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Election season – 2010

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We are back in the election season to elect a government to serve us for the next five years. It is an important time in our lives because this is the time when we come into contact with the candidates, one of whom will be your representative. This is the time when democracy appears to be working, a democracy that was obtained since 1951 when Universal adult Suffrage was obtained.{{more}}

Two party system?

Our system has been regarded as a two-party system, but sometimes we do have an independent candidate or a third party in the general election. But when all is said and done, we end up with a party in power and one in opposition that will carry out the business of the people in Parliament.

The campaign

Today, elections are expensive affairs and parties expend large amounts of money to get their messages across. The competition is fierce on radio, television, and loud speakers. It is seen on the streets in the slogans, huge billboards and electronic displays. The Internet carries party messages far and wide, while vehicles loaded with speakers and sometimes dancers take it to the villages and towns. Never before has there been such flamboyant display – the red, the yellow and sometimes the green t-shirts become part of the landscape as party supporters make their choices known. The mass meetings, held periodically not only for the messages, but for the entertainment to hold party supporters together. But if you did not attend, you would be sure to hear about it, for you would see perhaps the whole show or snippets on television and you would also see a whole spread in the newspapers. Sometimes the rivalry becomes vocal as party faithful accuse the others of wrongdoing. The quarrel spills over to the newspapers for all to know. It always ends with the party leader giving a press conference. This is the campaign that is familiar to us, but do we always get the message?

What about you?

As a voter, do not be distracted by the hype. You have a decision to make that will affect your life for the next five years. You have to exercise care. Have an open mind and listen to messages on all sides. Be sure to get the manifesto of each party to know what is being offered. Observe the candidates to learn whether they are committed to their promises or not. It might appear to be a difficult task, but you would not want to make a bad decision. You do not have to tell any one about the candidate of your choice. On Election Day you go to the polls and make your choice. A private area is provided for you to cast your vote.

First time voters

As a first time voter you have entered the world of adult suffrage. It is a new phase and you are treading on unfamiliar territory. I know you would be attracted to the entertainment, but make sure you listen to the messages from the parties to see who would serve you better.

An appeal

I am appealing for restraint among supporters of all parties. Respect the other person as you expect them to respect you. Do not use brute force on any one. Remain calm. Your country needs you. Be responsible and vote according to your conscience. Make this election violence free.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]