The dissatisfaction and widespread displeasure with the present President of South Africa has raised questions regarding the nature of democracy practiced in the country.
Brigalia Bam, a former Independent Electoral Commission chairperson says South Africa’s democracy is impaired as long as the decision to fire a President remains in the hands of five people.
Bam said the present system was alright in the beginning of democracy, but opined that it ought to have evolved. A new system is needed in the country for election, South Africa will have to find a system that’s more appropriate.
“You cannot run a democratic state where key decisions of firing a president are made by five people, because it is in the hands of the party. The people who went to fire Thabo Mbeki were five,” she said.
To her, the current system was appropriate in 1994 and the subsequent year because people didn’t know the parties and leaders. “..There were no system for us to communicate, so we had to rely on the parties to choose people for us,” she explained.
But that, Bam said, left South Africa with a system that hands excessive power to the ruling party. She pointed out that the opposition could scream all they like, and say all the right things but would only be wasting their time because the decision makers in all parties are the top six.
“Judging by public opinion now, people want him (President Jacob Zuma) to go, but the party position is he must stay, so he stays,” Bam added.
With the forgoing, she called for a system that allows South Africans decide who’s to be their representatives in wards and municipalities instead of the usual practice of the party choosing someone to represent the people.
According to her, the ward councilors are only scared of their party’s big shots and not the residents they work for.
“…Let this person be accountable to the ward, be scared of them and respect them…It shouldn’t matter which party put you there, you should be accountable to us, in a ward,” she stated.