Black Tuesday, as it was known in South Africa, came and went and even my wearing of a black shirt on the day could not call government to apply reason to their proposed “Secrecy Bill” which has been approved and it will be enacted into parliament soon. Many ask, what does thismean and every person with some sort of platform has rendered an opinion. Some of which to me stinks of ignorance, racism and even worse radical comments onboth sides of the scale. Now we see our well read leader Mr. Malemacalling on regulation for the Media, why the aggressive attack on the Media?
Some see the “Secrecy Bill” as a victory for black businessmen victimised by white colonial media. How, my little mind cannot comprehend, as the act seeks to protect government officials and so called secrets. Some see it as the death of democracy in South Africa. How can onesingle act like this assassinate a democracy that so many fought, suffered and died for? Firstly I one has to ascertain the true meaning of democracy.
U.S. president Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”. Winston Churchill opinion said: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect oral-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. So in simple terms democracy is the right of the people to elect a government of their choice and to be governed, not ruled, by civil servants that are answerable to the people of the country.
In South Africa we have seen the quick death of the civil servant. Municipal workers, government officials (junior to senior)and ministers have conveniently forgotten their title of civil servant. The new term is Emperor. Once employed in government you are the boss, no one to answer to and the public are mere puppets to you and your senior’s will and whims. It seems as if government officials have only one goal or aspiration: To have a job senior enough to be able to manage tenders. Who can blame them, it is the most lucrative job in SA.
So how does this secrecy bill destroy democracy?
It kills governments necessity to be accountable to its people, it allows officials to operate their corrupt business activities with impunity. It fosters and promotes secrets in a society that should be transparent and open. It gives government the ability to limit press freedom,to control mass media and to silence critics with one simple piece of correspondence. It empowers the strong to abuse the weak and hide behind a 20foot wall with little to no risk. It effectively employs the wolf to protect the sheep and it is a travesty for a country that was once seen as the beacon of democracy.
Why is the Media so important for democracy? In every open democracy the one common denominator is Freedom of Speech and an active and critical media. Media allows even the most uninvolved citizen access to information about what his/her government is doing. It can be argued and proven that no democracy can exist without a free media.
I am disappointed, estranged and bewildered by the fact that my country is showing more and more of the characteristics of communist and military state. To see more and more that the government careless for its weak and its poor than for the corrupt and the evil. My opinion aside, let’s leave this post with a quote by one of the world’s biggest icons of democracy and peace.
"Press Freedom will never be under threat in South Africa as long as the ANC is the majority party." Nelson Mandela