SOWETAN | Ball is in your court, voters

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times/ File photo

Friday marked an important milestone in the elections calendar, with political parties submitting their candidates’ nomination lists to the Electoral Commission of SA.

The process signifies the first window of opportunity for the public to gauge the quality, integrity and standing of candidates that parties intend to send to parliament and legislatures across the nine provinces.

It also represents an important opportunity for the voters to evaluate progress made by various parties on gender representation and inclusivity.

The next step will be for the public to lodge objections on the nominated candidates based on the prescribed criteria of disqualification, including those convicted and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment.

From now on, we can expect that political activities will increase a notch with rallies and campaigning to woo voters ahead of the May 29 poll. But with intense campaigning ought to come the public scrutiny on the calibre of standing of those who seek to occupy seats of power and preside over public finances.

Too often ahead of elections, we have witnessed how political parties pay lip service to the principle of integrity and prospective legislators being above reproach. These important principles of good governance that could ensure our public representatives stand up to scrutiny are frequently used as political rhetoric.

Some measures introduced by political parties to deal with the crisis of credibility such as the ANC’s step-aside rule have unfortunately not gone far enough to address the problem of poor vetting processes.

Our advice to the voters, therefore, is to take a close and hard look at who is being put forward to represent you and take important policy decisions about the future of this country.

It is equally important to highlight that the primary responsibility for choosing appropriate and qualified candidates for legislatures lies with political parties themselves. However, in the past we have also seen how popular candidates in constituencies, despite their questionable credentials, were parachuted into positions they didn’t deserve.

This has been exemplified by the tradition of patronage networks in political parties which ensure that certain leaders seeking public office use resources to garner support to get them into power.

It’s time for you as voters to use your power to change the status quo by rejecting questionable characters from standing as your representatives.

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