It’s not who political candidates serve, but who they harm
CAPE TOWN – Is it really so radical to say let’s vote for independent candidates because political parties are not suited to their objectives?
From Manguzi in KwaZulu-Natal to Alexander Bay in the Northern Cape, city councilors are there to represent everyone, not just members of political parties who in most cases take the first step in nominating them for election .
Now that we’ve seen the faces of political parties and independent candidates, it’s time to rethink what “representation” means to all of us and give independent candidates a chance on November 1.
More and more people are starting to see it. Not clearly, but something is looming. When independent candidates represent a historically significant number of the roughly 100,000 candidates running in local elections, something inspiring begins to confront us no matter how much we would like to look away.
In our constitutional democracy, the process of selecting public representatives is primarily governed by two sets of organizational and institutional rules: candidate selection methods framed by party rules and state electoral laws, respectively.
Except when we have independent candidates running for election in most constituencies, in order to present a potential outcome that can drastically shift political power from parties to individuals.
In elections, independent candidates are likely to influence the shape and size of political coalitions in small and large municipalities in a different way than when only political parties dictated with whom and under what conditions to constitute municipal councils.
The general profile of independent candidates tells encouraging stories of a sharp break with party factionalism, in the main political parties represented in the National Assembly, which has crippled internal democratic processes for the nomination of candidates for elections.
This is clearly more than “unruly and disaffected” former members of any political party. It is clearly not just the usual level of adventurousness that we have come to accept as an election background noise. And this is clearly happening far enough in the 257 municipalities that it raises questions about the political force behind the increase in the number of independent candidates running for office, their credibility and the problems they bring to the table. attention of voters.
The questions are not just about the failure of political parties – the failure suggests that the system is trying to prevent this new model of eliminating the politics of dominant political parties by representing the people well but failing to do so.
Instead, we should ask ourselves what about corrupt cadre deployment policies that seem to sabotage the image and conduct of public officials in the eyes of the people.
Perhaps the corrupt politicians of the various political parties are not simply a reflection of the evils of society, but built to support them?
What if party-affiliated politicians don’t occasionally harm us in the way their corruption and misuse of public resources undermines public confidence in our democracy?
What if they did not fulfill their primary function of representing our collective interests at all, instead of their narrow political interests and personal pockets?
Sadly, the Pretoria High Court granted the Zondo commission its fifth extension to finalize its work on September 29, with its report on the state capture due in late December.
The delay puts citizens at a disadvantage in an election year, as the report is expected to serve as a precise measurement tool to help voters eliminate corrupt candidates wherever they are disguised in elections.
Once we start asking you questions, we start to see not who the candidates of political parties serve, but who they harm.
The answer is, a lot of people. We can run a quick experiment to test where you land on either side of the divide.
If you see a political party leader, political party flag, or political party candidate poster, do you feel encouraged to vote for them or do you feel slightly on the edge?
If your reaction is the first, then you are in luck. If so, you are joining the millions of citizens who have been lied to, stolen, forced to live in harsh conditions in communities that no longer receive basic services and have been denied the opportunity to earn their money. life because of corruption and nepotism.
There are a lot of people who admire independent candidates this time around because they believe that political parties have become a handicap in our democracy, not only because they have gone astray, but because they function exactly as they are. the way their corrupt members and leaders designed them to do. They wield disproportionate and coercive power to maintain a social order that protects the corrupt elite by offering them unlimited access to state resources and victimizing the rest of the general population who are pacified by believing that political parties are in them. render service by facilitating the enjoyment of their human rights.
This does not mean that there are a lot of party candidates in the election who are on the right side.
Many have worked hard to earn another term by implementing the Batho Pele principles of good government.
But once the historic threads are linked, they cannot be separated by empty political party promises to redeem themselves, or their superficial placement on the candidate lists of individuals who are not card-holder members. left. Even when we recognized the extent of the problem, we failed to take positive action by supporting independent candidates.
Some decided not to vote and others decided to vote for another political party. All in the name of protest. This time we have another choice to vote as we wish, except to stay away from the vote.
When we say that political parties are a handicap because of their corruption, we are inadvertently obscuring, rather than revealing, the real scale of the problem. The problem is not structural, it is fundamental, even founding.
It is based on a conceptualization which makes a distinction between two families of constitutionally anchored political rights; those enjoyed exclusively by individual citizens (such as the right to vote and the right to run for public office) and those that can be exercised collectively within the framework of a political party (such as the right to personal liberty). ‘association).
When we think and see it this way, we can answer whether or not it is radical to vote for independent candidates in order to uproot corrupt politicians embedded in political parties.
Nyembezi is a human rights activist and political analyst