Nightmare in the making

2009-09-26 12:35

IF the argument of City Press editor-in-chief Ferial ­Haffajee is to be ­believed, then the apparent friendliness of our president, Jacob Zuma, coupled with stability, will drive the country forward for the next 10 years. In her ­article two weeks ago ­Haffajee tries to make a case for two terms for Zuma as president of the country.

This in spite of the lack of principles and the mounting constitutional and political difficulties currently stalking both government and the country. Zuma has supported and inherited policies and programmes that have messed the country up, as he has himself admitted on several fronts.

A hardcore party man, he defers to the ANC for the positions he adopts. Haffajee ­admits that we don’t know what he really thinks.

He reads what is written for him and avoids discussing complex matters. At the same time his comments on crucial issues are usually made after the events and are generally ­evasive and weak.

Zuma has never committed himself to any policies and never offered any personal ­vision. All we get from him is “friendliness”. Yet Haffajee, like Zwelinzima Vavi and others, still calls for two terms for him. This can only happen in stagnant or decaying situations or in totalitarian “democracies” that control the minds of people.

In dynamic democracies voters determine if incumbents deserve another term based on their performance.

Haffajee lauds social grants as proof of progress for the poor. Such a “safety net” has only led to an unhealthy ­dependence on the state. Even Zuma himself has ­bemoaned the existence of a huge dependent population of 13?million people that has been spawned largely by child grants.

Zuma supported this policy during the elections and even suggested hiking the age limit for child grants from 14 to 18. Now he criticises the very system that has brought this disaster about.

Instead of fantasising about two terms for Zuma we must explore solutions to the current crises in the ANC government and even call for its resignation. This would open up the prospects of having a non-partisan government that would grapple with national issues.

There is a need to overhaul the 1994 dispensation and the 1996 constitution, including considering a genuinely representative electoral system.

Our system is unrepresentative because the state president is elected by parliamentarians put in their seats by the ruling party. South African- style democracy has become a mockery and has sparked social calamities as well as bureaucratic and judicial crises.

These are issues that need to be debated before we end up with a plundered country and in the grip of a nightmare of misrule.

Mabogoane is an independent analyst

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