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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 13, No. 34, 28 August 2014

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Infiltration of state institutions by populism and external forces

By Cde Solly Mapaila

Advocate Thuli Madonsela's political attitude displayed in the name of the Office of the Public Protector must be rejected. For a while now, Madonsela's actions and utterances suggest that she believes, despite claims to the contrary, that she is above other state institutions supporting democracy, the Executive and Parliament. Not least her latest letter to the President by its hostile tone and innuendo has the effect of deepening negative public perception about the President and our democratic institutions; like other previous documents from the Office of the Public Protector this letter has been leaked to the media. Clearly this behaviour confirms the existence of an ‘above-all' attitude which has the effect of undermining other branches of the state and relevant institutions.

According to media reports, Thuli Madonsela said we must "back off" and thereby stop expressing our views about the conduct of affairs handled by the Office of the Pubic Protector. It is when citizens are told to "back off" from the state as she did, that state institutions become isolated from the people and democracy. Without any shred of defence they thus begin to serve private personal, political and class interests. As citizens we should not allow this to happen unchallenged, and critical voices trivialised and simplistically characterised as attacks to justify ill-conceived actions supported by the opposition parties.

The South African society is organised differently from the conferences where, as the ANC has noted, Madonsela badmouths our country and government leaders, and for this receives applause. In South Africa, freedom of expression is not an exclusive preserve of the "like minded" - the freedom to agree; it is equally importantly freedom to disagree and to disapprove publicly when a state institution is used in a manner other than what it was originally established for.

SACP Central Committee (24-08-2014) said:

"…while respecting the office of the Public Protector, the Party is concerned at the constant over-reaching by Advocate Thuli Madonsela that wittingly or unwittingly plays into an anti-democratic regime-change agenda that seeks to portray the entirety of government as corrupt".

If this behaviour is not addressed, our democracy will be weakened from within state institutions. Similarly, it is in this context that the Party expressed its concern about the turmoil taking place in the National Prosecuting Authority.

The Public Protector has handed over to Parliament her investigative report into the security upgrades at the Nkandla residence of the President - this after stating through the media that she would not hand over the report to the President. Parliament is attending to this matter in terms of the powers vested upon it by the Constitution, and needs to be given both space and time to do its work.

The Office of the Public Protector was not meant to handle affairs according to events in the realm of politics - it was established as one of our Constitution's Chapter 9 institutions to support democracy. The conduct of affairs by Madonsela therefore has to be consistent and principled. Institutions supporting democracy, as well as other branches of the state, the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary, must be seen to be complementary. They should mutually reinforce each other within the prescripts of the principles of institutional independence and separation of powers. These institutions and the many organs that fall under them must function and handle their affairs in terms of the principles of co-operative governance, rather than compete with, or disrespect, each other.

Likewise, the state must not have any of its institutions or organs harbouring competing interests that are hostile to the democratic revolutionary movement and thus producing internal turmoil or aggression towards other state establishments, all in pursuit of narrow political and private class interests. We must remain vigilant about this and nip it in the bud.

Many of us as citizens not only respect but will defend the Office of the Public Protector as we do with other state institutions that affect our lives in one way or another. This includes, if need be, defending that office from attacks emanating from unwarranted conduct by any incumbent. We fought for the birth of this democracy, and we will continue the struggle for it to grow and mature to its fullest. Communist cadres were in the frontline of our liberation struggle, and in the negotiations from which our country's Constitution was developed.

State institutions established to support democracy form part of our Constitution. This is the fruit in the first instance of our struggle and our work. While we fought and negotiated for the birth of our democracy, others, who are concentrated in today's DA, were only concerned about the so-called qualified franchise, which is nothing but an undemocratic arrangement for a minority in the name of democracy. After all, apartheid was a qualified franchise - those who enjoyed it called it democracy. Today very few are brave enough to admit that they ever supported apartheid, including the majority of DA members and supporters.

The DA as a party of white privilege has no democratic credentials. It did not take part in the process of struggle for majority rule. This is why many in its ranks and who support it in the media and elsewhere remain anti-majoritarian in their attitude to democracy. The DA, even in its earlier manifestation as the "Progressive Party" was led by people who recognised that apartheid was doomed and therefore needed a new strategy to defend their unchanged racial and class interests.

The circumstances in the late 1980s and early 1990s forced us to adopt certain compromises in order to remove apartheid and take a major step forward. We never had any intention of remaining forever in the compromise position of the early 1990s. This is why today we are talking about the second radical phase of transition. This is why our enemies in the DA, apartheid operatives, imperialists and our detractors alike will stop at nothing to infiltrate and use state organs to disrupt our democracy. Because they have consistently lost in the battle for democracy, their agenda is to use undemocratic entryist methods to capture certain elements within, and systematically build opposition leadership in, state organs in order to pursue their narrow class and political interests bent against the revolutionary democratic movement. In this they are being assisted by the heavily funded pseudo-left forces masquerading as the left and right-wing forces.

It would be naïve, for example, to think that all the operatives who served the apartheid state with varying degrees of willingness and who were maintained in various branches of the state after 1994 embrace the democratic process that we are driving through the national democratic revolution. It will be naïve, too, to think that the relationship between former prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach and the DA started only on the day that it announced her as its Parliamentary candidate. According to news24 (2014-01-26), Breytenbach's name was one of the six that the DA had kept confidential when it released its consolidated lists of candidates.

In defence of our democracy, and in line with our programme to build working class power in all key sites of struggle, we must fortify all our trenches to ensure that no outside or foreign agenda finds its way into any public institution to undermine and destroy our democratic revolutionary process from within the state.

Also, there is an emerging trend to place prosecutorial decisions on review by the courts. This must be looked at as it has the potential of fundamentally altering the principles that underpin our democracy, in particular the principles of institutional independence and separation of powers. If the court instructs the public prosecutor to charge a person how can the prosecutor be independent and how can the court carry out a fair trial or handle an appeal arising out of the charges?

Our determination to defend our state institutions and Constitution is, however, not a conservative affair. In contrast to those who harbour a conservative agenda which functions like a brake against our march forward, our revolutionary programme is aimed at advancing and deepening our Constitution towards a fully developed democracy in both theory and practice. This period of transition from colonialism, apartheid and the economic exploitation which formed the foundation upon which both the two super-structures of oppression were erected, requires continuous improvement until all the goals of the Freedom Charter, which defines the basic vision of our democracy, have been completely achieved.

Let us remain vigilant in protecting state (i.e. Constitution, Chapter 9) institutions established to support democracy from populism and abuse by external forces including narrow opposition parties which have no interest in building a united and democratic South Africa.

Let us remain vigilant in defending our democracy!

Cde Solly Mapaila is SACP 2nd Deputy General Secretary