Dear Mr President
All of us as citizens in a democratic state are obliged to observe and
carry out our civic responsibilities in a manner that promotes a vibrant and
thriving democracy which serves everybody’s interests.
Civic responsibility is defined as the responsibility of a citizen and is
comprised of actions and attitudes associated with democratic governance and
social participation. The new South Africa that was born in 1994 following
centuries of social exclusion and oppression of the majority is a place that
caters for everyone irrespective of race, gender and creed. This new democratic
space has allowed everyone’s voice to be heard and beholden the government to
Actions of civic responsibility can be displayed in advocacy of various
causes such as political, economic, civil and environmental or quality of life
The African National Congress (ANC) has enjoyed and been endorsed by the
majority of the voters in all the polls held since 1994. All the voters who
took the time to go to the polls have effectively carried out their civic
responsibility and given the ANC a vote of confidence and mandate to lead transformation
While the liberal media has sought to drive a wedge and divide the ANC,
the people have always spoken through the power of their universal franchise
through their vote. In particular, the media and commentators have pointed out
the decline in support for the ANC in some of the metropolitan areas,
especially in Gauteng. With a high turnout in the last election by
international standards, the commentators still view it as “acceptable”
in a highly politicised country such as South Africa.
Be that as it may, the ANC has reached out to the so-called disillusioned
potential voter, particularly the youth who constitute 30% of the electorate in
2019. The ANC has defied the odds to continue being the leader of society in
the face of the onslaught by the media and their elites. Having brought the
apartheid regime to its knees following years of struggle, the ANC has shown
enormous and similar resilience as it sought to lead a better life for all
citizens in an inclusive society.
Against all odds, the tripartite Alliance remains the only vehicle
capable of defending, consolidating and deepening the National Democratic
Revolution. In the last 25 years since the attainment of democracy, the ANC has
demonstrated that it has the interests of everybody at heart by consistently
delivering on its promise to improve the lives of South African citizens and in
particular, being the champion of the poorest of the poor and vulnerable. This
is shown in the manner that the caring government has provided shelter to those
who cannot afford to build their houses, by proving free water to the poor and
through the extensive social welfare system which puts food on the tables of
the poor. The provision of these services had previously been ignored by the
oppressive government which excluded the majority of citizens from having a say
in their own welfare.
Mr President, there can be no doubt that the ANC has done more than any
other previous organisation in uniting society and ensuring that the government
International observes remain at awe at the manner South Africa
transitioned from oppression to a democracy with limited shedding of blood. The
negotiated settlement which ushered in democracy was unprecedented and remains
a model for the rest of the world. As former United States president Barack
Obama observed in 2013, South Africa has shown a commitment to the
constitution, rule of law and equal treatment for all people.
At the Young African leaders Initiative Town Hall at the University of
Johannesburg in Soweto, Obama remarked that he was inspired by the story of
South Africa which triumphed against the oppression of the majority to become a
Mr President, it is crucial and important to maintain and sustain this
democracy and it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate and
ensure that indeed the government continues to carry out the mandate of
providing essential services to all the people of South Africa. The capacity of
the state to deliver services is only effective and reliant on its citizens to
observing their end of the bargain.
Whereas the people ensured that the apartheid stronghold was broken
through the boycott of payment for services, the same cannot be effective in a
democratic state which caters for everybody’s interest. The withholding of
payment for services rendered can only bring harm to the government and be
detrimental for the rest of society in the long run.
The user pay principle has been highly efficient in the private sectors
such as the telecommunications industry. The users know too well that they get
service for what they pay for. The same principle has been applied excellently
in the cable and satellite television industry.
It should therefore be logical that the citizens understand that the same
principle is relevant in the provision of public services by the government.
Civic responsibility should be the national duty of every single one of
us in order to ensure that democracy thrives and the government strengthens the
capacity to carry out its mandate.
However, in a polarised social environment which gives everyone a voice
like South Africa’s, other organisations have campaigned to defeat the user pay
principle and divided society.
These voices have presented themselves as having the interests of the
people at heart while their actions have pointed to the negative.
The democratic space opened up by the ANC government has unfortunately
allowed these destructive forces to have an undeserved filter.
Be that as it may, Mr President, the ANC remains at the apex of ensuring
that the people understand their pact with the government carrying out their
It is this pact that will ensure that the provision of services continues
without hindrance and the poor and the well-off continue to enjoy the benefits
– Mabe is the ANC national spokesperson and head of the department of information
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