‘Despite challenges, our democracy is in good health’ — Ramaphosa

15 April 2024 - 13:39
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President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa's democracy is in good health despite challenges more than a month before the national and provincial elections.

In his weekly online newsletter, Ramaphosa said even as political and other forms of contestation continue before the polls they are safeguarded under “the broad umbrella of a constitutional order characterised by fundamental freedoms and human rights”.

“It is up to us all, whether as government, political parties, candidates, voters, the media or civil society organisations, to play our part by ensuring our actions and words inspire faith in our democracy. We must continue to work together to ensure that nothing undermines the integrity of our elections,” he said.

The elections will prove the prophets of doom wrong as it will be another affirmation of the strength of the country's constitutional order, its institutions and democracy. 

“Above all, it is up to us all to ensure this hard-won right to vote, for which so many sacrificed so much, is exercised by every eligible citizen in a climate free of intimidation and violence. 

“Political contestation in our country takes place freely and openly. The media is free to report. We have independent courts that administer justice without fear or favour, including an electoral court that oversees the work of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and the conduct of elections.”

The “vibrant and robust” campaigning is a reflection of how the country's politics continue to evolve and mature.

“It is also a reflection of the many different views in our society and the variety of choices voters have. In a democracy such as ours, we should not be worried about differences, even when sharply expressed. That is because most South Africans value and respect the democratic process.

“Over the past 30 years we have held elections that are not only free and fair, but also peaceful and free of intimidation. Dire predictions of South Africa ‘regressing into violence’ or ‘democratic backsliding’ that regrettably remain a common feature of some reportage and analysis have been proven wrong time and again.

“Research commissioned by the IEC found that before the 2021 local government elections almost three-fifths of South Africans, or 57%, believed it was their duty to vote.”

Despite youth apathy often been cited as a problem, 55% of 18 to 24-year-olds saw it as their duty to vote.

“It is significant that young people accounted for more than 78% of new voter registrations last year. The IEC research also found most respondents agree democracy is preferable to other kinds of government.”


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