DDF SENATE PROPOSALS VINDICATED

There is a saying that all will come to those who wait. Being proactive I am not sure I agree with the sentiment. But recently something happened illustrating it’s relevance.

Some 60 years back in the 1960s, when I was about 15, I was pondering how a political process whereby a political fringe had managed to capture a perfectly adequate dual house parliamentary system and impose a largely unwelcome and undesirable system (the apartheid system) on the masses of the population of a country (SA), could have come about. From that came a proposal for an upper house of parliament (I called it a house of censure) which was drawn from the streets rather than the political establishment, and through which all legislation and regulation must be passed for approval. Of course I was 15 or so, and nothing came of it beyond it being a proposal.

Over the years, the proposal became more sophisticated and concrete and I stopped calling the house one of censure, and identified it as a Senate.

In the 1990s, when the CODESA was in process I submitted my Senate proposal to CODESA l and ll, as many did. The proposal was ignored. I happened at the time to be living across the road from Mac Maharaj, then the ANC’s spin doctor. I challenged him on the fact that my proposal had not even been acknowledged. He stood on the other side of his gate and held his hand about chest high above the ground and said, what did I expect them to do with a pile of proposals that high. The inference being that CODESA was a farce and was merely a vehicle to impose the opinions of the few on the many and is merely a sop to consultation. I learned this form of consultation is typical of the ANC.

Time moved on. In 2012 the Direct Democracy Forum was formed using TEAL and the Senate proposals as the foundation of DDF policies. These policies have since been added to by a Basic Income Grant and a Sovereign Wealth Fund (amongst other policies).

Now in 2018, I read an article published June 2016 in the Guardian’s long read series, by David Van Reybrouck titled “Why elections are bad for democracy” arguing very persuasively that representative democracy and elected politicians are failing us, their constituents, where “common interest lose out to short term and party interests”, and where “winning the next election has become more important than fulfilling the promises made in the last”, and that in it’s place was needed something like “the central principle of Athenian democracy, drafting by lot, or sortition”, where those drafted were immersed in the details of every legislative and regulatory proposal and so could vote from an informed position on the issues. Thus ” a cross-section of society that is informed can act more coherently than an entire society that is uninformed”.

How does that vindicate the DDF Senate policies? It does so because sortition describes exactly what the DDF Senate policy is about.

It is significant that sortition is being used more and more to resolve issues that party-political electioneering and periodic visits to voting stations have been unable to resolve. This has occurred “in the US, Australia and the Netherlands” and most innovatively in Ireland. In December 2012, a constitutional convention began, drawing on “33 elected politicians and 66 citizens, drafted by lot, from both Ireland and Northern Ireland” .. who .. “met one weekend per month for more than a year”.

In this, the Irish approach, the convention drew up proposals to go before parliament. In the DDF approach, the Senate would be required to approve or reject legislation or regulation emanating from Parliament or Cabinet. So one is doing it one way, the other is doing it the other way. But the same essential principle is being applied. Get the approval of ordinary opinion, first or last in the process, but getting that approval is essential, which ever way you do it.

I believe all of this vindicates the DDF’s Senate policy and proposals and although it is a 60 year old story for me, the story still has some chapters to be written. Those chapters cover implementing a sortition Senate and the many more chapters thereafter where sortition builds a better South Africa for all.

Indians for Free

In an article “money-for-nothing-and-your-indians-for-free“,  Verashni Pillay of the M & G points out that “The issue among the ANC is that the wrong people were bankrolling and influencing our politicians, of which the ruling party sees nothing untoward” and “a much larger issue that continues to be ignored by the ANC: (is) their corrupt and problematic relationship with certain business people”.

So, if Ms Pillay is right, the ANC rank and file see nothing wrong with SA’s government being bought and paid for by wealthy South African oligarchs, they just have a problem when the oligarchs are foreign.

Of course, the idea that ‘Indians’ are for free is entirely false.  Indians, or for that matter, Africans, Asians, Europeans or Americans who buy and pay for you, are definitely not for free.  There will always be a day of reckoning and that day could be a very expensive day indeed.

The Direct Democracy Forum‘s take on influence is that all sectors of the economy have a stake in the country.  Business, small and large, labour, collective and individual, consumers, the employed and the unemployed, and students, and so on, ad infinitum, all have a stake in this land, which is why the DDF are proposing a Senate which is drawn from the streets, the foundation of which will be a process of Deliberative Democracy engaging a cross-section of society rather than only the political elite and those who have privileged access to that elite.  With similar systems at municipal levels, our national and local politicians will forever be grounded in the needs of the people, the needs of society at large and the needs of its environs.

These are not populist moves designed to attract popular votes, although they may well have that effect, but are an acknowledgement that no one has a better idea of a citizen’s needs than does that citizen himself, and that the DDF believe that those needs must be acknowledged and responded to with the same concern and alacrity as were the concerns and needs of the Gupta wedding party under an ANC administration.  Under a DDF administration, government and access to government will never be the exclusive privilege of an exclusive club but rather will be in response to the needs of the people.  DDF Policies are geared toward serving the economy and all those in it, rich and poor alike.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Local Government_bg

Background: 

Local Government Service Delivery is a very vexing problem.  Probably more turmoil and strife are caused by poor local government and service delivery than almost any other factor in  South Africa.

Local Government Services:

The principle services which are supposed to be delivered by local governments include:

  • Water supply
  • Sewage collection and disposal
  • Refuse removal
  • Electricity and gas supply
  • Municipal health services
  • Municipal roads and storm water drainage
  • Street lighting
  • Municipal parks and recreation

To which we would add the provision of adequate and affordable public transport services and affordable and adequate housing for the needy.

Structures:

There are well defined structures and methodologies, and some strong institutional support systems, for example The SA Local Government Association at the Education and Training Unit (ETU) for Delivery and Development and at theirToolboxpages where various topics are discussed and developed BUT when we went searching for formal training in Municipal Management we found only one course, and that a one year non degree course run by the University of Johannesburg.  Hopefully other courses exists but we are simply unaware of them.

Problems with Local Government:

The Direct Democracy Forum’s (DDF’s) perception is that, as with so many areas of endeavour in South Africa, while there are the best of intentions and many of the correct things done and the correct levels of finance applied, this somehow doesn’t result in effective service delivery and customer satisfaction.

The  DDF attribute this to a number of factors, rooted mainly in the ANC’s top-down management strategy as evidenced by its cadre deployment both at local government management and local government council selection.  We list below the main problems we see in no particular order – meaning that each problem is critical! 

Current problems resulting in poor Municipal management and service delivery:

  • Cadre deployment to management and councils.
  • Lack of expertise and skills at council level
  • Lack of expertise and skills at management level
  • Lack of expertise and skills in the workforce.
  • Lack of proper planning, budgeting, financial management and control.
  • Lack of motivation and upward mobility for the workforce.
  • Lack of accountability.
  • Lack of transparency.
  • Lack of project management skills.
  • Lack of infrastructure management, maintenance and renewal.
  • Lack of formal municipal management education and training.
  • Side-lining skills of older generations of municipal management.
  • Side-lining skills of older generations in the municipal workforce.
  • Lack of commitment to transparency and quality of service delivery at all levels.
  • Lack of adequate response to legitimate grievances from constituents.
  • Lack of response to calls for service.

Much of our reservations are reflected in the attached Municipal Infrastructure paper produced by the CSIR in 2006.  A bit dated, yes, but probably more relevant now than then and deserving of determined response by national and local government.

Strategies: