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Bongani Mahlangu
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Zuma CANNOT be accountable to South Africans

15 November 2012, 15:44

Zuma cannot be accountable to South Africans

While many South Africans queue on long queues every 5 years to make that special mark on the ballot paper during the National Elections, where they hope that they will be choosing their governance, many have no idea that they have no direct involvement or influence in ensuring good governance or even holding the government into account. That is left to the political parties in the National assembly to scream it out, effectively or not depending on the capabilities of the political parties.

Chapter 5, Section 86 (1) of the Constitution of South Africa states that the National Assembly at its first sitting after the election elects from its members the President of South Africa. Section 91 and 93 of the same Chapter states that, the President himself/herself would then appoint the Deputy President, the Ministers and the Deputy Ministers to serve in the Cabinet and he/she can also dismiss them. The Deputy President, the Minister and the Deputies can only act or function as instructed by the President.

The question on may ask is, what is the role of the South African voters in electing a President and the Cabinet? The answer would be NONE! The voters only elect the party that will be in power1and that is it. Their job is done and they must go home and watch as things unfold in Parliament with the party-elect take decisions for them as to who will rule the country, the deputy and the entire Cabinet.

Therefore who is really electing the President of the Country? Currently it will be the 4500 or so delegates that will be converging in Mangaung to re-elect JG Zuma to be the President of the ANC for the second term with a hope that South African eligible voters will vote for their party comes 2014.  Only 0.01% of the country’s population will be deciding on the future of the entire country without compromising.

The way the South African election system is drawn-up in the Constitution, it then makes it difficult for South Africans to hold any of the Cabinet members into account. As long as there is a one sided majority in Parliament no one can hold the ruling party and its President accountable. If one party, like the ANC today, has more that 60% majority in Parliament, there is no way that a motion of no confidence could even be passed on the President or his Cabinet  by 2/3 majority of the National Assembly as per Chapter 5 of the Constitution.

While the Cabinet holds such power, there is another position of influence in the National Assemble that can hold more power and determines whether democracy and freedom or dictatorship prevails in the National Assembly and that position is the Speaker of the National Assembly. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are also elected by the National Assembly with names provided by party representatives in the National Assembly. The ruling party at the time, with the majority of the votes will overpower whoever is not from their side as it is in the case of Nomaindia Mfeketo. The Speaker or Deputy Speaker can act in his/her own judgment and disrupt or improve the operations of the National Assembly and more unfortunately can block any advances by members of the National Assembly to hold the President and the Cabinet members accountable just like how Nomaindia Mfeketo is currently doing in the National Assembly.

Can we then speak of democracy in our country? No! We are dictated by the ruling party as to who will be the President and the President dictates who will be in his/her Cabinet. The ruling party can do whatever they wand and elect whomever that would suit their needs and not necessarily the needs of South Africa.

It is then impossible for South Africans to hold President JG Zuma responsible and accountable for South Africans. After all he is accountable to the party and the 4500 people that elected him. This also applies to the Speaker and the Deputy, while the Cabinet members would careless about being accountable to the people as it is the case with Angie Motshekga and others who are not accountable to the voters but the President who has ensured that the get the high positions and the perks that comes with those positions.

This is why we as the Congress of the People Youth Movement continue to call for the reform of the elective system of the country that deprives the people of South Africa the chance to be involved in ensuring that their representatives in Parliament represent their views and that the people of South Africa can hold these representatives responsible at any given time.

South Africans deserve better and what is better than to give them a voice, a real voice of their own? Let the people elect their own President, Cabinet Members and the Speaker. While we are committed to defending the Constitution of South Africa, we also have an undertaking to defend and protect the democracy of the people of South Africa. This is why we are committed to the party’s call for Reliable, Accountable and Incorruptible governance.

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