Home Opinion and Features Voters prove our democracy is strong and robust – Ramaphosa

Voters prove our democracy is strong and robust – Ramaphosa

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This successful poll shows that our democracy is strong, that it is robust and that it endures, writes President Cyril Ramaphosa

Picture: Supplied

DEAR Fellow South African,

We have just held a successful general election. Last week, over 16 million citizens cast their votes at more than 23,000 voting stations across the country.

This was the most competitive election we have held since attaining democracy in 1994, with a record number of political parties on the ballot and independent candidates standing for the first time.

This election has been declared free and fair. It took place peacefully and without serious incidents of intimidation or violence. This is a credit to the Independent Electoral Commission, to the political parties and their leadership, and above all to the South African people.

By discharging this important civic duty, South Africans have done more than exercise their right to vote. They have shown that they continue to hold our democratic order and our Constitution in high regard.

This successful poll shows that our democracy is strong, that it is robust and that it endures.

This constitutional order is anchored in the rule of law, supported by institutions for advancing democracy, such as the Independent Electoral Commission, and upheld by an independent judiciary.

Since 1994 we have strived together to build a country that is democratic, prosperous and free, and this remains the defining mission of our nation. With us now having entered a new phase in our democratic journey, political parties will have to strive in earnest to find common ground as we work to rebuild our country.

Although every political party carries a mandate based on the commitments they made to the electorate, all parties share an over-arching mandate to build a country that is inclusive, united and prosperous.

This moment in our country calls for responsible leadership and constructive engagement. There can be no place for threats of violence or instability.

South Africans must stand firm against any attempts to undermine the constitutional order we have worked so hard to build, and for which so many struggled and sacrificed.

Whatever challenges we may face as political events unfold, they should be dealt with in a spirit of cooperation and in accordance with the prescripts of our Constitution and the rule of law.

Despite the mammoth logistical undertaking, and despite a number of challenges it faced, the Independent Electoral Commission once more acquitted itself with excellence, professionalism and integrity.

According to the results of the Election Satisfaction Survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the majority of voters surveyed expressed confidence in the IEC. Furthermore, the majority were also generally satisfied with the voting procedures, felt safe to cast their ballots in secrecy, and were confident that the election was free and fair.

Having achieved yet another milestone on our democratic journey, we should all take pride in our own contribution towards giving meaning to the values and principles of our constitutional democracy.

As we work as political parties to find each other across the divide in the coming weeks and months, let us demonstrate both in our actions and our utterances that we hold the Constitution and the rule of law to be paramount.

Let us remember that whatever authority, whatever power, we are entrusted with must be exercised to advance the interests of the South African people.

Now more than ever, we need to put our differences aside and work together for the common good.

With best regards,

Cyril Ramaphosa

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