But Maimane should not be the next DA leader

2015-05-05 17:43

After watching Maimane and James debate on where they see the DA, and the country going, I have concluded that Maimane is  definitely not the most suitable candidate to lead the DA, and I could not possibly vote for him to be President of the Republic.

And the reason for this is simply Maimane’s views on our Bill of Rights which I think are just as bad as Zuma talking about wrong rights in our country’s constitution. The question posed to Maimane was whether he would support a referendum on the death penalty.

His response was that if South Africans wanted to decide on the matter, as a democrat he would support the rights of the citizens to decide. He then made an example of his support for the proposal to have a referendum on tolling.

Then Dr James advised Maimane to go and read the Bill of Rights and provisions for the limitation of those rights in the constitution. The problem here is that Maimane seems to share Zuma’s views on democracy that the majority decides what is best for our society when we have a constitution that grants us all individual freedoms and provides for mechanisms to protect those rights.

Putting any of those individual freedoms on the ballot for the majority to decide is dangerous in that, as many scholars have said before, democracy works only if you preserve individual rights because you cannot have four Wolves and one Sheep vote on what to have for dinner.

Maimane pointed out that we come from a history of oppression but would, if permitted, create conditions where a person or group of persons can choose to deprive another person or group of persons rights which the deciding group enjoys. That is American democracy, and we do not have such in South Africa. Perhaps Maimane’s Obamafication is messing with his head.

And this creation of conditions that promote oppression, as Maimane would have, is not foreign to the DA. Back in 2006 when Members of Parliament voted on the Civil Union Bill, the DA gave its MPs a ‘free vote’. In simple terms it means that the MP can choose to deprive a gay person of rights the MP enjoys. Is that liberalism? I don’t think so but the DA said it was in line with their liberal tradition as they wouldn’t want to compel MPs to support a matter that goes against their conscience.

The MPs were appointed by the DA to represent the party’s interests in the legislature. And the DA constitution commits the party to defending the constitution of the Republic. If the constitution of the Republic promotes equality, how did the DA, a party that claims to be for the preservation of the constitution, create conditions where an MP could choose to support the oppression of fellow South Africans through the ‘free vote’ in 2006?

This happened because the DA had leaders who shared Maimane, and President Zuma’s views on our constitutional rights. That perhaps some rights should not be extended to all South Africans. It is incredible that we have men like Zuma, and Maimane who, upon taking public office, promise to uphold the constitution, but do so only when it suits them.

The DA found it so easy to decide on what conditions Mzwamadoda should conduct business with Madodandile but could not take a clear stance on whether or not the two men should be given the marriage rights enjoyed by many South Africans and legally recognise their union as the constitution grants the right to equality. They failed to understand the basic principle of representative democracy, betrayed every gay man and woman that voted for the DA and everyone that believes in equality.

The danger of Maimane becoming the next DA leader is that the party could betray the electorate again and throw liberalism out of the window. Forget individual rights because Maimane believes that the people should decide, even on provisions of the Bill of Rights. But claims that he will stand up for the constitutional rights of all South Africans but err referendum on the right to life?

He is contradicting himself here, perhaps he needs to make a list of the rights he would put on a ballot. But then none of the rights should ever be on the ballot because our country is founded on the principles of equality, human dignity, and advancement of human rights and freedoms, and supremacy of the constitution.

Maimane, and every other person who aspires to hold the highest office in the land ought to have the utmost respect for those principles, and fulfil the obligations imposed by the constitution. It is clear that we cannot count on Maimane and Zuma to do that because they did not mean any of the words on their oath of office, you know, the parts about upholding the constitution.

If some citizens told His Excellency the President of the Republic of South Africa Mmusi Maimane that they wanted to vote on the right to equality, he would not defend that right to equality. He would, because he respects their right to decide, hold a referendum on it. And that is why he should not be the next DA leader, because he cannot be trusted with preserving the rights of all South Africans. He would create conditions where the four Wolves and one Sheep vote on what to have for dinner.

Our Constitution may not support such a referendum but we have many men in history who ignore constitutions and only uphold the parts that suit them. I fear that Maimane is one of those men.

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