I don't recognise Zuma and the ANC is next

2014-11-18 09:11

I have long made it clear that Zuma is not my president. In an Open Letter written in 2011, I boldly stated that Zuma is not my President and I stand by that. Allow me to restate, “I don’t recognise you” Zuma as president. Some may say I am delusional – let me be allowed.

The reason I denounced Zuma as my president is because I was tired of being embarrassed, disappointed, infuriated and heartbroken by actions of a man who cares not for the interests of our country ahead of his own. The man was, is and never will be fit for the seat he occupies – this truth will stand timelessly. On the contrary, the ANC as a party has enjoyed greater legitimacy at some point in our 20 years of democracy. Citizens believed that the influence and might of the ANC as a politically and morally sound organisation would see it through even the greatest storms.

Unfortunately, the ANC is not recovering from what many pre-Polokwane 2007 ANC Conference termed “The Zuma Tsunami”. It is a Tsunami of highest proportion, leaves wreckage wherever it passes and it has not lost its force of destruction to date. How unwittingly prophetic were those who were excited about electing into power The Zuma Tsunami. So great is this tsunami, it led me to state clearly earlier this year that ‘Zuma has become bigger than the ANC’.

This embedded tendency of a Zuma who has been elevated to a pedestal of greatness, whose shadow the ANC now resides under, is destroying the function of the ANC as a governing political party. Soon enough, if the current trend of events in parliament and spheres of government continue, I will denounce the entire ANC government and simply not recognise it. Democracy is not only a function of regular elections. Democracy is a conglomerate of tasks and arrangements that must give undisputed credible legitimacy to those who are governing. This is in order to exercise authority bestowed upon them as a result of occupying positions in government. Those individuals are nothing but normal human beings, simply entrusted with the exercise of governing authority.

When they err, when they break the social contract given to them through the vote, as citizens we actually have grounds to reclaim back the power they have been borrowed – even before an election arrives. People cannot be at the mercy of elections in order to hold accountable those who misuse and undermine the power assigned to them. The danger with relying on elections is that you become an accomplice to the looting, the misuse of power, the dearth of vision and the hopelessness of incompetence. For this reason, I am very close to denouncing the ANC government and not recognise it at all.

If enough citizens were to do the same, it would lead to street demonstrations to have the ANC government leave power before 2019 and call for early elections. Of course, I might be being too hopeful that such could happen in South Africa in this time period we are in. Yet, the point I am trying to illustrate here is that you need not wait for the next election when those elected into power break the social contract upon which they were elected. John Locke understood this very well in the 1600s when he penned his seminal work: Two Treatises of Government, where he developed grounds for citizens to denounce and revolt against an elected government.

In modern day democracy, the ruling party simply needs to be in breach of its oath upon election – that it will serve the Republic and uphold its constitution – for it to give citizens legitimate grounds to denounce it and call for early elections. The ANC is losing the reserve tank legitimacy it is running on. Once it runs out, the time for us citizens not to recognise the ruling party will finally arrive. When that time comes, we should be bold to state that the President and his cabinet are nothing but intruders in our government and begin to reclaim it – even if the elections of 2019 have not come. Legitimacy is the key to the exercise of power in government.

Whilst declaring illegitimacy to the ANC would be the first step, further discussions on two important issues are needed. The first is that of a parliamentary executive and the second is that of political parties being able to force a caucus view on Members of Parliament.

The first is important because growingly when the executive is in trouble, we see Ministers attending proceedings in parliament as members of that house to defend transgressions of the executive they control. Effectively, parliament is unable to exercise credible oversight over the executive because the executive is always present in the house to defend itself and by extension intimidate Members of Parliament – especially those from their own organisation. We should see a situation whereby any person who is appointed a Deputy President or Minister resigns from parliament and focuses on being a member of the Executive. This will assist us in drawing definitive lines of accountability and achieve the constitutionally envisaged independence between the Executive and the Legislature.

The second one relates to the ANC forcing Members of Parliament to behave like a herd of cattle that must follow what the herdman in Luthuli House enforces. This means MPs are forced to act against their conscience and consciousness on every matter before them in Parliament. This is anachronistic with the values of our constitutional democracy. Perhaps, the laws that govern the election of members should make it more difficult for MPs to vacate their parliamentary seats simply because they have been stripped of their party membership. Even if we continue with a proportional representation system, we can still have space for MPs to dissent with the party that has deployed them in parliament and have them vote against the party position in parliament.

The ANC wanted to discipline veteran Ben Turok for having chosen to abstain the vote on the Protection of State Information Bill. Turok, represented by then credible Pallo Jordan, saw the flimsy potential kangaroo and anti-democracy disciplinary hearing swept under the carpet. It is simply undemocratic to impose a view of Members of Parliament, strip them of their independent thought and conscience.

In fact, the parties (ANC and some opposition parties) that force their MPs to take caucus views even when they disagree with them should simply send one parliamentarian to the house. Maybe after that parliament can even be run from a garage because whether there are 5 or 248 MPs their views are tailored in Luthuli House, so why waste taxpayers’ money propping up so many MPs instead of one from Luthuli House? Forced block voting on MPs is undemocratic.

These two points must be rectified so that the next party that comes into power does not have grounds to mete out chaos and misuse of power so easily against us citizens. Unfortunately, for any such changes to happen, the ANC must be willing to engage in this discussion – an impossibility by this ailing movement.

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