By Amukelani Mayimele
When you vote you change nothing. Things will only change if we change our way of thinking and do things for ourselves. Figures show that we vote but do we hold our leaders accountable? Do we know the policies that are approved on our behalf? Do we recommend solutions to government? Are we the principal or are we being (mis)led?
In a democratic country the power should flow from the citizens to the leaders of government. The key responsibility of citizens is then to participate in public life. Citizens have an obligation to become knowledgeable about public issues. They must vigilantly observe how their political leaders and congress use their powers. Conversely, elected leaders should pay attention to the people and react to their needs and proposals. After all the people elected them believing that they would best represent them and their interests. This is not always the case.
Who are elected members of Parliament really representing? Where are the individuals who are supposed to observe how the business of government is carried out? Do we recognise that we have the right to say and believe what we want?
We are allowed to write and say what we think. No government can take away those privileges from us. They are protected by the rule of law. Parliamentary government is a system of rules, not individuals. This law is intended to keep order and protect us. No government officer may infringe these rules. No one can tell the judge how to make a decision on a case. Office bearers cannot use their influence to enrich themselves. Yet our experiences in present-day society run contrary to these constitutionally enshrined stipulations. Is it solely the fault of corrupt public office bearers? No. Are we familiar with our responsibility as civilians?
We live in an environment whereby circumstances seem to contradict democracy. These conditions have left us feeling powerless, discouraged and confused. We have many complaints. We do not know who to blame for our discontent. We fight foreigners and we burn down councillors’ houses. We are frustrated. We need to ask ourselves a few questions.
Do we want to scream or do we want to be heard? Do you want to fight or do you want development? Why is that even though we know what to fight for, we fail on the approach. We adopt ways that are violent or disruptive. This usually compromises the issues we raise. We have to begin by questioning our objectives, then take action.
We should be more visible. We ought to work together with decision makers. We must take part on topics that matter. We have to make our recommendations and analysis to be heard beyond our circle of associates. We should work for our transformation. It is crucial to go beyond ticking a box on a ballot paper every five years. A change of mindset is required. We must bring to an end this mentality of consuming. We have subjected our intellect to thoughts about what you want. We scheme on ways of how we are going to obtain what we want. We stopped thinking about the bigger things in life. We have become dependent on people who sell us things. We have become needy people. We are dependent on the government to give us schools, roads or healthcare facilities. We have the wisdom to tackle our own problems. We can and we must create our own solutions. This will only come into reality once we all position ourselves and become roleplayers in our society.
Amukelani Mayimele is a One Young World ambassador. She is a transformation leader and student committed to addressing issues affecting humanity.