Submitted to Argus

22 March 2010

The damaging statement by respected academic Dr Mamphela Ramphele( Sunday Edition -Weekend Argus  21 March 2010 front page) that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has weakened democracy in South Africa  and  provided the country with inferior political education must not be taken lightly.The IEC has become a lame duck in spite of all its efficiences. She berates the opposition party  for poor oversight but maybe does not know that the 12 member Multi Party Forum of which the Aljama-ah politcal Party is a founder member has raised this with the IEC at the highest level and late last year  with President Zuma also questioning the independence of the IEC. The signature response of the IEC is that the Constitution requires that it be governed and directed by Parliament so for the past 15 years  the IEC is under the control of the ANC which it appears has thrown democracy to the dogs. How can one expect a political Party  in power to promote democracy at the expense of its seats in parliament. So  the ANC has taken  most of the electoral funds for itself and most of the airtime on radio and TV of the public broadcaster during election time and give the balance of the spoils to other Parties with seats in Parliament on a pro-rata basis. Emerging political parties and communities aspiring for a voice in Parliament do not even get any crumbs under the pretext that such funding will lead to a  greater proliferation of political parties. The ANC completely disrespects the constitutional obligation of Parliament to promote a Multi Party Democracy in the country and wants to rule until the Resurrection. A ” SUPER OPPOSITION”   is no better than the entrenched ruling Party we have now and the prospects for a democratic South Africa seems slim. The solution is for the playing fields to be levelled when elections are called so that parties in parliament  and emerging parties that can prove their bonafides are on the same footing. Political education should be the responsibility of all political parties funded by the IEC. The IEC must also fund all electoral material and reduce its deposits to facilitate easier access to a voice in Parliament. That your article appears on the day  when we commemorate  the  events around Sharpville is so ominous as the thirst for a revolution that will lead to a real democracy is stronger today than it was 50 years ago. While we share the doctor’s concerns we hope that she will not spoil her “wisdom of Solomon” by leading a dead duck like a Super Opposition. This wil be out of step with our dream for a Multi Party democracy in South Africa.