With the election date so close, what can local media can do to assist voters? Although this election is about choosing men and women to represent voters in the provincial and national law-making bodies, the campaigning leading up to the election-day affects all levels of government including local government.
Twenty-three million decision-makers
There are a total of 172 political parties registered in this coming election. Of these, 133 are registered to contest nationally and the rest contest only in provinces. So on Wednesday 22nd April, 23 million registered voters will be queuing from early in the morning in different voting stations spread across the country to make a decision as to which party to represent them in the provincial and national legislatures.
Party election manifestos
Most voters take the decision as to which party to vote for on the basis of what the party says it will do once it gets it gets the mandate of the voters. Political parties use election manifestos as a platform of what they would like to do and the kinds of laws they would like to introduce once they are elected.
Therefore the local media could assist voters if and when it provides them with useful information so that they make informed decisions about which party would best represent their interests and address their concerns.
The key issues that are hotly contested in this election seem to be the following:
• Health-HIVand AIDS
• Economy and Social Spending
• Foreign Policy
• Energy, Ecology and Environment
• Affirmative Action and BEE
• Rural Development
• Agriculture and Land Reform
• Party Funding
• Arms Deal
Follow-up and story ideas
• Study all the manifestos of all the political parties contesting in your municipal area for provincial and national elections. And then write or produce a comparative article or story on what each party says it will do on each of the above-mentioned areas.
• Organise and facilitate public debates between representatives of the contesting political parties. You could do this in partnership with a local partner.
Some useful Websites for more information:
Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC): http://www.elections.org.za
South African Local Government Association (SALGA): http://www.salga.net
Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG): http://www.dplg.gov.za