ELECTIONS shape the future of any democracy. It is the beginning for every citizen to have his or her say in that future.
Therefore, registering to vote is important.
You cannot vote if you have not registered as a voter.
This cold fact is founded on the theoretical premise that one’s existence in time and space in a democracy is premised on one’s statistical confirmation as a registered voter.
Without voter registration, an individual is theoretically a non-entity in the making of political power in an election.
However, this theoretical premise has some very real implications.
The right to vote is fundamental to any citizen who is eligible to vote.
Registering as a voter is the first step in recognising that a meaningful democracy starts with each citizen being counted as a voter.
This recognition means that the balance of power in a democracy and any shift in that balance is a direct function of how every single voter exercises the right to vote.
The total number of registered voters is a significant measure of how many people in a democracy potentially determine which political party wins an election and what power the other parties have.
Given the important role a voter plays in a democracy, there is simply no rationale for failing to register, even if one decides not to vote.
Abstaining from voting can be a political statement, albeit a debatable means of doing so.
There is a legitimate right not to vote.
But there is no legitimate right not to register as a voter.
Abstaining from voter registration simply places a citizen in the class of the apathetic and the absurd.
No citizen, irrespective of the level of disenchantment experienced with the prevailing political order, can legitimately claim that he or she has nothing to do with elections, the government and the politics of the day.
Political processes and decisions affect everyone, most notably through the social and economic order.
Therefore, in a democracy, there is not only the right to vote but also the responsibility to do something with that right.
This is possible only if you are a registered voter.
Unregistered citizens who are eligible to vote have lost a valuable opportunity, in the very least, to contribute to a vital statistic.
However, it does render any political speech and action by them hollow.
It is morally questionable for such a person to have a political opinion, even about major public interest issues like corruption and land redistribution.
However, this does not mean they cannot do or say anything of political import.
In this way, a democracy is even forgiving and tolerant of the apathetic.
The apathetic may be undeserving beneficiaries of the state’s programmes for the people.
This is a time for active citizenship so that we may exercise our right to vote, demand our rights as citizens and hold public officials to account.
Activism at local level is a manifestation of meaningful citizenship.
Democratic rights imply civic responsibilities and a departure from apathy to direct engagement with the public servants elected to serve the people.
Many of us have joined the voices protesting against corruption, crime and water supply disruptions.
Now is the time to review what our political leaders have done, and exercise our right and responsibility to make morally and politically sound decisions about who are fit to govern.