In the wake of the unprecedented regime change for South Africa on Valentine’s day, Right Click Media explores the trending event, and what it could mean for the future of South Africa and its businesses.
Tagging on to trending topics this week, it is difficult not to notice the events of the Zuma/Gupta scandal as they unfold on our television sets, mobile screens and streets. For many South Africans, the 15th of February 2018 feels like a new era of South African politics, after nearly a generation of struggling against Zuma’s policies of blazon corruption which made South Africa feel a lot like a car being taken on a joy-ride. During his incomplete two terms, Zuma had survived multiple attempts to have him removed from office, all of which had amounted to nothing up to the point where his own party sought to have him removed as its head.
Former president Jacob Zuma clung to power to the very last minute, initially reacting to his party’s demands for his resignation with anger and defiance. Though having been given the chance to resign before another vote of no confidence would likely see him ousted, the embattled president had no choice other than to accept the wishes of his party, having lost the backing of its members.
In the meantime, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will take over as acting president, a notion as welcome to most South African citizens as rainfall in Cape Town. The former trade union leader and businessman has vowed to end the culture of impunity that has plagued South African politics in the wake of the Zuma administration over his last two terms, as well as to put an end to the country’s state of capture which has seen millions being syphoned through the Gupta family to pay off cabinet members while essentially making life more difficult for South Africa’s most vulnerable citizens.
While there seems to have come an end to Zuma’s free reign over our country, whether or not he will be prosecuted for his alleged transactions remains to be seen. His son, Duduzane Zuma has reportedly had a warrant for his arrest issued for his involvement in the state capture scandal, alongside a few members of the Gupta family, though as of yet, only a few arrests have been made.
Have we Done the Right Thing?
Amidst the excitement of the coming change and relief that this turn of events may bring, there are a few questions that we as South Africans need to ask and learn from in this endeavour. South Africa is a developing country in the democratic sphere, and while no system of government is ever water tight, our approach to democracy is notoriously riddled with holes. As our defeated president took his leave from office, he left us with a statement that we should actually take to heart (regardless of how we feel about the man who made it). According to the South African constitution, there are two legal-political mechanisms which can be used to remove a president from power: A vote of no confidence in accordance to section 102, and impeachment under section 89. While numerous attempts had been made in the past to enact these mechanisms, the eventual push that saw him leave office did not; he was pushed towards his decision by his own party members.
So while the results were favourable, the process by which we have arrived at them were not, and have even been compared to a palace coup by the ousted president himself; and while the statement is a little melodramatic, his process of removal is not that different from the way in which Thabo Mbeki was removed from office ten years ago (an event which Zuma had a direct hand in).
The point is, that by ignoring the mechanisms of our democratic system, we have essentially played a part in undermining them. This might not look like a problem now, but what stops the next administration from abusing or indeed undermining the principles of democracy in the same way?
As a post-colonial country, South Africa is already plagued with levels of instability which the principles of democracy are designed to keep in check; one only needs to take a look at some of our closest neighbours and their histories to see the results of throwing them out of the window.
While in the short term, it may not seem like the best approach, perhaps it would have been better for the future of democracy and our respect for the system of government if we had simply allowed our inglorious leader to complete the rest of his term, or to continue attempts to have him impeached in accordance with the correct democratic processes.
On the Other Hand
Though perhaps we can blame the president’s disregard for democratic processes for our own dwindling respect for the system, he has highlighted its flaws in setting for us an example, of how the right approach and a certain amount of charm can supersede the structures of the system. So while we have all been losing faith in the ANC at face value, what we have actually been struggling to come to terms with, is our own dwindling trust in democracy. And it is because of this that we don’t mind ignoring its processes when looking to change the regime that claims to represent them.
And so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the ANC and its competing parties have taken an eye-for-an-eye approach to removing the president from power; we are expected to follow the examples of our leader after all, and since he had a substantial role to play in ousting the last democratically elected president, it is safe to say that political patterns have followed in his shuffling footsteps, right to the point where they are reluctantly stepping down.
Where to from Here?
Systems of government and administrations will come and go; some of them will be beneficial while others might be just as corrupt as Zuma’s administration allegedly is, or possibly even more so.
However, if we are to maintain faith in our democracy, we need to keep it in tact by respecting its ideals collectively. Our former president was, after all, voted in over two terms by the majority of our country; he picked up power not once, but twice through democratic processes because of the masses that are now overjoyed to have him ousted.
Has his administration been responsible for softening the shell of democracy so, or are we as a developing nation still trying to figure out how to wield the system? Whatever the case, our future needs to be characterised by vigilance; we need to consider (collectively) the integrity of our potential leaders and not buy into empty promises and blatantly unfavourable leadership qualities hidden behind a chuckle and a smile. And where we may fail to do so on the first run, electing a corrupt official for a second-term begets no real excuse for any of us.
This country and its systems belong to the people and not those who put them in place; we are responsible for our democratic choices, and we should remember that throughout the entire process of the coming change; lest we perverse the nature of democracy without even noticing it.
Let’s Take Charge of the Change
This may very well be the event that brings South Africa into a new era of growth and prosperity. Make sure that your business is geared up to grow alongside our country as we move into a brighter future. For details on how we can assist your business to grow through your digital marketing campaign, from web design and SEO right through to social media marketing and mobile app development, contact a representative from Right Click Media today, or visit our website for further details.