Take back power

2008-06-06 00:00

Mamphela Ramphele hit the nail squarely on the head at her recent Cape Town Press Club speech: the South African government remains fundamentally authoritarian. Her highly plausible explanation for this is that liberation-movement exiles who lack competence were awarded official posts too freely.

A lack of expertise, and political courage, has allowed what Ramphele quaintly terms furious ghosts to flourish: racism, sexism and ethnic chauvinism, as well as authoritarianism. The detrimental consequences adversely affect the lives of all South Africans.

The most significant part of her speech was a rallying call to the ordinary people of this country: take power back and make government accountable. Democracy belongs to all citizens, but unless they exercise their rights energetically and effectively there is a very great danger that power will become the sole preserve of one political tendency. The writing is already very clearly on the wall for all to see.

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