Democracy comes at a price, says Ramaphosa

2015-03-08 06:00

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Democracy comes with a price tag, according to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“Elections don’t come cheap these days. Elections all over the world are expensive activities, and they have to be funded,” the former businessman told reporters in Maseru on Thursday.

“Every government that practises democracy should know they should budget for when people of the country go to elect their leaders.”

Ramaphosa led the Southern African Development Community’s mediation efforts in Lesotho following the alleged attempted coup against former prime minister Thomas Thabane.

According to an agreement reached under his mediation, Lesotho moved its scheduled elections forward by two years and these were held last month.

Ramaphosa was asked if the R220?million the Lesotho government had to find for the elections was worth it.

He said the Mountain Kingdom reappropriated money from other government programmes to fund the elections, also making sure service delivery wasn’t affected.

“Democracy has a price, unfortunately. We live in an era where democracy has to be paid for.

“And the end justifies the means, and this end – where the people expressed their will, their wish, and articulated their aspirations – was worth every cent, every loti (Lesotho’s currency) government spent on it.

“The people have spoken, and the fact that the people have spoken shows democracy is at work, and the money spent was worth all the effort, all the hard work.

“Many people put in a lot of effort, a lot of hard work, and many people didn’t have much sleep during these elections.”

Ramaphosa said the elections, in fact, cost a lot more than R220?million because of all the work put in by volunteers and as overtime.

“The price of democracy is worth much more than R220?million.”

The elections, which it was hoped would bring stability to the troubled country, produced another coalition government. Analysts fear it could also run into trouble before its five-year term is up.

Democratic Congress leader Pakalitha Mosisili is the prime minister-elect.

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