Democracy & Governance

The relationship between democracy and governance and the realisation of socio-economic rights is an important issue for debate. SACSIS seeks to understand this relationship and identify issues that act as barriers to pro-poor democracy.

Why the Poor Vote for the ANC

Picture credit: Kids Britannica Mohamed Motala - For middle class South Africans it is a perplexing contradiction that the ANC continues to stay in power despite all the evidence of corruption displayed at the highest level of leadership and the party’s collusion with big corporations that are directly involved in the killing of poor workers. Against the backdrop of Nkandla and Marikana, the seemingly automatic laws of democratic practice enshrined in our Constitution through mechanisms that allow for mandate, accountability and...

If the Democratic Alliance Ran South Africa

Picture credit: Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille courtesy Democratic Alliance/flickr. Glenn Ashton - The Democratic Alliance (DA) in power and Zille as President. What would South Africa be like? There are lessons to be learned from Cape Town and the Western Cape, which have been under DA control since 2006 and 2009 respectively. The party extended its majority by absorbing minority partners including the Independent Democrats (ID), handing its erstwhile leader Patricia de Lille the mayoral chain. There was a predictable outcry in 2009 when Zille appointed a white, male-dominated...

Vote No

Picture credit: Ronnie Kasrils, Former Minister of Intelligence Services in South Africa Richard Pithouse - In recent days Ronnie Kasrils has been referred to as ‘a rebel, a Judas, a scoundrel’, as ‘Satan’, and as a ‘disruptive, reckless and counter-revolutionary’ figure spitting on ‘the long struggles and the sacrifices of our people’. Alistair Sparks, who is routinely introduced as ‘Respected journalist Alistair Sparks’ despite the fact that he’s often little more than an unthinking hack for conservative orthodoxies of various...

Who Are the People?

Picture credit: National Organization For Women (NOWGR) John Feffer - The people have spoken. They have elected a government. No, wait, I hear the angry shouts of a demonstration in the streets. “We are the people,” they are crying. The crowd is getting larger and larger. They are pressing against the gates of parliament and the presidential palace. And now the government has fallen. The people have spoken. I don’t blame you for being just a little confused about the different claimants to the mantle of “the people” in the...

Marikana, Nkandla & Jacob Zuma

Picture credit: President Jacob Zuma courtesy GovernmentZA/flickr Richard Pithouse - Jacob Zuma will not be redeemed by a ‘Lula moment’ or ‘second transition’. His name will go down in history with Marikana and Nkandla. Different people will call the precise moment at which the conflation of the idea of the ANC with the altogether more tawdry realities of the actually existing ANC became both irrational and immoral differently. For some people the tipping point was the South African Communist Party’s embrace of the Soviet invasion of Hungary in...

Celebrating a Murderous State

Picture credit: Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and President Jacob Zuma on the red carpet outside Parliament courtesy GCIS. Richard Pithouse - The public discussion around the pageantry at the annual opening of Parliament often treats the event more like the Oscars than a serious attempt to take some measure of where we are. It is frequently received as if the dignity of the nation is invested in the quality of the spectacle produced by this performance of elite power. With politicians implicitly measured against celebrities disappointments are inevitable. This year the discussion about how people looked and dressed, a discussion...