Monday, 1 August, is the first day for South Africans who applied for special votes to cast their votes for the 2016 Local Government Elections.
Maureen Valsecchi of Dainfern in Johannesburg says this is a golden opportunity for all eligible voters to exercise their democratic rights and that those who don’t vote have no say and can’t complain about not getting services from government.
Valsecchi who exercised her right to vote alongside her husband Phillip at station at Dainfern College, in Fourway, said voting is very important because she needed to have a say in how the country is governed.
“If one does not vote, they actually have no say and cannot complain if they don’t get what they want. We knew that we would not be able to vote on 3 August so we applied for special votes,” she said, illustrating how seriously she takes elections.
Special voters are given until tomorrow 2nd August to exercise their right to vote while others will be voting on Wednesday, 3 August. Valsecchi said she and her husband encourage their children to vote and they are all registered to vote.
Similarly, Lidia Rauch, one of more than 50 000 people expected to cast special votes reiterated Valsecchi’s view about the importance of voting by saying : “I believe that it’s a democratic right I will practice. I want to see the party I voted for last back in government,”
The 27-year-old from Kloof Street in Cape Town said she chose to cast her vote at Jan Van Riebeeck Primary School because she wanted the right to choose her local government.
Rauch said it was important for every South African to vote since the event only happens every five years.
“Especially with service delivery issues you can vote out the local government who is not doing anything of benefit to your area. Local government immediately affects you, if you don’t use your right to vote it’s the same as saying that you don’t care.”
Valsecchi however says she is not convinced that youth understand the importance of election talk less of participating in it and she puts the responsibility on parents to educate their wards on the need to participate in elections not as an obligation, but as their right.
Meanwhile, the IEC spokeswoman Kate Bapela said on Monday that it is possible that the opening of some voting stations will be delayed. Though she was yet to confirm and name such places, Bapela said the voting stations she had visited in Fourways and the south of Johannesburg were all ready to go.
“I haven’t received detailed feedback on where the problems are at the moment,” said Bapela.
The commission received over 740 000 applications for special votes which is three times more than those received in 2011. About 44% of the applications were for home visits and 56% from voters who will vote at the various voting stations around the country.