The classic definition of democracy is a government of the people for the people by the people. In this regard the Africanists define democracy as a government of Africans for Africans by Africans emphasizing the inalienable right of the indigenous majority in Africa to determine their own destiny and to govern themselves.
The essence of democracy is that the authority of government vest in the people and is excised by people to serve the interests of the people. But just how democratic is representative democracy? It is this form of democracy that is followed in South Africa and the world over. More often elected elites abuse state power to serve their own interests through corrupt activities and yet in so doing claim to be acting in the national or public interests.
The public elect a few persons to form a government and represent them in various government authorities and these persons take decisions on behalf of the public. There is no question about their mandate to represent people and take decisions but it is often questionable whether they take decisions for the benefit of the people.
On a number of occasions the South African government has imposed programmes and laws against popular will. The laws relating to cross border boundaries, homosexual marriages, termination of pregnancy and girl child virginity testing comes to mind. During public hearings majority of submissions on most of these laws were fiercely opposed to the introduction of these laws which they felt were of no benefit to the public, immoral and offensive to their cultures as Africans.
Floor crossing, although it is no more, is one of the legislation that was widely opposed by the masses. The reason the ANC government abolished this legislation was because it also had become vulnerable to loose a substantial stake of its parliamentary representation following acrimonious infightings over leadership succession in the run up to their 2007 national conference. Their haste abolition of the elite crime fighting unit, dubbed the Scorpions, is one example of decisions that were imposed on the public.
The stand off between the taxi industry and the government over the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is another further example of an entrenched dictatorial tendency driven by self interest rather than public good. Most of the so called democratic governments in many countries are glorified dictatorships where popular consent and will is manufactured. People must demand responsible and accountable democratic governments which are committed to serve the people. Politics must be a calling to those who are consumed by the desire, love and devotion to serve the people selflessly.
(Image Source: www.iol.co.za)