Picture: CONSTITUTION HILL
Picture: CONSTITUTION HILL

It is hard to imagine how SA’s problems can be resolved when the comprehension of what the problems actually are appears to be quite tangential, as articulated by Prof Steven Friedman (Stop blaming Constitution, start electing right leaders, October 4).

Whichever way you look at it, at the centre of all the problems in SA is the Constitution — coupled with the mind-set of South African citizens. All constitutions are designed on the assumption that people who are elected to office will be people of integrity, although mechanisms to manage the risk in case the opposite proves true, are included.

What is bad about SA’s Constitution is that it protects those who become office bearers in case of indiscretion. This is because they come to hold office at the behest of the party they belong to. What happens to them in case of an act of indiscretion is a matter for the party.

This has led to office bearers committing gross transgressions, even of the very Constitution, without having a whiff of conscience and confident of being protected by the party — especially if that party has a majority in Parliament.

The majority vote is used to thwart any attempt to fire an office bearer, regardless of the seriousness of the indiscretion committed. The behaviour of the speaker is an excellent example, enabling members of the executive to avoid answering questions in attempts to hold them to account.

The citizens are not only shut out but are not afforded instruments with which to hold to account those who hold office. It remains a puzzle how the Constitution allows decisions that affect an entire population to be made only by people serving at the behest of a party.

It is not communities that are represented in Parliament but "tribes" called political parties, where the welfare of a tribesman (comrade) is of paramount concern rather than that of the citizenry as a whole.

Our Constitution and proportional representation electoral system makes it possible that some communities may not have an MP from their area, while a number of MPs may come from only a few areas. It is therefore puzzling that the needs of communities are said to be represented in Parliament.

Dr Kenosi MosalakaeHoughton

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