Low participation in election worrisome - NADEL

People no longer view electoral process as a means of delivering social and political goods

NADEL reflects upon the 2019 election results

14 May 2019

The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) congratulates the African National Congress (ANC) on its sixth (6th) electoral victory since the first democratic elections held in South Africa on 27 April 1994.

The ANC won the national elections with 57.51% of the votes. The ANC was followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) with 20.76% of the votes and were followed by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with 10.79% of the votes. NADEL congratulates all parties on their active participation in solidifying South African Democracy.

This marks a period of celebration for the ruling party, however it must also be a time for reflection and renewal for it. The decreasing voter turnout is a sobering fact.

An analysis of the results shows that voter turnout dropped from 73,48% in 2014 to 65,99% in 2019 whilst in 1999 voter turnout peaked at 89,3%. Also, of concern is that the real number of spoilt votes that were cast was 235 472. The numbers not only reveal a downward trend in voter turnout but an increase in voter apathy and discontent amongst the citizenry.

It is also noted with great concern that young people between the 18-35 age group did not exercise their right to vote. There is an increase in their despondency as a result of direct negative perceptions about the state of politics, corruption and tokenism in the country.

There is a decline in the level of engagement between the government and electorate which is not healthy for our democracy. No longer do people in the country view the democratic electoral process as a means of delivering social and political goods to the people. These perceptions weaken democracy. Low participation democracies are dangerous as they are open to manipulation by well financed social and economic forces.

As the ruling party takes it seats for the sixth term we hope that it will advance and promote the hope of the nation. The ruling party will have the task of leading the country to greater prosperity.

This will require that corruption be dealt with decisively and it be rooted out completely from all state and private structures. A culture of corruption can never be tolerated in this era. There is a need to return to the foundational principles of the constitution and the promises of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). There must be greater commitment and effort to deliver services to the majority of South Africans especially those who have experienced little or no change in their lives despite their triumph against national oppression.

National oppression was an all-embracing attack on the humanity and personhood of black people. This can only be corrected if there is deep transformation and a fulfilment of basic socio-economic rights for all people. The right to humanity of a person does not cease with the right to vote and the act of universal suffrage. It means that the government in this term must return to the values in the Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution and seek to fulfil these goals for the people.

This will directly and positively strengthen and increase democracy in South Africa.

Issued by National Association of Democratic Lawyers South Africa, 14 May 2019