Democracy doesn’t solve problems

DICTATORSHIP or democracy: does it matter?

I stopped reading newspapers some time ago, but I occasionally see headlines. One that caught my eye recently (on your letters page of February 18) tells us “ANC turning SA into dictatorship”.

The statement neither surprised nor worried me unduly. I didn’t read the letter.

I am among those who have always had grave reservations about democracy. Africa’s history over the last 60-odd years, parts of which I have experienced at first hand, has done nothing to develop my confidence in or respect for democracy.

There are countries and cultures which are ready for democracy, and within which democracy “works”. South Africa is not one of those.

Countries in which it doesn’t work, slide into one or other form of dictatorship.

Similarly with dictatorships: some work, others don’t. In this too, our country will prove to be one of those where it doesn’t work – if indeed dictatorship eventuates, which is certainly a possibility.

However it may stick in the modern, politically correct gullet, the fact is that the heyday, or heydays, of the African countries existed during, and largely because of, the much-vilified era of colonialism and minority rule. This of course is not to say that everything about that era or system was good.

As recently as last week I was talking to a black person in a senior position. She mentioned the recent state of the nation address and remarked that it was “highly embarrassing”, because “the whole world was watching”.

She went on to remark that “things were better in the old days”. I knew what she meant and I agreed with her.

South Africa’s problems have not been, and will not be, solved by democracy. Neither will they be solved by dictatorship. Sorry to sound a tad cynical.

-Sirion Robertson, Grahamstown

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