OPINIONISTA

Omry Makgoale: South Africa will be saved by parliamentary electoral reform – not by any political party

There is no perfect political party anywhere in the world, but we will continue to suffer from corruption until we have an electoral system that balances representivity with accountability. We need a parliamentary process that gives ourselves as citizens, the voters, the power to elect the best people from the existing political parties.

Irrespective of their ideological leanings, all political parties in South Africa have patriots and crooks alongside each other in their committees, whether they are left, right or centre. This is true for all to see, from the municipal council to the Cabinet minister, from branch levels to the national leadership, whether it is called national executive committee, or national council or national high command. With regard to the ANC, this is clear in regard to the State Capture inquiry, the SARS inquiry, the Home Affairs Inquiry into the Guptas' naturalisation, the VBS bank heist report, the PIC inquiry or the inquiry into the suitability of advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mwrebi to hold office in the National Prosecuting Authority under retired judge Yvonne Mokgoro – all these inquiries have the same denominator. This is that ANC members and leaders are involved in corruption and so far with no consequences, because the police were hollowed out by President Jacob Zuma with his deployment of retired police generals Richard Mdluli, Berning Ntlemeza and Kgomotso Phahlane, as well as NPA. Most of the fraudsters are left to go scot-free, with no arrests and prosecutions. Until we have a head of NPA with integrity we are going nowhere. The money donations by the Guptas and VBS mutual bank to ANC election campaigns do not auger well for the whole ANC. When the leaders are corrupt, the entire party is mired in corruption. While nobody is saying all ANC members are corrupt, there are many leaders who have been proven to be corrupt and these inquiries demonstrate the hand of ANC leaders at a high level in all of them. ANC supporters were torn apart in the last general elections, divided between voting for the captured Jacob Zuma or voting for the EFF under Julius Malema, the former ANC Youth League firebrand. Supporters of Malema were saying he is still young and he will correct his mistakes which led him to bankrupting Limpopo government with his comrade, the former premier Cassel Mathale, and his Ratanang Trust. Though all accept that Zuma cannot be changed in his mature age, Malema could still be changed to be a decent patriot and serve the people. Recent revelations about Malema’s cousin, Matsobane Phaleng, however, show that his company has received an estimated R5-million from the company of Brian Shivambu, the brother to Floyd Shivambu the deputy leader of EFF, with the money ultimately coming from VBS mutual bank. This is a bank of pensioners in Venda. It leaves a gaping hole in the EFF propaganda message that it represents the poor. It looks as if the EFF instead are preying on the poor in this case. Is this not hypocrisy? Actions speak louder than words. When we look at the Democratic Alliance, we see a party in turmoil. What started as a dispute about the two reports into irregularities in municipal tender by the law firm Bowmans has flared into a split. The honeymoon period between Patricia de Lille and Helen Zille is dissipating at a higher rate than anticipated. DA leader Mmusi Maimane has failed to balance the interests between the left radicals (mainly coloureds) and right wing, mainly white liberals. In her last address as Mayor of Cape Town this week, De Lille addressed her concerns about the smear campaign against her by some white liberals, involving the leaking of the supposedly confidential Bowman reports. In the same seating five DA councillors including the chief whip, Shaun August, resigned from the council and from the DA party. In a joint press statement, August, Suzette Little, Siya Mamkeli, Thulani Stemele, and Greg Barnardo said: "We resigned as individuals for our own reasons – we do not make the claim of racism lightly. It is our experience" This is a blow for a fledgling party trying to portray itself as a non-racial party ready to rule SA. Lack of trust between races in the DA will continue to undermine it for some time. The allegations of racist bullying tactics by De Lille must be taken seriously by the DA if it wishes to recover. The DA image will be tarnished and might take some time to recover. Could this mean the revival of Independent Democrats, the former party formed by Patricia de Lille after leaving the Pan Africanist Congress? Anything is possible. All these underhand dealings and internal party feuds hide the basic underlying problem, however. The problem in South Africa is created not by political parties but by the parliamentary electoral laws, which give no power to voters over MPs and provincial councillors, and all power to party headquarters. It is a recipe for corruption, built into the Constitution There is no perfect political party anywhere in the world, but we will continue to suffer from corruption until we have an electoral system that balances representivity with accountability. We need a parliamentary process that gives ourselves as citizens, the voters, the power to elect the best people from the existing political parties. We, the voters, can distinguish patriots from crooks, democrats from racists. Deepening democracy through parliamentary electoral reform is the only safe way to go for South Africa. Why can't we choose the people we trust? DM

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