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Empowering rural communities through political engagement

───   ROBYN SCHUTTE 12:16 Thu, 01 Feb 2024

Empowering rural communities through political engagement | News Article
Photo: Getty Images

Disillusionment is prevalent among rural populations, who have witnessed repeated promises go unfulfilled, casting doubt on the efficacy of the political machinery.

Dr.  Harlan Cloete, an advocate for rural empowerment, has issued a call to action for voters nationwide, emphasising the critical importance of voter registration and participation, particularly among farm workers and rural dwellers.

He said rural areas continue to grapple with entrenched poverty, with farm dwellers bearing the brunt of socio-economic disparities. Despite the initiatives launched since the inception of the 1994 projects, rural transformation remains elusive, revealing systemic shortcomings within the political system.” 

While numerous campaigns strive to educate and rally communities for voter registration, Cloete acknowledged the persistent oversight of rural concerns by politicians. He emphasised the need for rural communities to mobilise and exert pressure on local municipalities to address their grievances effectively.

‘Rural residents possess the means to engage with local councils’

Exploring the concept of participatory democracy, Cloete underscored its potential to foster governance at the grassroots level. Despite challenges in accessing higher tiers of government, rural residents possess the means to engage with local councils and ward committees. 

He lamented the prevalence of dysfunctional committees, urging for their revitalisation to enable meaningful democratic participation, and urges rural residents to hold their representatives accountable and advocate for enhanced service delivery to uphold the principles of democracy.

With final voter registration taking place this weekend (3-4/2), Cloete is convinced that by registering to vote, actively participating in elections, and advocating for substantive change, rural residents can drive forward the agenda for sustained rural transformation and equitable governance.

OFM Agri/Robyn Schutte dg

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