South Africa’s 2016 Local Elections: creating space for new political voices.

On 3 August 2016, South Africa hosted successful local elections, which were deemed free and fair by independent observers. The onset of the elections had their own challenges, with at least 14 ward councillor candidates having lost their lives in what is suspected to be politically motivated murders. On this score, I wonder if the elections were really free and fair.

It is unfortunate that the tree of freedom is still being watered by blood, 22 years after our emancipation from the apartheid regime. May their families be comforted.

What is interesting though is what the election results are saying about the state of our democracy and how we are evolving as a nation. The playing field has been somewhat levelled, with opposition parties gaining momentum and securing significant support than in the previous years.

On one hand, this does not bode well for the majority party and requires honest introspection on how it has been performing. On the other hand, the opening of political space for other players is good for the country.

South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world and our politics needs to reflect this through policies, representations and creating spaces for all voices.

Research in diversity studies consistently shows that homogeneity /dominance of any one group, race, party, gender etc leads to stagnation in creativity and growth. It also creates a an in group-think that promotes elitism, bigotry and intolerance for external ideas and people.

So on this score, I am excited by the new developments that create space for party collaborations and coalitions, shifting comfort zones, spurring growth and opening space for inclusivity.

I believe that the new developments will prove beneficial for those who depend on government the most to deliver quality services and improve the course of their lives.

The people os South Africa have spoken and we remain one of the shining lights on the continent and the world.

God bless Africa !

pearl p mashabane


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