South Africa is a ‘democratic’ state meaning that we as citizens participate in our governance by electing representatives. Thus, in a democratic state the government is merely an instrument in achieving the people’s will. Opposition is very important for the flourishing of democracy. It prevents a one-part state and also acts to keep a balance and check on power.
As such, I found it quite disturbing that despite being a ‘democratic state’; a new party- COPE had insult after insult heaped on it. The ruling party, which is the ANC even went as far as making public derogatory and defamatory speeches against members of the party. I’m sure we all remember the birth of COPE. We had Angie Motshekga calling people “dogs” and the Party President calling people, “shed snake skin”. That was quite clearly an infringement of their rights and goes against our democratic constitution.
No-one is obligated to any party, whether it rules or not. Defamation of character and verbal abuse towards one’s person go against our constitution and yet the ruling party’s members are free to say what they like. This makes no sense to me. Opposition parties serve to create a healthy democracy, so the new party should have been welcomed (at least publicly). It just shows what a long way we still have to go, in being able to truly exercise democracy and raises many questions about the ANC’s fidelity to democracy.
Like Socrates said, “… it is right to do things that are not in the interest of rulers, who are the stronger party; that is when the interests of the people are threatened”. Very apt words, don’t you think…?