As South African democracy matures, the petition has come to play a more prominent role, even if only on the margins. Occasionally they are driven by civil society but for the most part it is the opposition — specifically the Democratic Alliance — that uses them to highlight a particular issue. Most recently, the DA used a petition to gather a million signatures ahead of the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, in support of the call that he be removed from office. It has followed that up with another petition, calling for early "emergency" elections; and yet another one, defending their mayor, Herman Mashaba, who faces his own motion of no confidence in the Johannesburg City Council.These are examples of what one might call "political" petitions, generated by a political party to further its particular political agenda. But there have been other significant examples of more civic-minded petitions. Back in 2008 a private citizen, Bob Glenister, organised a petition to pr...

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