PPF calls for SA to ditch con­sti­tu­tion

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - LUYOLO MKENTANE luyolo.mkentane@inl.co.za @luy­olomken­tane

SOUTH Africa must aban­don its con­sti­tu­tion and em­brace a ma­jori­tar­ian par­lia­men­tary sys­tem in or­der to ad­dress the so­cio-eco­nomic chal­lenges be­set­ting the coun­try.

The coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy was also not the brain­child of the rul­ing ANC, but rather the idea of the Broeder­bond.

These were the re­marks made by the pres­i­dent of the Pro­gres­sive Pro­fes­sion­als Fo­rum (PPF), Mzwanele Manyi, in Joburg yes­ter­day, fol­low­ing their na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing at the week­end.

He said the con­cept of con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy was a ploy by the Broeder­bond to en­sure that gov­ern­ment’s in­ter­ven­tion was some­what lim­ited in ad­dress­ing the coun­try’s struc­tural chal­lenges.

“We are sit­ting here to­day with a con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy that we are vouch­ing for. But this con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy is ac­tu­ally at the cen­tre of pro­duc­ing all kinds of spi­ralling poverty that we are hav­ing in this coun­try, the spi­ralling in­equal­ity, the spi­ralling un­em­ploy­ment. Yet we’ve got this con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy,” said Manyi, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Gov­ern­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem.

He said the ANC took many pro­gres­sive res­o­lu­tions at its na­tional elec­tive con­fer­ence in 2007 and one of them was to ban labour bro­kers.

“When we came back to try and im­ple­ment that, we found that the con­sti­tu­tion says, ‘No, Sec­tion 22 of the con­sti­tu­tion of this coun­try gives rights to free­dom of trade and all kinds of things’ … and there­fore it would be un­con­sti­tu­tional to ban labour bro­kers,” Manyi added.

“In other words, it is un­con­sti­tu­tional to take our peo­ple from slav­ery. It is un­con­sti­tu­tional to take our peo­ple from may­hem and abuse. What kind of a con­sti­tu­tion is this? And there­fore we are also say­ing this con­sti­tu­tion, pur­ported to be the best in the world, why is it that not even one coun­try is copy­ing it? Some­thing must give.”

He called for a pub­lic de­bate on the pros and cons of re­ject­ing con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy for a par­lia­men­tary democ­racy in or­der to en­sure a “smooth tran­si­tion”. Manyi sug­gested that the time had come to re-look into the pos­si­bil­ity of whether “we shouldn’t move into par­lia­men­tary democ­racy”.

“The PPF’s view is that our fore­bears must have had ma­jori­tar­i­an­ism in their con­struct of democ­racy. This is our view. We don’t think what we have is ma­jori­tar­i­an­ism. And we are say­ing if con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy is bet­ter than ma­jori­tar­i­an­ism, let’s have that dis­cus­sion,” he said.

“Right now we are not con­vinced, and we are say­ing we need to have that dis­cus­sion as South Africa.”

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Du­misani Hlophe said that what the PPF was call­ing for was doable as long as there was enough sup­port and po­lit­i­cal will. The fo­rum, he said, was within its rights to ad­vo­cate for pol­icy pro­pos­als they thought would be ideal for South Africa.

“In South Africa, there’s a ten­dency to cas­ti­gate in­di­vid­u­als who are not con­form­ing to the main­stream think­ing of so­ci­ety,” said Hlophe.

But fel­low po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Prince Mashele said the PPF’s pro­posal was im­pos­si­ble un­der the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.

Mashele also ac­cused the fo­rum of be­ing ig­no­rant of the fact that the con­sti­tu­tion was a “ne­go­ti­ated prod­uct and the ANC led the ne­go­ti­a­tions that led to its adop­tion”.

We don’t think what we have is ma­jori­tar­i­an­ism

PRO­POSAL: Mzwanele Manyi

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