How NOT Voting is Still Voting: Electoral Systems With Atiba Madyun By Sibongile Khumalo


In conversation with Atiba Madyun President/CEO of The Madyun Group (TMG) on the US and South African electoral systems I learned many things, but the few that stood out were; one, you will never find the perfect candidate for presidency, unless the candidate is you of course and two; not voting is still voting for the gal or guy you like the least.

Truthfully speaking, the beauty of democracies is having an alternative. The only problem with this is that sometimes the options presented on the ballot paper are never quite perfect for you. They tend to vary from your least favorite individual to the one you hate the most. It is no wonder that so many people are just refusing to vote. I get it!

Nevertheless, and this is where living and prospering in a democracy becomes tricky; whether you decide to vote or not, you are gearing the course of your entire life!

The drawback about remaining neutral is that it is still making a statement. This gets even worse when it comes to voting because by not voting, the individual you hate the absolute most on the ballot paper, gets your vote. By not making an X next to anyone, it increases the chances of your most despised candidate to control many aspects of your life, even the most intimate of them, like who you can and cannot have a relationship with or where and when you can buy a house. Yes, it is that deep.

What is important to remember in voting or not voting for the individual or party who will essentially direct the course of your life, is what direction they are planning on leading it into. Try to understand their policies, politics and principles – are they progressive for the whole nation or only to some? What are they saying about YOUR future in the said democracy? What do they have to say about your neighbor’s future? Do you like what they have to say, or at least some of what they have to say? Are you okay with the direction they have planned for you, for your country? Are they cognizant about your life, your way of life and is this reflected in their policies, politics and principles?

Do note: in the ideal world an ideal party will check all the right boxes. However, because we live in a world where you are not running for president, not all of your boxes will be checked. Remember, the parties on these ballot papers consist of a group of PEOPLE, all wired differently and have differing ideas on what progress looks like. What is important to think about, I think, is which party checks most of your boxes, because remember; there is always room for progress.

So vote or don’t vote, just know who you are voting for.

About the  Author

BongiSibongile Khumalo, is currently pursuing an M.A in Environmental Literacy. She has a B.A. degree in Sociology and Communications, and an Honour’s degree in English Literature from the University of the Western Cape. She serves as the academic and transformation officer for the UWC graduate house committee (2015/2016). She is also a copy editor at Clarity Editorial and has worked on joint research projects with the World Health Organization and the UWC HIV/AIDS unit. Sibongile has demonstrated her passion for youth empowerment through co-founding My Sister My Keeper (NGO) which is directed at the development of young women in and around the Northern Cape region.

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