Verashni Pillay 13/01/2009 12:23 Source: News24
Clarification: Mncedisi was misquoted in this article. The AEC will not prevent anyone from voting if they feel compelled to do so. This is a decision our communities have taken collectively and we are therefore collectively exercising our right not to vote. Through experience, we have found that direct action is the only way to force politicians and those in power towards change.
Cape Town – Poverty action group, the Anti Eviction Campaign (AEC), is planning a nationwide boycott of the upcoming general elections – and is campaigning for others to follow its lead.
“Our people have been voting from April 1994,” Western Cape Provincial AEC Coordinator, Mncedisi Twala told News24. “[But]We have never had a fruitful result out of those elections, because all that we see is corruption, nepotism and the promotion of the private sector.”
Twala said the group planned to hold rallies and protests leading up to the general elections to spread its message: “No land, no house, no jobs – no votes.”
He said hoping for change through elections had proved to be a “waste of time and energy”.
No political activity
“We are not going to allow any political activities in the communities,” said Twala, who is also chairperson of the Gugulethu Backyard Dwellers.
“This is the first time that we are going to be telling people not to vote.”
The decision comes after eight years of campaigning by the AEC against evictions, water cut-offs, poor health services and police brutality.
But Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) spokesperson, Kate Bapela, pleaded with the organisation to reconsider.
“We fought so many years for all of us as South Africans to have the right to go and cast a vote,” she told News24. “I find this most unfortunate.”
She said taking the vote away from any individual was disempowering.
“The very people who they are telling not to vote actually need to vote more than anything else.”
The AEC, an umbrella body for over 15 community organisations, may consider spoiling the ballot instead of voting, said Twala.