Sunday, March 05, 2006

What is wrong with our voters?

Why is it that in a country that boasts of a Christian majority of about 70%, we cannot get a Christian party to even get close to becoming the official opposition never mind actually winning an election?
The ACDP came into existence before the 1994 general elections in 1993 as a voice for Christians in South African politics. However, it seems that the Christians of this country do not want a Christian voice in government.
We've had 3 general elections (GE) since 1994 and 2 local government elections (LGE). The percentage of votes the ACDP has garnered in these elections are as follows:
1994 -  GE      - 0.45%
1999 -  GE      - 1.43%
2000 - LGE      - 1.14%
2004 -  GE      - 1.60%
2006 - LGE      - 1.24%
Those Christians who have voted for the ACDP in these elections have all asked the question: "Why don't more Christians vote for the ACDP?"
The fact is that the majority of Christians vote for the two leading parties of our country, the ANC (African National Congress) and the DA (Democratic Alliance).
The reasons for this are certainly multifaceted and I would like to look at a few reasons here.
1. Historical Voting
In my opinion, South African politics are still divided along racial lines, even though these lines are somewhat blurry at times. I am not saying that the parties mentioned here are only black or only white. Yet, when we look at them the one is predominantly black while the other is predominantly white!
The fact that the ANC got 66.34% of the votes can simply mean that the votes that they are getting are historical votes instead of votes based on knowledge. In the months running up to the elections there have been many riots and marches against what the people felt was bad service delivery. People have publicly complained about the poor service delivery by the ANC. However, once it was time to vote they simply voted for the ANC! To me this can only point one way: historical voting.
It is now 12 years since the first so-called democratic elections in 1994 when the ANC won to take over the rule of South Africa. The masses saw the ANC as liberators then, and they still see them that way. The black people of this country mostly vote for the ANC.
On the other hand we have the official opposition, the DA. After what most whites saw as a sell-out to communistic forces and a crushing defeat in the 1994 general elections, the NP (National Party) started losing ground to other parties. The NP was the ruling party of south Africa from 1948 to 1994. In the 1994 elections the NP only got a third of the votes of what the ANC received. These elections were definitely along racial lines.
Although, at this point the NP still got more votes than the DP (Democratic Party - which was to become the DA later on), but by 1999 the DP got 9.56% of the votes and the now NNP (New National Party) only got 6.87%. This simply meant the end of the NP. This also meant that the DP/DA became the official opposition party. At the 2004 GE the DA had 12.37% of the vote while the NNP dwindled to 1.65%. With the 2006 LGE the DA garnered 14.77% of the vote and the NNP was not anywhere to be seen. The DA solidified itself as the opposition. The DA has now become the historical vote of the white people as they see the DA as the only hope for whites in a country where black people rule.
Because of the historical voting of black people for the ANC, white people have come to see the DA as the only way to stave off the "onslaught" of the coming communistic regime of the ANC.
2. Lack of Knowledge
Polls have consistently shown that South Africans are against the big issues such as abortion, pornography, same-sex marriage, etc. Polls have also shown that a majority of people in this country are Christian. However, they keep voting for the ANC or the DA. In order to see what these two parties stand for on these big issues one simply can go to the Biblical Issues Voters' Guide 2006.
When the Constitution was created in 1996, both the ANC and the DA voted to eliminate the phrase "in humble submission to Almighty God." Both the ANC and the DA voted for abortion on demand. The ANC as well as the DA are open to the rights of the homosexual lifestyle. The question remains: How far will they push that envelope?
The fact is that if Christians knew what these two parties stood for, they might have voted for the ACDP. The day after the elections I spoke to a lady that voted for the ACDP. However, she did say that she did not know what the ACDP stands for! This, I believe, is true of most voters in this country. People vote for parties without actually knowing the principles of those parties.
There are, of course, those that say that we should vote for the DA to keep the opposition strong. They claim that we should not divide the opposition. However, the ANC and the DA are so close to each other when it comes to the big issues, why replace the one with the other if the are so similar anyhow? Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know! Actually, in this case we know both!
3. Lack of Commitment from the Church
If South Africa has a majority of Christians and the church is such a force to be reckoned with, I must say, it is escaping my notice! I certainly cannot see it in these elections!
I have heard it from too many churches, "We cannot tell our people who to vote for!" The fact is that no one can tell anyone else who to vote for. However, having said that, I don't want our church leaders to be silent on the matter either!
The church is forever preaching about the fact that Christians should get involved in every area of life..., except "politics" of course! From the church's response during the campaign period before the elections, it is clear that they do not believe that we should be involved in politics or that the people in the church should be guided on this issue.
The church does believe that we should be part of the solution of creating a better world for our children to live in; however, when they get the opportunity of standing up in the political realm for a Christian party strongly guided by Biblical principles, they drop the ball and lose the game! It is at times like this that we can truly see whether the church is really serious about what they believe or not. "Oh, we do not want to offend the people in the church that vote for other parties!" Yeah, yeah! I have heard that before. It simply means that the church is ambivalent on the issues that matter. They continue preaching pop-sermons every week, trying to make people feel all good about themselves, while the country goes down the drain. I cannot say that I have heard one sermon since 2001 at my own church that deals with the big issues. It is truly a shame!
Feel-good sermons are at the order of the day while a Biblical worldview is completely lost on church members! It is time that the church starts preaching a Biblical worldview from the pulpit and stop pussy-footing around the big issues! How is it that the church is willing to guide its people in everything, yet when it comes to politics it turns out to be totally clueless?
Who decided that the church is not supposed to speak on political issues from the pulpit? This is simply being "politically correct!" The Bible is full of political issues. Justice for all is strewn across the pages of the Bible from beginning to end.
If we look at how the church dealt with the big issues in the past, then the modern church is blatant in its lack of any given stand!
"In the pagan Roman Empire, abortion was freely practiced, but Christians took a stand against it. In 314 the Council of Ancyra barred from the taking of the Lord's Supper for ten years all who procured abortions or made drugs to further abortions. Previously the Synod of Elvira (305-306) had specified excommunication till the deathbed for these offenses." (Francis Schaeffer, How Should we Then Live?, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 50th L'Abri Anniversary Edition, 2005, p222)
Voting to put people like this in power would probably have incurred a similar ban by the church.
To say that the church does not get involved in politics is to say that it does NOT care about the people of the country. We are to ensure a good future for our children. Yet, when it comes to politics the church does not care less.
So, what should the ACDP be doing for the next elections in 2009?
The ACDP should develop a long term plan that will accomplish at least 2 things:
1. Make the ACDP more visible and more prominent. Many people do not know what the ACDP is doing in communities to uplift them. Most people do not even know what the ACDP stands for!
2. Educate people in terms of what the ACDP stands for, how to choose a political party according to Biblical principles and expose the ungodly principles of other parties.
The battle starts now!
Just thinking...


