Don’t give up your right to vote
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THE political parties contesting the March 2, 2020 elections have all submitted their various lists on Friday during Nomination Day. Each of the two main parties has expressed confidence in their lists and even the smaller parties – some with no real support base – have also spoke of winning.

As we have said earlier this week, elections have consequences for democratic standing of a country and for democratic governance. As a functioning democracy, holding periodic elections is one of the standards by which the country’s standing would be measured by the international community and by local human rights groups. Indeed, one of the central aspects of democracy is the holding of regular competitive elections. In fact, one could argue that there is no democracy without elections. There is, of course, the view that democracy confined to elections is at best a flawed notion. But even this school of thought recognises the centrality of elections to a flourishing democracy.

But now that the parties have filed their nomination papers, they will utilise the remaining days of the campaign season to take their message across the country. It is during this period, that each party would make their cases to the voters who must not give up their opportunity to decide who governs this great nation. The right to vote was fought for through blood, sweat and tears. It is a right that ought not to be taken for granted or ignored.

It is a right that allows every eligible citizen the opportunity to vest privilege into a person and group he/she thinks can best represent and articulate his/her interest. It is a right that carries tremendous power, through which the voter can hire a representative, fire that representative and exercise the responsibility in ensuring that representative accounts for the management of citizens’ affairs and the nation’s resources. Voting therefore is a sacred duty and must be cherished.

To cherish the vote is to turn out and vote and thereafter remain vigilant in the political processes to ensure that promises made are kept, involvement in the management and decision-making on matters that impact the well-being of self and community is guaranteed and respected. To not vote is to deny oneself the opportunity to influence the course of direction impacting one’s life and community.

Man lives in a political association. By this it means decisions affecting one’s life have political implications from the womb to the tomb. It was a political decision that informs laws and policies with regard to the right to life and where death occurs, the right for one’s earthly remains to be disposed of consistent with specific standards. Where death has occurred under questionable circumstances, the deceased is entitled through the Coroner’s Act to an inquest.

During one’s lifetime, political decisions will inform the making of laws, conceptualisation and execution of policies and programmes, which will impact on quality of life, inclusive of whether there is respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. These include the right to freedom of association, freedom of speech and sharing of ideas and information, healthcare, education, ownership of property, the right to a safe and secure environment, work (jobs/economic opportunities), and protection from discrimination. Political decisions inform quality and equitable infrastructural development and resource management, inclusive of the environment.

Where government in our country is representational when a citizen exercises the right to vote by casting a ballot, it becomes a corresponding right to question and propose ideas to elected officials since they are acting on your behalf. This is one of the basic elements in the thrust towards realising good governance. Good governance requires that citizens stay engaged throughout the process and elected officials responding to the desires of the community within the confines of the law.

When a voter gives up the right to vote, it is tantamount to relinquishing an important act in determining who ought to be the leaders in the community. More so, the refusal to discharge this sacred duty bears the consequences of having to live under conditions and in circumstances not befitting of your desire. A vote also places persons of choice in leadership positions to make and administer laws that can bring about economic opportunities, bring about equality, improve infrastructure, security and the environment, and manage your towns and neighbourhoods free of corruption.

To vote is to have a voice and the right to demand thereafter that the voice be heard and elected leaders act in accordance with the laws of the community and the desires of the people. Voting is a sacred duty and all eligible voters are called on to exercise it.

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