Democracy is an instrument of oppression
THE NEGOTIATIONS which preceded the 1994 elections, Codesa, brought about the enfranchisement of the black people in this country. That is, for the first time the black people were going to be allowed to vote. Now we are living under a democratic dispensation, a constitutional democracy, to be precise.
We have had regular elections every five years since 1994. Two major changes have taken place: by means of the vote the black people have removed white people from political power; and the new dispensation has created the black middle class.
The Progressive Party, the predecessor of the DA, started to talk about the importance of the creation of the black middle class as a buffer between the super rich whites and the poor black majority in the early 1970s. This has been achieved. Now the ruling party and the DA have become two sides of the same coin. These parties serve capital.
The Freedom Charter says: “The people shall govern.” But the ruling party has thrown away the Freedom Charter. They no longer talk about it. The slogan “The people shall govern”, is about democracy. It is about the government of the people, for the people, by the people. This cannot be seen anywhere in this country. The people are still being governed as before. The people are not in power. And power is not with the people. Where does the power reside? What has happened to “Power to the people”?
If the people were truly in power, if they were truly in charge of their lives, they would not be so restive. The people are marching and demonstrating against the government. They demand service delivery. They want houses, jobs and security; they want to live decent lives. Democracy is meaningless to them.
It is like a birthday card from an irresponsible father who doesn’t maintain his child. The kind of houses that they build for the people are an insult to their dignity. They are worse than the four-roomed matchbox houses of the bygone era. They have allowed squatter camps to thrive, calling them informal settlements. They are now a permanent feature of our landscape. The indignity of living there is unimaginable.
The truth is that we have a bourgeois democracy. That is, a democracy that uses the state to protect the interests of the middle class and the rich. People must not forget that democracy is an instrument of oppression.
Now it is being used against the working people and the poor. The working people and the poor must establish their own democracy, which will protect their interests.
People want houses, jobs, security
Chairperson, Azanian National Liberation Army