We are also to blame

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE lat­est rev­e­la­tions of the ex­tent to which President Ja­cob Zuma’s friends, the Gup­tas, in­flu­ence state af­fairs should be a cause for grave con­cern for all law-abid­ing ci­ti­zens who sub­scribe to con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy.

For starters, con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy is premised on the power of the peo­ple. That is, we vote for po­lit­i­cal par­ties which then send their mem­bers to po­si­tions of power in the state.

But the fact that par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and civil ser­vants have been dis­patched to the state by their par­ties does not di­min­ish the power that the peo­ple have on them, for the party was able to de­ploy them pre­cisely be­cause it re­ceived the power from the peo­ple. It there­fore fol­lows that those in po­si­tions of power are there be­cause of the peo­ple and are, there­fore, duty bound to solely serve the in­ter­ests of the peo­ple.

The con­sti­tu­tion em­pow­ers the president, who is also at the helm of the coun­try be­cause of us ci­ti­zens, to ex­er­cise his pre­rog­a­tive to ap­point an ex­ec­u­tive to serve the peo­ple of this coun­try.

How­ever, the emer­gence of the Gupta e-mail leaks, which among oth­ers show how the fam­ily was in­volved in the ap­point­ment of se­nior of­fi­cials in state-owned en­ter­prises and how they were favoured to get cit­i­zen­ship, says we are in a race to the bot­tom.

It is in­cum­bent on us, the peo­ple, to ex­er­cise our power, the very same power we gave politi­cians, to stop the coun­try from the path of go­ing nowhere slowly. We must ask our­selves, how we got here.

We need to en­sure that all those who ex­er­cise con­sti­tu­tional pow­ers that we, the peo­ple, did not give them, are brought to book be­cause they are ef­fec­tively com­mit­ting a crime.

But in ex­er­cis­ing this power to hold those we voted for re­spon­si­ble, we must not over­look our cul­pa­bil­ity in the sub­ver­sion of our demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions and gov­ern­ment by un­scrupu­lous char­ac­ters. We are also to blame. In the end, it is we who will bear the brunt of the state cap­ture through ram­pant cor­rup­tion and poor ser­vices.

We must pro­tect the state jeal­ously with our lives to en­sure it serves us, the peo­ple, and not the in­ter­ests of some rogue, private in­di­vid­u­als.

In the same breath, we must stop th­ese un­elected peo­ple from ex­er­cis­ing un­due in­ter­est on our taxes.

Let the peo­ple rise against state cap­ture.

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