Make public office appointments openly
“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity”, these words, attributed to the Dalai Lama, aptly represent contemporary SA. Although transparency is built into our system of checks and balances and various institutions, the reality is that it is not a value that has been internalised as core to our political culture. Without transparency, accountability is a farce. However, it is not enough for transparency to be taken as a tick-box exercise. Transparency means much more than the requirement to declare assets and personal financial dealings done by the executive and members of parliament as required by various ethics codes of conduct. Transparency should be a public virtue embedded into characters of those who aspire to attain positions of leadership. Unfortunately, this virtue is sorely lacking. It has taken the persistence and vigilance on the part of the media to bring the duplicity of officials and elected representatives to the fore. The media has safeguarded and championed the cause of transparency - notwithstanding some of the lapses in judgement that have led some titles to fall prey to nefarious agendas. In the bigger scheme of things, the work of journalists has been invaluable.
For this reason society should not allow politicians to dictate to us how we should engage with those revelations that draw the curtain on their sordid interests and deeds.
It is not for the likes of the EFF to dictate to journalists what stories they should or should not pursue.
As critical thinking citizens we ought to scrutinise the motives of politicians who involve the media to drive campaigns against political rivals but cry foul when they are placed under the microscope. The feud between Julius Malema and the media is a lesson that the media should avoid giving an individual so much attention and influence that they begin to think they are above scrutiny. It is neither here nor there that the media is pursuing stories relating to Malema’s and Floyd Shivambu’s alleged culpability in the VBS looting but moving slowly in investigating their claims against Pravin Gordhan and his daughter. That does not make the facts coming to light about the EFF leaders any less conseque ntial.
‘ ‘ Democracy requires accountability, and requires transparency
The EFF needs to take transparency more seriously than merely demanding for ANC members that contested for positions at the ANC ’s elective conference in Nasrec to disclose their sources of campaign funding. The media should continue to cast the spotlight on corruption, malfeasance and disregard of ethics by any politicians.
In the same vein, public figures should be committed enough to the values of transparency that they welcome scrutiny. Anything less is hypocrisy exposed by citizens. Revelations of the rot in our state institutions at the state capture inquiry has made the need to hold politicians to account more urgent.
For a sustainable democracy, transparency must be the first criteria to qualify for public office. Barack Obama stated in his first term as US president, “Democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency”.
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