I would like to respond in my personal capacity to Ziyana Lategan regarding her open letter on the WhyVote2014 soapbox rally organised by InkuluFreeHeid (as part of the Our Vote Our Voice campaign) and the SRC.
In her letter, Ms Lategan expressed disagreement with the views of two speakers, Lorne Hallendorff and Anton Taylor, on electoral abstinence. She argued that boycotting the vote can be a deliberate political act.
Firstly, I must thank Ms Lategan for raising issues that enhance public discourse around our constitutional democracy. It is essential that young people at universities and beyond participate in these critical discussions.
Secondly, I would like to clarify that Mr. Hallendorff and Mr. Taylor do not represent InkuluFreeHeid. I respect their views and am grateful for their participation at the rally. I also respect Ms Lategan’s views. In fact, she was given an opportunity to speak at the rally. It is unfortunate that she decided against it.
Thirdly, InkuluFreeHeid respects democratic freedoms and recognises that on Election Day, citizens have the right to (1) vote for a registered political party, (2) spoil their ballots, or (3) abstain from the polls.
While I acknowledge that abstaining from the polls can be a deliberate political act, many citizens abstain due to not having adequate information on political parties. That is why the InkuluFreeHeid website makes comparative information available on policy positions of major political parties. Many citizens abstain because they are not informed about voter registration procedures, which is why InkuluFreeHeid made such information available at the soapbox rally.
I encourage all young South Africans, including Ms Lategan, to engage in InkuluFreeHeid’s non-partisan Our Vote Our Voice campaign as we head towards the 2014 general election.