UNIVERSITY of Johannesburg vice-chancellor and principal Professor Ihron Rensburg has called for “the establishment of a new social contract with the people” to ensure the future of South Africa’s democracy.
Rensburg, delivering the annual South End Museum (SEM) George Botha Memorial lecture, said the “incapacity of the state to scale up rapidly in its [service] delivery capability” served as an indication that the government was doing “poorly”.
In his lecture titled “Our Democratic Consolidation @ Risk? Bringing the ‘P’ Back into Politics”, Rensburg outlined threats to the deepening of democracy, including poverty and corruption.
“The widening poverty, inequality, the widening of corruption and the state becoming a veritable feeding trough of the old and the new elite [which act] in cahoots with factions and tender facilitators, concerns of media freedom and the sustaining of an open society, factionalism within the ruling party … and declining trust and optimism amongst our people put at great risk the consolidation or deepening of our democracy.”
Rensburg said South Africa’s democracy was “at a fork in the road” with the first path leading to a “failed democracy with the state dominated at the core by the elite” and the other path leading to the deepening of democracy.
The memorial lecture is held in honour of Paterson High School biology teacher George Botha who died in the custody of security police in 1976.