It meant, for the first time in our history, all citizens were equal in a multi-party democracy; all adult South Africans were now eligible to vote for a party of his or her choice, and everyone’s vote was equal.
Or so we all believed until a few years later when some people’s votes began to appear more equal than others’.
Let’s take you back to 2000, when former KZN premier S’bu Ndebele received news the ANC had just won the vote in eThekwini and announced a special message to those who failed to vote for the ruling party.
He bluntly told them they had wasted their votes because their councillors would have to turn to the ANC council if they wanted resources.
“To all the Africans, coloureds and Indians who voted DA, be warned that there’s going to be consequences for not voting for the ANC.
“When it comes to service delivery, we will start with the people who voted for us, and you will be last,” he told his cheering ANC supporters.
In other words, those who voted ANC would be first in line to get their roads tarred, their storm water drains repaired and houses built.
As for non-ANC voters, they were second class citizens who had to stand at the back of the queue.
Maybe it was just the euphoria of victory on Ndebele’s part, but many ratepayers feared they were being sidelined.
Sadly, that sentiment was echoed last week when, at a pre-election gathering in Reservoir Hills, the MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Ravi Pillay, was asked by a member of the audience: “Does our service delivery and ward suffer because our elected official is not from the ruling party?”
This was Pillay’s reported response: “I think you live with the consequences of your decision. You made a choice in 2016. Are you evaluating that choice? Did it work for you, or have you learnt your lesson?”
It wasn’t perhaps as straight-down-your-throat as Ndebele’s warning, but the message it conveyed nevertheless left little to doubt.
Which got me thinking: would Pillay have delivered that same response to an EFF-dominated crowd demanding better homes outside an informal settlement in uMlazi?
How would he have reacted had some DA MEC in the opposition-controlled Western Cape told ANC supporters there they must face the consequences of backing the “wrong” party?
My guess it was just a case of Pillay being carried away by election bravado, as I’ve always known him to be a reasonable and constructive leader, not given to tactless and abrasive language.
So let’s get together and work towards building a multi-party state in which the different parties seated in Parliament will be seen as representing the divergent views and preferences of all the people of our country.
Building our nation is our biggest priority.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.