Use your vote, says ex-Scorpion

2014-12-05 06:02
Prof. Barney Pityana: Alet Pretorius

Prof. Barney Pityana: Alet Pretorius

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - South Africans should make their voices heard at the ballot box, Dr Ruben Richards said on Thursday.

"Intervening in what the ruling party does should begin at the ballot box," Richards said.

"I don't have a sense that civil society is active."

Richards, a former deputy director general of the now disbanded Scorpions, was speaking at a "State of Democracy debate" at the Constitutional Hill in Braamfontein alongside human rights lawyer and former Unisa Vice Chancellor Barney Pityana.

He criticised many political leaders for not being "decisive leaders".

"I am not sure we can step away from the need for a decisive leadership. There is no will in the part of many people in that space... because of 'don't bite the hand that feeds you'," he said.

Earlier, Richards said the country had a few "brave and courageous" leaders such as Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

"We have sufficient [institutions for] checks and balances but they require brave leaders.

"We just don't have the courage in the institutions."

He said people who had been appointed through connections were wary of biting the hand that fed them.


Pityana said government was not doing enough to curb the gap of inequality in the country.

"Where we are today is that we have a gulf of inequality between rich and poor. Not enough has been done to bridge that gap in the last 20 years."

He said those that had been elected into Parliament not only represented those who had voted them in, but all South Africans in general.

"If our democracy is to have any credibility it is going to require that bigness," he said.

The problem with the current state of democracy in South Africa was the quality of human capital which had become "contaminated". This was what needed to change, he said.

"We have not thought sufficiently about the culture of thinking beyond the 20 years.

"We getting to the point where we are getting to the culture of thinking there are untouchables."

He said Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Mexico were examples of places where governments were abusing their political power.

There would come a point when people sought an alternative form of governance, and would turn to right-wing ethnic politics, he said.

Right wing

"[South Africa] will be in real danger."

He described the African National Congress as "the most right-wing party we have...

"Until we can get to a point where resources are used for the poor and not for enrichment."

He said another danger was of South Africa turning into a security state.

The death of Andries Tatane, who died during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg was an example, Pityana said.

Seven police officers accused of his murder and assault were acquitted in the Ficksburg Regional Court in March last year.

Other examples included the Marikana, where a wildcat strike turned violent and left 44 people (including 40 miners, two policemen and two security guards) dead in the North West mining town in August 2012.

The Lonmin miners were demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

Thirty-four of the miners were killed on 16 August 2012 when police fired at them, apparently in an attempt to disperse and disarm them.

On Wednesday Eastern Cape police shot dead two people and wounded 11 who "violently" tried to steal food from a truck in Bizana. This was another example Pityana used.

"We are getting quite used to the fact that police are there to shoot and kill. So we need to pay attention to the security apparatus of the state," Pityana said.

He said the answer to that danger was for South Africans to recover their sense of democracy.

"We need to move away from the culture of enrichment. The thinking that 'if many people join the club, it will be alright' saddens me," he said.

Read more on:    anc  |  barney pityana  |  politics

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.