Cape Town - Citizens should not outsource the responsibility of repairing the country's social ills, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said on Monday.
“Whereas democracy offered every South African the opportunity to take ownership of what happens in our country, for the most part we've outsourced our responsibility,” he said.
“We know what's happening. We just don't act on it.”
He was speaking at Stellenbosch University's Theological Day, where he gave an address on the function of the National Development Plan (NDP).
He said he once showed a community a bar graph of their schools' results, covering up the names and asking them to guess which figures corresponded with which school.
They correctly guessed which schools were doing well and which had problems, but had not taken it further than that.
Manuel said the failure to understand how active citizenship worked was a large measure of what the country was now harvesting. Allowing public figures to get away with being unaccountable was a sign of a lousy democracy, one with laws and a constitution that were not functional.
At the same time, politicians were not the solution to the country's problems.
“Don't look at me and say because you earn your money from politics you are the solution. I am not the solution. I think we need to engage with these issues very differently.
“I'm asking that people in-source responsibility. Don't wait until elections and say 'well I've voted now, let's see what they do'. That's not democracy.”
He said the focus was not on the Cabinet or an individual in the presidency, but how every citizen was required to be responsible.
The NDP was an invitation to active citizenship and leadership which would repair an eroded social compact.
“It's not a plan of government or for government. It's a plan for all of us.” - Sapa