IT appears to me that democracy (for the people, of the people, by the people) is fundamentally flawed, not so much in its design, but in its weave. All over the world we see separatism, riots, disillusion, malcontent and fragmentation permeating its essential integrity, no less so in our own country, South Africa.
It’s my contention that at the core of this disintegration of the most disingenuous of governing systems, is the cancerous idea that a president, not the party, is elected for four or five years, depending where democracy is practised. The concept of a four-year term, ergo, is based on a personality, not on a party, with the concomitant diametric result of creating a hegemony that masquerades as democracy.
We have in this country a precedent (Thabo Mbeki, who was removed from office prior to fulfilment of his term), which while in hindsight is mourned, is nevertheless fundamental to the principles of true democracy, in that performance or malfeasance of any kind at that level of office is not tolerated.
These same issues, whether they be in American, European, Asian or African democracies that continue year after year to sew at once mayhem, dissension, contention and fragmentation, are not dealt with in the structure of democratic governance, thus bringing into question the very fabric of freedom and peace (see Libya, Egypt, Ukraine, Algeria, et al). Whether it be George Bush or Jacob Zuma and all in between, these “leaders” are not democracy.
The people and the issues of election are democracy. Therefore (in the case of our own country) I propose an immediate constitutional reform: if a government cannot produce on 25% of its mandate in the first year of its reign, the president is booted out.
He, by virtue of leadership accountability, is ineffective. To be fair to the concept that mandates require more than 12 months to achieve their ends, another from the elected party is chosen to lead in his stead, to make good on the issues stated in the electoral platform.
Last, if the electoral issues do not comply with basic management criteria (time, method and resource), that party goes back to the drawing board and comes up with a management plan that passes muster that is agreed upon by the electorate or faces censure. (If anybody in South Africa wonders how this can be implemented, I’m deeply sorry for them.)
Democracy is not for animals, fish or birds. It is a system of government for people, by the people, of the people, with the proviso that the people are seen as also accountable to ensure the results promised by their chosen party.
This insurance is not gained in any way by protests, marches, riots or strikes, but by ensuring that the democratic structures are followed to the letter, none the more so than by the constitution and law.
For example, if a party’s electoral platform plans do not overtly state what, when and how, then it is not a party. It’s a soap box.
PS I’ve never seen a poorer state of the nation address than Zuma’s latest. One might be excused for thinking after the address that he was talking to the few inhabitants of Marion Island rather than a nation of 54 million people.
-Stanley Esterhuizen, Lovemore Park, Port Elizabeth