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Democracy lies a-bleeding

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  Kragdadigheid. That is the word that was routinely used during the Apartheid era, to describe the actions of the regime in response to the struggle for freedom, the struggle for democracy. The response was characterised by an executive that routinely employed state power to prop up the edifice of apartheid.

 

ule was by decree, with cabinet largely relegated to a rubber stamp for the post facto approval of whatever decisions a small coterie of politicians and political appointees took in the supposed interests of the country.

Names like PW Botha and Neil Barnard come to mind, and those who recall those days, will remember how the state security apparatus was callously deployed in defense of “freedom and democracy”.
The separation of powers, which was supposedly a feature of our political system, was a myth, a chimera.

But the forces of democracy triumphed, and in 1994, a new era of participatory democracy dawned, and we could rest easy, secure in the knowledge that finally, our freedom was protected by one of the finest constitutions in the world.

Twenty one years later, on Thursday night last week in the hallowed precincts of our legislature, we saw once more the naked use of executive power deployed by a small coterie of politicians and political appointees, in defense of “freedom and democracy”.

We sat rooted to the spot as a nation, while the executive lifted its middle finger to the entire country and said: “We can do as we choose, when we choose, where we choose, how we choose, and there is nothing any of you can do about it.”

From the alleged deployment of mobile phone jamming apparatus, to the summoning of armed police into the Chamber to eject unruly members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF); from the barely concealed disdain and irritation with which speaker Baleka Mbete responded to questions about the jamming of the mobile phone signal; to the euphoria and back slapping that characterised ANC MPs behaviour when they left the House after Jacob Zuma’s lacklustre State of the Nation Address; from the surrealism of Jacob Zuma making not a single comment when he resumed his speech about what occurred in the House after his address was interrupted; to his trademark self-satisfied little chuckle while watching the EFF being manhandled out of the

House; from the manipulation of the television feed from the House during the violent ejection of the EFF (we saw only presiding officers Baleka Mbete and Thandi Modise); to Baleka Mbete’s refusal to allow Julius Malema to rise on a point of privilege because according to her she knew what he was going to say – we saw an executive trampling on the central principle of the separation of powers.

No longer is the legislature a place where our lawmakers can speak their minds, and ask the hard questions which must be asked of those who presume to know what is good for all South Africans.

No longer can we trust that proceedings in our legislature will be presided over fairly and impartially, and that no party will be favoured over another, that no individual will be protected at the expense of the truth.

No longer can we hold up our head in the community of nations, and claim title to the mantle of a shining example of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

No longer can we trust the very people who were elected to serve our best interests as a nation.

No longer can we expect that our constitution be worth the paper upon which it is written.

RIP democracy. RIP freedom. RIP South Africa.

Written by Norman McFarlane You are reading Democracy lies a-bleeding articles

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