As South Africans prepare for the 7th democratic election on Wednesday (May 29), a public holiday, it is crucial to reflect on the sacrifices made and the progress achieved since 1994.

Voting is not just a civic duty; it’s a powerful act of remembrance and gratitude towards those who fought for freedom and equality. However, it is also a time to recognize the challenges that undermine the promise of democracy. Let us remember April 27, 1994 which was historical because it marked the end of many, many years of colonialism, segregation and minority rule and the establishment of a new democratic government in South Africa, first led by Nelson Mandela. The 1994 election was the culmination of years of struggle against apartheid and paved the way toward a new democratic dispensation. 30 years on as we stand on the cusp of our 7th National & Provincial democratic election, many say that this is the most crucial election since 1994, as it is the first time that predictions are that the ruling ANC party may not obtain an outright majority and will thus have to go into a coalition with other parties in order to govern the country. Remember, voting is a powerful tool that can shape our nation and as we exercise this democratic right, it is important to recall the heroes of yesteryear who sacrificed their lives so that today we can enjoy the fruits of true democracy in our country.

Marked by solidarity, resilience, and courage, the difficult struggle against apartheid was a historic chapter in South Africa’s history. The journey towards democracy was arduous, fraught with obstacles, violence, and uncertainty. Countless individuals, both known and unsung heroes, sacrificed their lives, liberties, and livelihoods to dismantle the oppressive system of racial segregation and discrimination. Yet, against all odds, the collective will of the people prevailed. South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994, heralding a new era of hope, reconciliation, and transformation. For many, the right to vote symbolized not just political empowerment, but also unity over division, the triumph of justice over injustice and freedom over oppression. There is more to voting than just merely casting a ballot; it is a commitment to the principles of democracy, human rights, and social justice. It is a way to honour the memory of those who fought for freedom, to uphold their legacy, and ensure that their sacrifices were not in vain. By participating in the electoral process, each citizen becomes a custodian of democracy and can help to build a more equitable, just and prosperous society, shaping the course of the nation and contributing to its collective future. Essentially, voting is not just a solemn duty but a profound privilege and a profound responsibility. It is an affirmation of the belief that every voice matters, that every vote counts, and that together, as a united and inclusive society, South Africa can overcome its challenges and realize its full potential. Therefore, let us honour the memory of the heroes and heroines of South Africa’s struggle for freedom by exercising our democratic right to vote. Let us stand together, in solidarity and determination, to build a brighter future for all South Africans. Let us vote for a political party that does less talking and takes more action, in providing housing and free healthcare amongst others, especially for the poor, and one that shows solidarity with oppressed people throughout the world, including those in Palestine.

The Laudium Sun appeals to each and every registered voter to vote in the forthcoming election – May 29. To those youth who have recently turned 18 and can vote for the first time, make sure that you do vote!

*Vote at the station where you are registered and make sure to take your bar-coded ID along with you.

*Polling stations will be open from 7am to 9pm on Wednesday (May 29).