. The number of hoaxes perpetuated over Facebook for a decade stands as testament to our fading ability to actually think for ourselves.
- Sadly, racism is all but rife. It is far from dead and instead has reared it's ugly head from the siesta it had in the heady days of Nelson Mandela and the, then, new South Africa.
So. What for the elections in August.
Make an educated vote.
There was a belief that the referendum in the UK was trending towards Remain. But it is evident that some voters voted contrary to what they believed to be true - that regardless of their Leave vote, Remain would win.
Find some credible information and read, read, read before you make your cross. I know it's hard given Hlaudiville etc. But at least try and find something to guide your vote. Just because you voted DA before doesn't mean they are the right choice for the country - although my personal feeling is there are no alternatives.
The ANC have serious issues too. And if they are not brought in line, they will continue deeper down the rabbit hole.
Established politics and political parties have almost entirely disenfranchised themselves. Our politicians have discredited their parties and themselves in most spheres, parties and regions. Every party has its skeletons. But some really do manage to work in spite of their politics.
If your municipality works, have unqualified audits, you have working sewerage, electricity and believe your rates go to where they are needed then support the party running the show (Cape Town - as much as it works for those who have, it is still not working entirely for those who don't - so don't be quite complacent yet - but it is better than most).
Be educated, read and read more.
Every little bit counts. One municipality working, one city working means that others making educated votes can slowly change every other municipality, region and in the end the entire country into a South African enterprise worth working and living in - for everyone - regardless of country of origin.
Don't be suckered by sweet talk
Every promise the Leave movement made seems to be a lie. Many unsubstantiated "truths" were bandied about to justify a Leave vote - and the subsequent fallout has been earth shattering. The Leavers have not stood up to be counted in the aftermath and the quitters have shown an extreme lack of - dare I say - backbone. That's what happens when you don't believe your own garbage.
As South Africans we expect the food packages and other things for our votes as sweeteners. We vote for change knowing nothing will change and hoping that everything will. We vote without conscience. We vote with misdirected loyalty.
Your vote matters
Yes it does. And so does the vote of everyone around you. In South Africa we tend to abstain entirely from the process in the hope that our non-vote shakes our party out of their insanity. The truth is the less of us that vote, the more the hardliners and loyalists get their way - because they will never not vote.
Every vote matters. Every single one.
The only way we can really force a change of heart and mind is to vote. Regardless of who you vote for, the bigger the turnout, the stronger the message.
Sure, the politicians will take that as a vote of confidence if they win, but it is your first step towards being a true activist for our nation.
The August vote is significant for our fledgling nation
So it has been more than 20 years since liberation. I has been a winding and, at times, frenetic ride. We have been through ups and downs together and it is time we made a stand. We still have high unemployment. We still have rampant poverty. We have insecurity, crime and corruption.
But we are South African. That means something right? We have made it this far and need to hold our politicians accountable. Otherwise they will just suck us dry. They are our public servants. Voted in to serve us as the nation - regardless of their political preference.
I for one, am sick and tired of politicians - irrespective of their role - expecting us the voting populace to be subservient to them. That is not the way this works.
So here's the deal. Make your mark. Make it count. This August vote is one of the most significant in our short history as a multicultural and awesomely diverse country.
Make it count.