As the political dust settles after the release of the last installation of the State Capture Commission of Inquiry (Zondo Commission), the author’s concern about the state of South Africa’s democracy becomes crystal clear in the subtext of report.
Primarily, the Zondo Commission represents a legal process in which State Capture allegations are tested.
The numerous reports flowing from the Commission make recommendations for further legal action to be taken against the identified parties, and which laws should be amended or introduced.
That’s literally, superficial reading of reports.
However, on the other side of the coin, the entire collection of Zondo Commission reports simultaneously serves as one of the most important political texts written about the state of the country and its post-democracy institutions.
Although not intended, and not explicitly specified in the terms of reference of the inquiry, the Zondo Commission reports constitute an analysis of South Africa’s center of political power, the use of political power, the symbols of political power. and political performance. power.
Most importantly, the reports inadvertently emphasize the existence of a power vacuum that has caused the country to be vulnerable to the kind of political excesses that have resulted in the institutionalization of capture.
Some experts view Luthuli House, the headquarters of the African National Congress (ANC), as South Africa’s center of power, while others point to the Union Buildings, the executive seat of power.
The former represents a party-centric view of power and the latter supports a statistical understanding of power.
In the context of the commission’s reports, the center of power in South Africa is folded, be it within the party environment or in the state machinery.
When the center does not hold on to either of those two kingdoms, that will open the doors for the overthrow of the use of political power.
Evidence presented before the commission shows that high political and professional prices were paid by many when they revealed the anomalies occurring in the decade of the floods.
The drafting of deviations from legitimate and recognized party norms and state conventions, in turn, revealed the use of political power contrary to what was previously permitted and thought to be acceptable.
The political vacuum has facilitated, and continues, the long -standing misuse of political power – whether in the party or within the state.
The dysfunctional center of power in the party or state creates favorable conditions for the highest office in any domain to be used as vehicles for the exploitation and benefit of individuals.
The dichotomy is that the center of power in the party and state maintains the illusion of control and normality, while backroom reality points in the opposite direction.
That, in part, explains how State Capture happened and why it was a successful business for its architects.
In other words, the center of power – even collapsing – in the party and within the state has become a convenient smoke for misuse when exercising political power.
If combined, the creaking center of power and the misuse of political power have fostered and deepened the political vacuum. Neither the party nor the state can close the growing schism between the center of power and the exercise of political power.
Although the ANC’s electoral dominance is waning, it remains leading the symbols of the country’s political power: Parliament and the Presidency, taken to represent the executive – two of the state’s three weapons.
As noted above, there is no center of power in the party or state. It also played out in Parliament, where the shortcomings of the party and the executive were not only accepted but also legitimized.
Parliament’s actions over the decade of decline show that the institution has combined its mandate with the party and head of state.
Parliament reiterates that it has thwarted numerous attempts to hold the executive and the heads of state-owned businesses accountable. It weakened Parliament as an institution of democracy and as a symbol of political power.
The observations made about Parliament in the last reports of the Zondo Commission are worth further reading and studying.
Instead of acting as a standalone symbol of political power, Parliament was lowered to the level of party considerations and executive exploitation.
That’s somewhat problematic for a constitutional democracy like South Africa, whose heads of Chapter 9 institutions are appointed through parliamentary procedures.
It can be argued that an unstable center of power – with its exploitative use of power and symbols of political power acting as dull party and executive instruments – is associated with the performance of political power inconsistent with aspirations. . and political aspirations. BM/DM
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