Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Junk Governance

Source: businesstech.co.za
I think I have spent enough of recess being (basically) useless so I might as well start writing before I have wasted all of it doing nothing. And considering the fact that over the past weekend there have been multiple protests (all of a sudden protests are not so criminal) against Zuma and the ANC, I feel that it’s about time I add my two cents to the conversation. In the aftermath of the overnight cabinet reshuffle I have read a lot of articles that fall into one of two categories:
1). Articles that explain the reasons for the black population’s rejection of the anti-Zuma protests. Or
2). Articles that give reason why the black population should, in fact, join the call for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

Me, I don’t know. I think I have more reason to be biased towards the first category and not the second. The arguments for the second, although they make sense, are weak because they ignore the history of this country and ignore all the hurts that this country has experienced. Besides that, I really have nothing to add when it comes to the question of who should and who shouldn’t protest because this ignores what is fundamentally wrong with not only South Africa and South African politics and governance but also what’s wrong with politics and governance all over the world.

Source: dailytech.com
Jacob Zuma is not the only being who frequently abuses his position of power. Donald Trump is another perfect example of a president who has a general disregard for the good of the country and the economy. South Korea’s first female president was recently arrested on charges of bribery and abuse of power. The fact that power abuse occurs so frequently across the world in “democratic” countries that are worlds apart in terms of cultural practices should be an indication that the problem is not necessarily with the individuals (who are, in my opinion, naturally power hungry) but the problem is the democratic system/structure that enables leaders to make reckless decision and have the ultimate power in decision making.

The problem is that the social contract that exist in most (if not all) democratic (and non-democratic) counties is between one man and the society that said man governs. The problem is that millions of people give their consent (directly or indirectly) to one man, to do with their fates as he sees fit.
I take Philosophy and Ethics as a module, and one of the topics that we discussed was Technology and Culture. This included defining technology (it’s not as simple as it might seem), the link between technology and culture, as well as technological optimism and pessimism (bear with me, you will get my point soon enough). Now, one of the characteristics of technological optimism is that it assumes that technology will not fall into the wrong hands, that everyone will use it for the good of society. The same can be said about democratic structures that exist currently. Democratic structures assume that the individual who is sworn in to manage the country (such a wild idea) is not only selfless but has societies interests in mind at all times during decision making. But time and again we see the opposite happen.

Personally, although it bothers me that the president (for whatever reason) re-shuffled the cabinet overnight I don’t think it’s a train smash that we will never recover form (but then again, I’m a layman).  What bothers me most is the system that allows him to make such big decisions by himself with no one else’s input, no fore warning whatsoever (unless I missed it) to the people. It’s the very same system that allows Donald Trump to prohibit people from Muslim countries from entering America. Unless there is something I’m missing about the processes that are involved in decision making in a democracy, the system/structure needs radical reform.

In my opinion, the president should be the face of the county instead of the main ultimate decision maker. The decisions should be made by a board (of men and women, 51 maybe, it has to be an odd number so that there are no ties) that is voted for by the people. The party that has the most member representation on the board will be referred to as the ruling party. You can argue that that is the same structure that we use currently, that would be untrue, if it were true we wouldn’t be going by junk status Ministers have very limited power in terms of what they can and can’t do. They are also at risk of being moved at any given time leaving their post vacant or occupied by someone who is ill qualified. This system might mean that decision making would take longer than it does now, but at last it will be deliberated. There is always the risk of corruption, but with a group of 51 you are more likely to have a whistle blower.

I don’t even agree with the current economic system (capitalism with a dash of communism) but that’s a post for a different day…

It’s not white people that are the enemy, it’s not black people, it’s not even Zuma or the ANC; rather it is the system that enables reckless governance that is a problem. Since South Africa is all about radical reform these days, we might as well take the same approach to governance, and government structures.

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