Why our democracy simply isn’t democratic enough
We read with disappointment how supposed watchdog leaders hogged headlines for two successive weeks – for all the wrong reasons.
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Traditionally it’s the governing party that’s found wanting when it comes to being caught with their hands in the till – rarely the opposition leaders.
That’s because we always expected the opposition to be the ones who lead the charge to hold the government to account.
They are the ones who shout the loudest when the party in power fails the electorate and always demand the best for the those who elected them into government.
The events of the past few weeks, when leaders of the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, the two main opposition parties, were found on the wrong side of ethical conduct, have dented confidence in them.
We read with disappointment how watchdog leaders hogged headlines for two successive weeks – for all the wrong reasons.
An alleged gift of a car from the controversial former Steinhoff chief executive officer Markus Jooste and a donated-cum-rented house for the DA’s Mmusi Maimane.
An expensive car allegedly bought with money stolen from the poor via a VBS bank looting spree and a Gupta-styled wedding for the EFF’s second-in-charge, Floyd Shivambu.
While “Mr Clean” Maimane surprised many with the “rented” car and house, the same cannot be said of the EFF, which was corrupt even before it was born: its very establishment was bankrolled by a man associated with illicit cigarette trading where tax dodging was the norm.
Added to that, EFF leader Julius Malema’s tenderpreneurship escapades in Limpopo are well recorded.
They may have denied, as could be expected, but that does not change the public perception that they are as corrupt as the ANC they always criticise.
With these accusations hanging over their heads, you get a clear impression that, once given power, they would abuse it like the ANC has been doing for so long.
Indications are that the ongoing corruption by government would be nothing compared with what it would be under the EFF should it assume power in years to come.
I am not sure if the DA will ever get power, looking at how its support dropped in the May election after enjoying a steady rise in successive elections since 1994.
The main opposition parties may not be in power in the true sense of the word, but they hold shadow power. Their leaders are influential in their constituencies and their members listen to and do what those leaders say.
Besides, their salaries and perks are funded by the taxpayer and so is their constituency work and election campaigns.
Accountability should not only be confined to the governing party, but all political parties.
All the opposition leaders should be held to the highest standards of accountability in the same manner as the president of the country.
We can also blame the current party list-based electoral system used to elect public representatives since 1994. In terms of the proportional representation system, which all the major parties support, except smaller ones like Cope, elected members do not account to the electorate but their respective political parties.
This country needs to get rid of this system and allow one where the voters will decide who must be elected and form a government.
Those same voters would decide to remove those they feel are not doing what they want – and that is democracy.
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