Leaders aren't listening

2008-08-11 00:00

The litmus requirement of South Africa’s Constitution for the government to involve ordinary citizens in decision-making is now in danger of becoming a principle on paper only. The astonishingly glib way in which the African National Congress (ANC) leadership dismissed calls from the public to debate the decision whether to close down the Scorpions, the National Prosecution Authorities’ (NPA) prosecuting unit, the country’s most effective crime-busting unit, is a case in point. The National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee for Safety and Security is preparing to process two draft bills — the South African Police Service Amendment Bill and the National Prosecuting Authority Bill — that aim to close down the Scorpions and incorporate its members into a new organised crime unit within the police service.

In a moment of lucidity, no doubt induced by his sacking as Western Cape premier, Ebrahim Rasool, in an interview with the Sunday Times, pointed his finger at the heart of the ANC. Rasool, speaking after his sacking, said that the ANC leadership is failing to understand that the ANC is the “driver” of the nation, not the “nation”. Yet, if the ANC is the driver of the nation, then it needs to get mandates on policies from the nation. Now, the core ANC leadership mistakenly think that they are the nation, that whatever they do or say is the nation itself doing it or speaking.

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