South Africa is headed toward celebrating two decades of “FREEDOM”.
What have we got to show for it?
Most people will say that the freedom to vote, that came to many who had previously been denied, is something to be celebrated. However exercising a vote without full understanding of the process will set us back. Politicians will seduce the registered voter with promises, many of which will not be fulfilled. You will be told that once in every five years, South Africans vote for a Government of their choice (THIS IS NOT TOTALLY TRUE!). You are told and as it is displayed on many political party campaign posters; you are made to believe that you have the power to vote for a specific candidate to become president (THIS IS NOT TRUE!). The South African Constitution does not allow for registered voters to elect a President of the Republic during General National Elections; this is a previledge reserved for a few in the National Assembly. South Africans go to the polls to show support for a political party.
Paragraph 86 in Chapter 5 of the Constitution of the Republic (Act 108 of 1996) lays out the process of election of the President. The summary of which is that the President is elected by members of the National Assembly at its first sitting after General Elections. It is then the responsibility of the President to appoint a cabinet. That simply means that all Ministers including the Deputy President are a choice of one individual. When in anger and in protest, I have heard people complaining that they have voted for the President and his cabinet and now they demand that they should be accountable to them. What I believe and through what I have seen, the Government of South Africa is only “accountable” to a few in the National Assembly. It is this flaw in the electoral model that makes politicians feel that they can operate as they please without consequence because their fellow members in parliament will support and protect them.
Pre and post elections, I believe that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) should take full responsibility to educate the masses about their rights and the process of elections.
At some point in the past, a commission was setup to investigate another electoral model. Since the release of the report, I have read what most experts have had to say on the matter. Many believe that the current model is ideal for South Africa because the ordinary registered voter is not sofisticated enough to understand other models. These are people who have now decided that we lack the mental aptitude to make such “complex” decisions that pertain to our future. This is then supported by politicians and somehow we are not ever given an opportunity to make this decision by majority vote in a referendum.
Ignoring plebeians and always assuming that they will come out of slumber once every five years to support a few is not only dissapointing but also insulting. The concept of an alliance of unions with a political party that is represented in the majority, both in the National Assembly and also in Cabinet is also confusing. How do they reconcile their responsibilities to their members against the aspirations of a political party to win at the polls? It is again, my opinion that many union members will be sacrificed at times to advance political aspirations. Another trend has emerged since the massacre at Marikana; workers are now taking a stance against major unions because they feel ill-represented. These are the very people who are thought not-educated enough to understand complex electoral models. They are now taking decisions that will shake unions at their foundations.
First it is asserted that South Africans should portray interest in the country and recently there is talk of active citizenry toward 2030. This call is however frustrated by actions of politicians sidelining ordinary people and treating them with contempt. Lest they learn from our friends in the north of us, an “Arab Spring” might just be headed our way. Our loyalty is not their right!
Our President has requested that people should stop speaking I’ll of South Africa; to which I implore him to keep that ammunition out of reach.
–Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker & Life Coach)–
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