How do you think the structure of South Africa's government enables / restricts the representation of the will of the people?
I would like to start-off by first asserting that when people are voted into power (government), they are often the entrusted individuals – from councilor to state president. Citizens vote these parties or individuals based on what the parties’ driving ideology is and/or its historical significance and ultimately what the manifesto says. As such, these entrusted individuals are then compelled to ensure that the manifesto as promised manifests into service delivery. However, this situation as stated has not been fully happening, meaning, government has had challenges in providing absolute service delivery.
This then sums my point to say, the structure of the South African government is such that the will of the people can be heard. In fact, it is possible through this electoral system to ensure that the will of the people is heard. However, there seems to be severe constraints that makes the will of the people to not be represented. What can these constraints be? The ascent of man to power has become the society’ enemy. Meaning, from the time many got access to state resources, they then started enjoying the bourgeoisie lifestyle and actively participated in the capitalist system and blindly forgetting what they’ve promised the citizens on the ground. On these grounds, uncultured and unlearned men and women who have not been taught leadership unfortunately could not deliver as promised.
In conclusion, the electoral system and its government is viable for citizen inclusion and representation, however, the type of leadership that needs to ensure this reality rather makes it seem restrictive.
What institutions exist to provide support for citizens who are not directly represented by a political party and do you think they are effective?
It is unfortunate that in the South African society, one needs mass action to demonstration the seriousness of matters. Political parties are organize structures forums that represent a segment or portion of citizens (membership). Furthermore, these are structures that are recognized by the government structures and this then inevitably means that those that subscribe to the ideologies of a certain party will then be catered for in government. The unfortunate part of this government structure is that smaller parties or individuals will often lose by votes in parliament or legislature as the majority parties will support ‘party line’. Party line is not necessarily a bad thing just that some people will not be in favor of that motion or that party agenda. The least that that individuals in government can do is to support a majority party or coalition or perhaps co-opting the majority parties to buy into their suggestions. Other than that, individuals not subscribing to any major party will most often not be recognized.
On the other hand, like I have alluded earlier, those who do not form part of any ‘political party’ rather needs to recollect themselves to form a mass/mob team that will demonstrate a mass/mob action. Looking back, many students and other citizens across the country have been rallying behind the #FeesMustFall #DecoloniseTheCurriculum #RhodesMustFall social cohesion forums to gain the attention of government. These actions are massive and are not necessarily distinguished political parties. Therefore, resorting to similar actions will inevitable get the voices of those not subscribed to any political be heard and represented. Other than that, options are minimal and tiresome.
Does the separation of powers work effectively in South Africa? If yes, why? If no, what would you like to see changed?
Yes, I believe the separation of power works very well amongst the various spheres of government. These spheres are Local, Provincial and National Government.
At a local level, citizens or residents are faced with mainly service delivery issues which I often call the ‘bread and butter’ issues. I then believe these issues are at the immediate attention of local government, the councillor. Issues of service delivery may include housing, sanitation, local economy development, etc. these as mentioned too are for the administration of local government.
The provincial and national echelons of government are however responsible for issues like education, social development, health and no an extent jobs, poverty, etc. Therefore, as per the various functions, the separation of power works effectively.
In conclusion, the councilor has his responsibilities and accounts to the Municipal Council which accounts to the MEC for Cooperative Governance and the MEC accounts to the premier and the Minister of cooperative governance. This indicates that, though the spheres are independently separated, there is a link of accountability from local to national government. This is then the epitome of an efficient democratic government.