Event Reports

Political Parties in South Africa

Do they undermine or underpin Democracy?

Offering a new contribution to the assessment of the health of South Africa´s political system, the book launch held in Durban on July 25 gathered authors as well as an interested audience to introduce and discuss the new publication.

The book launch aimed at initiating a public discussion about the current political system in South Africa. It was outlined that it is of outmost importance to encourage civil society to actively participate in shaping politics because the South African politicians will not work for the population but for the party that appointed them. Even though it is the will of the people that is supposed to determine politics in a democratic system, in South Africa citizens vote for a party not a politician. This implies that the decision-makers cannot be held responsible for their actions. As a result, the role of the political parties should be questioned to provoke new perspectives because even though the ANC lost popularity among its target group, it remains the dominant party in parliament as it does represent the interests of the elite that has enormous power and influence. However, there happen to be more and more conflicts within the ANC, creating different camps and limiting its efficiency significantly. There is the common understanding that South Africa has a good governance deficit but there is no concrete evidence to change anything because the ruling party makes the population believe that it actually does participate in politics. The system as such is flawed and even though the ANC never claimed to be a socialist party but a nationalist one, the context nowadays has changed. Many political parties lack the ability to create a collective vision for the country and its people. Unity cannot be built by solely repeating slogans demanding Zuma to step down. Political statements might address all the right aspects, however, the parties often lack the drive and the courage to act. Furthermore, it was highlighted that especially students and young adults should focus on how they can not only change their own but also the future of their country because voter turnout in South Africa, just like in Germany, remains rather low.

Tilmann Feltes, KAS, begrüßt die Teilnehmer
Introducing Remarks
Über 70 Teilnehmer nahmen an der Veranstaltung teil
In der Diskussion meldeten sich auch einige  Parlamentsabgeordnete zu Wort (hier_ Former ANC MP und DDP Board Member, Dr