An African National Congress flag. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH/PHILLIP NOTHNAGEL
An African National Congress flag. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH/PHILLIP NOTHNAGEL

It is frequently trumpeted here that SA achieved its much-vaunted democracy in 1994. But what we actually have is a bastardised version in which political parties are elected that then appoint their party faithful to advance the interests of the party. The interests of the people do not feature.

We have lived with this unfortunate version of democracy for 26 years now, and one doesn’t need to be an intellectual to see how dismally it has failed, and continues to fail, the people who are supposed to be served by democracy.

It may be true that people can vote, that more of the disadvantaged have sanitation, running water and electricity and freedom of association, but what about the soaring levels of unemployment, the increasing numbers of shack dwellers, and the downhill slide — if not downright failure — of our education, health and policing institutions? And our dismally performing or failed state-owned entities and local government structures that are riddled with corruption and wallowing in previously unheard of depths of debt?

The unhappy truth is that the problem lies in the structure of the governing party, with its heritage of communism and background of using the trade unions to support its “national democratic revolution” initiatives. Before 1994 they had no other voice, but now it is the largely discredited communist ideology and a perceived need to appease the unions that is driving the government.

That widely accepted philosophy of government of the people by the people and for the people is nowhere to be seen, and it is these very people who are bearing the consequences of the government’s wholesale failure.

Geoff Mansell

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