Student on Politics
By Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi
After the lengthy and controversial amendments to the Constitution of the Student Body, the past fortnight saw the advent of the SRC elections in full force. As always, campus was littered with multicoloured campaigns of a handful of students urging us to vote them into their respective positions. We had everything from enormous posters plastered on Eden Grove walls to electronic mail sent via various listservs clogging up our inboxes. By the time this column goes to print, we’ll all know who got the positions and who didn’t, coupled with much speculation as to why.
The question that bears asking however, is whether we voted and, more importantly, how we voted. I was quite disheartened to hear a vast number of students saying that they’d be voting (if at all) based on the campaigns people pitched as opposed to what they were advocating. As it stands, Rhodents are extremely apathetic when it comes to matters of student representation as was made evident inter alia by the need to lower quorum from 40% of the student body to 33.3%. I am not going to get into a lengthy dissertation about student apathy. I will, however, ask whether Rhodents are mature and responsible voters.
If anything, we’ve come to consider the democratic process a little more than a joke. We vote for the faces we see most often or for the biggest and funniest campaigns. Not very many of us bother to even read the manifestos or take part in the grazzles.Instead, we prefer to vote for the first face we see on the online ballot sheets. If we want the competent and accountable SRC we’ve been demanding all year, shouldn’t we be making wellinformed decisions about the kind of people we’re electing into those offices?
“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve” writes George Bernard Shaw. If we are going to be so careless with our votes, our voices, then we deserve little more than an incompetent and unrepresentative SRC.
I think it is important that we be serious when we choose our representation. The way we vote now gives an indication of how we will vote on future occasions. Our future decisions will present far graver consequences for more people than our SRC elections do for the Rhodes Community. Living in a country founded on the value of universal adult suffrage, as responsible, educated adults, I believe that we should feel duty-bound to exercise our right to vote into office those people who we feel are competent enough to represent us and what we believe in. Unless, of course, we believe in ensuring a measure of chaos in the SRC, as one of the Societies Councillor candidates does.