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Pride in our team, pride in our democracy

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
At the time of writing, we are less than a day away from South Africa’s sixth national and provincial elections since the transition to democracy, which means that by the time this week’s issue comes out, vote counting will already be taking place.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | May 09, 2019

Whatever the result, it will be a victory for democracy in our country, one of the few on the African continent where free and fair elections regularly take place. Hopefully, it will mark the beginning of a positive new era for South Africa as a new government gets down to the nitty-gritty of addressing the many pressing issues confronting it.

Election Day will be the culmination of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD’s) #MakeUsCount pre-election awareness and education campaign. Our interfaith and multinational observer team is monitoring proceedings at polling stations throughout the country, including in the rural areas.

This time round, the team consists of a record 230 volunteers, again representing a broad spectrum of different faith groups and nationalities. In addition to observing the voting to ensure that everything is above board, it is tasked with assisting the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in such ways as supervising the delivery of ballot boxes and opening the polls, helping to resolve problems at polling stations, and ensuring that counting begins on time.

We are delighted by the continued success of our team initiative, and proud of how it shows our relatively small community taking the lead in this example of participatory democracy. Looking ahead, we need to find ways to involve ourselves in our country’s political culture, political affairs, just as many members of our community have done in bygone years. In this way, we empower ourselves while following in the footsteps of the many Jews who have contributed to our political culture over generations.

More Gaza violence

Whereas this year marks a quarter of a century since South Africa negotiated a peaceful transition from repressive minority rule to all-inclusive democracy, a negotiated settlement between Israel and its neighbours seems as far away as ever.

Over the weekend, Hamas unleashed yet another deadly missile barrage, bringing the region to the brink of war once again. In a joint statement, the board and South African Zionist Federation called on the South African government to condemn rocket attacks on Israel unequivocally.

In order for our country to be a true role player on the world stage, we said, the government needs to speak out clearly in situations when such blatant acts of aggression are perpetrated, whether by Palestinians or anyone else. So long as Hamas is rewarded with a propaganda victory every time it instigates conflict, it will persist in this perverted policy. Hence, those who genuinely have the interests of Palestinians at heart should lay the blame for the ongoing suffering and destruction at the door of those truly responsible.

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM, every Friday from 12:00 to 13:00.

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