From the edi­tor’s desk

Public Sector Manager - - Editor’s Note - Head of Edi­to­rial and Pro­duc­tion Des Latham

There are two pub­lic hol­i­days this month – Fam­ily Day and Free­dom Day. One used to be a re­li­gious hol­i­day, the other is linked to our demo­cratic his­tory mark­ing the day of our proper lib­er­a­tion which came on 27 April 1994.

I was liv­ing in the U.S.A. at the time and this was the first vote I par­tic­i­pated in along with the ma­jor­ity of South Africans.

Stand­ing in front of me in the queue out­side San Fran­cisco

City Hall along with a few thou­sand South Africans was a young woman who hailed from Em­pan­geni in KwaZulu-Na­tal. This was a fas­ci­nat­ing mo­ment, be­cause I grew up in a small farm­ing area called Nk­walini around 40km up river from Em­pan­geni in the heart of Zu­l­u­land.

We spoke to each other in isiZulu. It was only later that I re­alised the full ex­tent of our sym­bolic con­ver­sa­tion, she a black South African, me a white. Both stand­ing to vote as ci­ti­zens liv­ing out­side South Africa in a for­eign coun­try.

A few months later I was back in South Africa. While this is a per­sonal note, the na­tional note to this day re­mains poignant when we re­mem­ber those who fought for our free­dom. Free­dom Day is to be rel­ished par­tic­u­larly by those who re­call the days be­fore 1994 and we must not take our free­dom for granted.

27 April 1994 was the day that colo­nial­ism and op­pres­sion ended on pa­per with each one of us mark­ing our votes. We must hon­our the mem­o­ries of those who are no longer with us and who gave their lives so that we can live in a coun­try with the world's best Con­sti­tu­tion.The mes­sage is sim­ple: vote.

It has been a month since the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion's Voter Reg­is­tra­tion week­end where South Africans had the op­por­tu­nity to check whether their data was cor­rectly cap­tured on the voter's roll and also reg­is­ter to vote. In re­cent years the per­cent­age of peo­ple vot­ing has dropped slightly.This is dis­ap­point­ing.

The turnout of reg­is­tered vot­ers in the 2014 elec­tions was 73 per­cent which was a four per­cent de­cline on the last two elec­tions' turnouts of 77 per­cent.The right to vote is taken for granted per­haps by some who are now liv­ing in an era where it has al­ways seemed to have been part of our demo­cratic land­scape. It is still an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence even af­ter over a quar­ter of a cen­tury to stand with my fel­low ci­ti­zens and to mark my cross where I see fit.

While we feel men­tally eman­ci­pated, we are not free of poverty, un­em­ploy­ment, big­otry, racism and eco­nomic op­pres­sion. It is only through a sim­ple yet pow­er­ful right that we con­tinue the process that our strug­gle he­roes waited so long to ex­pe­ri­ence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.