Duty to Vote

We often hear about people’s “right to vote”. What is much less emphasized is the concept of there also being a “duty to vote”, such a duty being incumbent on the citizens of any democratic state. At this particular time in our history, it has arguably never been more important for all South African citizens to stand up and be counted, and have their say in determining the future of the country. Elections, more than anything else, demonstrate that democracy is about government serving and being beholden to the people at large, and not the other way round.

This weekend is the final registration opportunity for voters to confirm and, where necessary, update their address details with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). We urge those who have not already done so, in particular first-time voters, to contact their local voting stations to ensure that the relevant information on the voters’ roll is accurate and up to date. Registered voters can do so by SMS-ing their ID numbers to 32810, both to confirm that they are registered and to find out whether additional address details are required of them. They can also contact the IEC Hotline on 0800 11 8000 for assistance daily between 07h00 and 21h00 or go to the IEC website (www.elections.org.za). 

As was done with the two previous elections, the Board is driving a ‘Make Us Count’ election awareness and information initiative with the aim of involving the Jewish community as much as possible in the upcoming local government elections. In addition to ensuring that as many community members as possible are registered and come out to vote on the day, this includes once again arranging for volunteers to assist the IEC by acting as election monitors on polling day. In 2014, the Board was instrumental in putting together South Africa’s first-ever interfaith and multinational election observer team, an IEC-accredited body whose members – including nearly 100 Jews, Muslims, Christians and foreign nationals - monitored events and assisted election officials at over 250 voting stations in five cities and across three provinces. Alana Baranov is again heading up this project, and all those interested in participating are asked to please contact her at alanapughjones@gmail.com.

Those who, out of apathy or laziness, neglect to participate in elections are failing to do their part in upholding and strengthening one of the most vital institutions of democracy in their country. Such people are hardly in a position to lambast the leadership of the day when they themselves could not be bothered to have a say in who those leaders would be when they had the opportunity. We must guard against such self-defeating negativity taking root within our own ranks. Instead, let us recommit ourselves to playing an active role as we can in participating in and contributing to the good health and vigour of our democratic institutions.        

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​Peaceful Jewish protesters forcibly removed from the entrance of the Sandton Convention Centre

Peaceful Jewish protesters were forcibly removed from the entrance of the Sandton Convention Centre (SCC) earlier today (Friday 10 May).

The protestors were members of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) who were demonstrating against statements made by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Naledi Pandor for effectively calling for violence against Jewish students on campus such as we are seeing on US campuses Pandor was the keynote speaker at the unfortunately named “global anti-Apartheid Conference on Israel.”