Mark Humphreys said...

I totally agree with you...I posted this article in the discussion forum of on 02/03/06 and it seems to echo your thoughts about the elections albeit from a slightly less intellectual point of view.

I was totally amazed yesterday during the voting process.

Standing in a queue waiting to vote a member of the station staff came to check the barcodes in our ID books to ensure we were registered at that voting station. The white couple behind us didn't have their ID books, hadn't registered and caused a huge commotion when they were told they couldn't vote. I believe it is a privilege to live in a democratic country that allows you to vote - the least we can do is follow the necessary procedures that enable us to fullfil this privilege! It seems that there are still a few people out there who think the world, the government & even God owes them a huge 'thank you' for condescending to live in this country - I really do not understand people sometimes...

On returning home, we asked Flora and her husband Albert if they had voted - "they hadn't, they weren't going to..." they are very disillusioned with the government's lack of delivery on the promises they made and the state of the country in general. When we explained that not voting doesn't really help and that a positive vote for somebody else would get the message of discontent across a lot quicker and better, it was like talking to a brick wall - no comprehension of the electoral process.

It seems to me that there is still a dire need for the comprehensive education of the man in the street of just how the electoral process works - just knowing when to vote doesn't really cut it.

[Hypothetically speaking, would an election in SA be deemed 'free & fair' if 50% of the 60% that voted were unaware of the power of their vote? I think not, but there is no way to measure this... A truly democratic election should be measured by the pride and belief the individual has in his/her vote to change the system rather than the actual main event being 'procedurally correct' and 'democratic'. Would we be fooling ourselves into thinking that we live in a truly democratic country if the majority of the population are voting according to previous choices: white for white/black for black? I'm sorry, that's just making 'apartheid' democratic - majority rule, thanks for coming but the status quo prevails!]

Of all my African friends and acquaintances, a good 80% were going to vote ANC because it was an 'African' party - despite 100% of them voicing discontent about un-met promises, service delivery etc... All (100%) of my white friends and acquaintances were going to vote for anyone else except the ANC! If my small 'poll' (+/- 60 people) was indicative of the national thought process - we are in a lot of trouble, folks!

Please don't think I'm against the process of democracy (1 man, 1 vote) - I'm not, I truly believe that a democratic society is vital for national unity and ownership - but an uninformed cross on a ballot paper still gets counted... I believe it would be better if individual people stood up to be counted because of their belief not only their allegiance.

William Dicks said...

Thanks for your comment Mark!

South Africa is still far from understanding the democratic process. In the mean time, that process is being hoodwinked by the ruling party (ANC) that is in charge of the process. However, that is besides the point.

We need an edcucational process in this country when it comes to voting that has no par anywhere else!

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin