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Justin G Steyn has drafted his own set of commandments for socially responsible South African citizens.
Johannesburg - I was bemused to note that some people see the ANC as the full expression of the will of the people, and drafted these 10 commandments in response to the seemingly blindly loyal 10 commandments expressed by another reader. I think politically aware South African citizens ought to live by these commandments or risk having allegations levelled at them that they may be extensively lacking the civic competency and education that enables civil social choices to be made on who governs and on what basis such governance is exercised.
There is no such thing as my government, right or wrong – unless one lives in a communist country – but my country, right or wrong is globally understood.
1. You shall honour the constitution and have no other assumptions or laws before it. Citizens must make themselves aware that the constitution guarantees us rights to social welfare, not the ruling party, whoever it is. Do not be overawed by the extra R10 in each social welfare grant or the fact that there is a grant at all. It is an entitlement guaranteed by law.
2. You will not worship false political assumptions. The party in power should not think that it is anything more than a steward of and prioritising agency for social resource expenditures. It is not a patron whose largesse will be halted should some other party win at the ballot box.
3. You will not bow down to elected leaders or serve them. When we vote, we should honestly express our level of satisfaction with the directors and managers. The party in power is merely a management team that serves us.
4. You will not kill your democracy. Mutual accountability is an unassailable right. When government officials or state employees do wrong, whether criminal or negligent, they must explain themselves to us by means of a due process and we have a right to see them impeached or fired if we are not satisfied with the veracity of the evidence or response.
5. You shall not prostitute yourself to patrons. We have the right to expect that we will be widely and comprehensively consulted on any state policy or programme, which will eventually be to all our benefit. We cannot be impressed by any state-led development that fails to promote universal citizen ownership of policies or programmes and benefits but a few.
6. Honour your democracy so that it may endure. Do not think that a Struggle history is a gauge of performance or an indicator of legitimacy. While many people are emotionally attached or think that another party cannot do the same job of giving us as much free stuff as the ruling party, we cannot expect a single party dominant state to perform to higher standards unless we periodically threaten it with ejection from office.
7. You shall not covet resources of the state. The state is not a natural benefactor or a patron. The state is there to enable us to become more productive citizens, not better consumers. If we are still consuming more than we produce 20 years on, there is something wrong with us and our elected stewards.
8. You will not lie or misrepresent yourself in order to get state tenders. We want an authentic market economy that delivers value to all of its citizens. If the incompetent or dishonest get tenders, we don’t get our rightful services at the right quality.
9. You will oppose those who are corrupt, peddle influence, pervert the course of justice or bribe their way into the favour of the state’s management team.
If we respect the rule of law, then we will ensure that anyone who engages in these behaviours is ejected from public office or the public service.
This means there will be fewer resources stolen and conspicuously consumed, and therefore more resources for service delivery.
10. You will honour your public holidays and participate in their celebration. In order to build a sense of common purpose and national identity, this is one of the commandments that should become a key feature of our social coexistence.
If it worked in Soweto with rugby, it can work in the FNB stadium and any other congregational venue.
I hope these 10 commandments of democracy are just as well received as the cadre creed was.
Justin G Steyn