Getting Rights Right
We all want to make this country work; we need to make it work. But we need the right person with the rightframe of mind doing the right thing with the right intentions and for all theright reasons.
Forsociety to function as we need it to, we need rules. Our rules were drawn up inthe days of CODESA and get looked at and reviewed when necessary. This is thefunction of our Parliament. The majority of South Africa chose democracy and webask in the freedom that we now have. We have an exemplary constitution thatguarantees equal rights for all yet we still struggle to access decent services - housing,public transport, employment, healthcare and education to name but a few.
Welistened with great interest to hear what state that our nation is in, and withgreat expectation when the budget speech was made. How disappointed I was tolearn of the measly increases to social grants. But what can we do about it? Many of us sigh, drop our shoulders and continue with our daily struggles. Butit need not be so. We have fought to have a “people’s government”. Why don’t weparticipate in influencing decisions and laws in Parliament when we are legallyentitled to do so? Because we don’t know where to start and who to speak to.Some of us are keen to participate, but are in the dark as to how laws aremade. We don’t understand how Parliament or local councils work. Also, becauseof poverty and the lack of education, we simply don’t care or have otherpriorities. Even though these are problems that could easily be solved, theyprevent us from having a say in things that matters to us. But this also doesnot have to be the case.
Parliament,the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces should not scare usaway. We don’t have to wait for the general elections every five years. We canvote in local elections too, taking place 18 May this year. Here we have theopportunity to make it personal. We can choose the councillor of our municipalward and hold them accountable for addressing our issues. They must then takethe issues forward to the Member of Parliament responsible.
We needto tell our councillor that we have no access to public transport and how thenew toll system in Gauteng will cripple us even further. They need to be awareof the needs of the people that they represent. We must tell them when thelocal clinic is not accessible or has inadequate and inappropriate resources.They need to be aware that we know our rights and how to demand them.
We alsoneed to lobby. Lobbyists try to influence government decision making and we cando this by using social media such as Facebook and other websites, publishingnewsletters and giving radio and TV interviews. A good way of getting ourmessage across is by writing to the Ministers and members of executivecommittees.
Let usnot only use the collective power of lobbying to address our own unique issues,but for problems that affect all South Africans, as a community, as a provinceand as a nation. A good friend of mine recently said that he will not voteagain as he voted in 1994. I laughed but had to convince him that his vote canand will make a difference. We need to choose who will represent us in order toensure that all of our rights are protected and that we have a say in thefuture of our beloved country.