Voting in public representatives is a unique opportunity for you, as a member of our community to engage, debate and decide who best will represent your views, fulfil the organisation’s mandate or provide a voice of reason, support or difference.
In Cape Town, we are in a unique and fortunate situation where, through the Cape SAJBD public ballot, a third of these representatives are voted for by the public while the remaining positions are voted for by delegates of affiliate organisations.
It is testament to an engaged community and to the relevance of our organisation that in 2020, we have two contested ballots. We are currently in the throes of the public ballot election and the conference ballot will take place on 6 September. We wish all the candidates the best of luck.
Although the elections are managed and overseen exclusively by the independent electoral commission in accordance with the electoral regulations, I have, in my capacity as Chairman of the Cape SAJBD, been made aware of the tensions and negative electioneering coming from various sectors of the community. Both the formal complaints received by the commission as well as the counter campaigns circulating run contrary to the values of a communal election and should stop. These personal challenges and collective labelling are not in the spirit of strengthening the community.
We live in a special but small community. We have generally prided ourselves on cohesion and collaboration. This does not necessarily translate into a singular view, practice, identity or belief, nor should it. A vibrant community is built on a range of views and opinions. But for a community to be called a community it should, in my opinion, be based on principles of respect for others and an acknowledgement that others are entitled to contrary views to the ones I may share.
So, please, delve into the 8 candidates who have put up their hand for the 5 positions on the public ballot and analyse the 12 people who are challenging each other for the remaining 10 seats. Explore what each of them stands for and analyse their bios and videos. Engage, question and even challenge them.
As an extract of the Code of Conduct of the Electoral Regulations states:
“Participants in the election process must accord the right to others to:
a) freely express their beliefs and opinions;
b) challenge and debate the beliefs and opinions of others; and
c) canvass support for a candidate.
Participants in the election process must not:
a) use language or act in a way that may provoke violence or intimidation of other candidates, supporters or voters;
b) make defamatory allegations in connection with or about other candidates, supporters or voters;…”
These rules should guide us in respectful electioneering and engagement while enabling a competitive election process underpinned with the values of a community election.
My plea is this: Let’s not cross the line.