Mzwanele Manyi is the president of the Progressive Professionals Forum.  Photo: Sibusiso Ndlovu
Mzwanele Manyi is the president of the Progressive Professionals Forum. Photo: Sibusiso Ndlovu

Forum calls for SA to ditch Constitution

By Luyolo Mkentane Time of article published Jan 25, 2017

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Johannesburg - South Africa must abandon its constitution and embrace a majoritarian parliamentary system in order to address the socio-economic challenges besetting the country.

The country’s constitutional democracy was also not the brainchild of the ruling ANC, but rather the idea of the Broederbond.

These were the remarks made by the president of the Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF), Mzwanele Manyi, in Joburg on Tuesday, following their national executive committee meeting at the weekend.

He said the concept of constitutional democracy was a ploy by the Broederbond to ensure that government’s intervention was somewhat limited in addressing the country’s structural challenges.

“We are sitting here today with a constitutional democracy that we are vouching for. But this constitutional democracy is actually at the centre of producing all kinds of spiralling poverty that we are having in this country, the spiralling inequality, the spiralling unemployment. Yet we’ve got this constitutional democracy,” said Manyi, the former chief executive of the Government Communication and Information System.

He said the ANC took many progressive resolutions at its national elective conference in 2007 and one of them was to ban labour brokers.

“When we came back to try and implement that, we found that the constitution says, ‘No, Section 22 of the constitution of this country gives rights to freedom of trade and all kinds of things’ … and therefore it would be unconstitutional to ban labour brokers,” Manyi added.

“In other words, it is unconstitutional to take our people from slavery. It is unconstitutional to take our people from mayhem and abuse. What kind of a constitution is this? And therefore we are also saying this constitution, purported to be the best in the world, why is it that not even one country is copying it? Something must give.”

He called for a public debate on the pros and cons of rejecting constitutional democracy for a parliamentary democracy in order to ensure a “smooth transition”. Manyi suggested that the time had come to re-look into the possibility of whether “we shouldn’t move into parliamentary democracy”.

“The PPF’s view is that our forebears must have had majoritarianism in their construct of democracy. This is our view. We don’t think what we have is majoritarianism. And we are saying if constitutional democracy is better than majoritarianism, let’s have that discussion,” he said.

“Right now we are not convinced, and we are saying we need to have that discussion as South Africa.”

Political analyst Dumisani Hlophe said that what the PPF was calling for was doable as long as there was enough support and political will. The forum, he said, was within its rights to advocate for policy proposals they thought would be ideal for South Africa.

“In South Africa, there’s a tendency to castigate individuals who are not conforming to the mainstream thinking of society,” said Hlophe.

But fellow political analyst Prince Mashele said the PPF’s proposal was impossible under the current political system.

Mashele also accused the forum of being ignorant of the fact that the constitution was a “negotiated product and the ANC led the negotiations that led to its adoption”.

@luyolomkentane

Political Bureau

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