30 Years in:  There is an Urgent Need for Ethical Reform in South African Politics

30 Years in:  There is an Urgent Need for Ethical Reform in South African Politics
Ethical Reform in South African Politics. Image source: Pixabay

As South Africa braces for the national general elections (the sixth installment), the political arena buzzes with anticipation and speculation. However, amidst the flurry of campaigning and pledges, a critical query looms large: who wields power, and at what expense?

The saying “better the devil you know” carries weight in our present political climate. With millions of rands funnelling into the coffers of various political factions from identical sources, we must probe the motives behind such contributions. Are they driven by genuine endorsement of a party’s vision, or do they serve as tools for securing influence and immunity from scrutiny?

It’s disquieting to witness individuals or entities dispersing donations among multiple parties, seemingly hedging their bets to ensure access across the power spectrum. This practice raises profound concerns about the integrity of our political system and the potential for undue influence to skew the democratic process.

Moreover, the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding these donations is deeply troubling. Without clear mechanisms for monitoring and disclosing the utilisation of these funds, there’s ample room for misappropriation and manipulation. This opacity erodes the electorate’s trust and fosters a culture of suspicion and disillusionment.

The allocation of substantial sums to political parties, especially newcomers, demands scrutiny. Who appraises the value of these parties, and what justifies such hefty financial support? Without a proven track record of effective governance, the influx of funds raises questions about the integrity of our political institutions and the motives behind such generosity.

Furthermore, the intended purpose of these donations remains ambiguous. While ostensibly supporting parties in their electoral endeavours, the lack of accountability raises doubts about whether they genuinely serve the public interest. Could these funds be better directed toward addressing pressing social issues like housing, unemployment, and poverty alleviation?

The imperative for reform in our political system has never been more pressing. It’s time to demand greater transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct from our political leaders and institutions. Entities like the South African Revenue Service (SARS) should intervene to track political donations and ensure they contribute to societal betterment, perhaps by imposing taxes on a portion of these funds for charitable or welfare purposes.

Additionally, we must confront the systemic inequalities and inefficiencies plaguing our government institutions. By implementing fair and transparent party deployment policies and appointing qualified individuals based on merit rather than political connections, we can begin to restore trust in our governance structures.

Ultimately, the future of South African politics hinges on our ability to confront these challenges head-on. We must reclaim our democracy from the clutches of vested interests and ensure that the voices of the people, not the whims of the wealthy few, shape our nation’s trajectory. Only then can we forge a more just, equitable, and prosperous South Africa for all its citizens.

The need to reform the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is underscored by the issues evident in the “Umkhonto WeSizwe” party saga, including inconsistencies in handling independent candidates. Our political systems have been severely tested, and it’s imperative that South Africa ensures integrity in the upcoming elections on May 29, 2024. I firmly believe our electoral system is threatened by capture, and we must ensure independence and unblemished governance without interference.

The ANC, after 30 years without a significant challenger, now faces uncertainty, potentially paving the way for a coalition government. We must strive for a strong South Africa to maintain its status as the breadbasket of Africa. As the West and East make strides in their development, it’s crucial for us to bring reforms to our economy and ensure socio-economic stability and growth in GDP per capita.

Will the ANC secure a two-thirds majority as campaigning nears its end, or will South Africans opt for a more diversified governance through coalition? Only time will reveal the outcomes.

[Nkhoma, a business leader with expertise in public relations, marketing, and communications, contributes to this discussion.]