Register This Weekend to Vote

Dear friends and fellow South Africans,

Are you between 20 and 29 years old? If so, you may be one of the almost 5 million in this age group who are not registered to vote. I’d like to give you a reason to get out to your voting station this weekend, and register.

Many young South Africans think the immediate future cannot be changed. Despite the fact that the ANC has failed you and your generation, and despite the fact that it lacks the integrity, courage and know-how to change course towards a better future, you believe that the ANC is likely to win the next elections. Thus, no matter how frustrated you are, or how angry, or how determined to have the ANC sit up and listen; you don’t see the point in voting.

But there is always good reason to strengthen the giant’s opponent at every opportunity, for so the time will come when the giant can be taken.

In the short-term, the stronger the opposition to the ruling Party, the more often we will be able to stop the ruling Party’s excesses and unilateral decisions.

We need the opposition in South Africa to be strong enough to stop the ruling Party’s outrageous ideas; like eTolls. South Africans already pay tax on almost everything we buy. Surely we have paid, again and again, for the maintenance of our roads.

We know that billions of Rands are set aside in the national budget every year and allocated to specific programmes, like road maintenance, infrastructure development and service delivery. But year upon year, a substantial portion of these billions are channelled away from the programmes they are allocated to, into corruption, waste and financial mismanagement.

So why should we pay again? Why should we pay more? It could be pointed out that Section 21 of our Constitution guarantees everyone the right to freedom of movement. Surely that doesn’t mean, ‘So long as they can pay the toll fee’.

There are endless other issues the ruling Party needs to be challenged on.

The Secrecy Bill comes to mind. Since my last newsletter, I am pleased to say that the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee has been sent back to the Committee because, as the IFP kept explaining, our minority view has to be recorded. We have a right to our view, whether or not it is palatable to the ruling Party.

The stronger the opposition, the more authority we have to challenge the ruling Party in Parliament, in Committees and in the Legislatures. When we speak, we speak on your behalf. Thus, if you give us a mandate through the ballot box, with your vote, we have the authority to tell the ruling Party, “This is not what the people of South Africa want.” It may be what some want, but a large percentage of South Africans disagree. Democracy is not about listening to the loudest voice. It’s about listening to every voice.

So the immediate future can be changed. Your vote in 2014 will shift the balance of power and send a message to the ANC that they do not have sole mandate on South Africa. The way the ANC behaves, it is clear that they believe once you have voted for them, you have given up your right to speak, for they are now your voice.

That is not how it works in the IFP.

In the IFP, you never give up your voice to your political representatives. On election day, you enter a partnership with the IFP. That partnership continues every day, throughout the five years until the next election. Every day you get to speak to your representatives and guide us, instruct us, challenge us and hold us accountable. We are here to serve you.

When you vote for the IFP, we understand that you are not giving us free rein to fly around the world, buy military submarines and hand out tenders. You are giving us responsibility for seeking your best interests. You are tasking us with solving unemployment. You are instructing us to sort out the education system. You are demanding that we fix the skyrocketing cost of living that sees young people deeply in debt and without hope of becoming property owners or successful entrepreneurs.

We understand your mandate. When you vote for the IFP, you get what you’re voting for.

I know that you will only go and vote if your vote brings change. It will.

It can. But the first step on this exciting journey is ensuring that your name is on the Voters’ Roll. Unless you register now, your chance to vote will be lost when the moment comes.

The weekend’s voter registration drive is critical. You may think that because the 2014 elections are still so far away, you’ll have plenty of chances to register to vote. It’s true that you can register at any Municipal Electoral Office, during office hours, on any day of the week. But, to do that, you need to make an appointment, arrange transport and possibly even take time off work or away from class.

It’s unlikely you’ll want to do that now, as we head into the festive season and thoughts turn to holidays, budgets and new-year’s plan. So you may, in fact, have only a month or two’s window to make that appointment. Once the election date has been proclaimed and published in the Government Gazette, voter registration closes. The date hasn’t been announced yet, but that is likely to happen early next year, perhaps during the President’s State of the Nation Address in Parliament.

So why wait, and try to figure out how and when and where to do it later? This weekend, the IEC is coming to you. All you need do is go to your voting station at any time on Saturday or Sunday. All you need with you is your ID and your determination to change the future. Take your neighbours and your family with you. This is a moment to celebrate. It’s a moment of preparation.

If you need to check whether you’re registered, or which voting station you’re registered at, sms your ID number to 32810. If you have moved since the last elections, you will need to change your voting station. You can do that this weekend.

If you are 17 now, but will be turning 18 between now and March 2014, register this weekend. If you miss this opportunity, you may lose the chance to vote in 2014. You don’t have to be 18 to register. In fact, you can register to vote when you turn 16. If you do that now, you will be ready to vote in the next Local Government Elections where you can choose your representatives to serve in your municipality.

This weekend is the moment. Get to your voting station and register.

The IFP Youth Brigade and Women’s Brigade will be busy in communities across South Africa this weekend, encouraging South Africans to get ready to change the future. I will be in KwaZulu Natal, visiting voting stations in Nongoma, Ulundi, Eshowe and Durban.

I look forward to speaking to young and old, and seeing the names of our future partners go onto the Voter’s Roll.

Yours in the service of our nation,

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP