Democracy is in surprisingly good shape in SA given how little the folk who shape the national debate know about it or value it. A sign of how little a quarter century of democracy is understood or prized came last week when the Gauteng ANC marched to demand that e-tolls go. This prompted huge jollity in the media, regular and social, about the governing party “marching on itself”, a reaction that showed we have a working democracy, but not the democratic values in the mainstream that are meant to go with it. First, it ignored the fact that, in this country’s constitution, national and provincial government have different responsibilities: e-tolls are a national government decision. A provincial governing party that marches to influence its national equivalent is not “marching on itself”. It is protesting against a decision that is not within its power. Marching to make its point may be more democratic than lobbying because it takes the issue out of the back rooms and into the open....

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