Joburg Advocacy Group (JAG): A Social Contract with the Electorate

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A Social Contract with the Electorate

JAG sent out the following statement to all network partners, associates, residents' associations and local media yesterday. We feel this is an extremely important development in the move towards a more direct, accountable and people-centred democracy in South Africa:

The Joburg Advocacy Group (JAG) has been running a direct democracy campaign in the run-up to the local government elections on 18 May. As part of this campaign, we approached all of the major political parties and asked them if they would be prepared to have their candidates sign a social contract committing them to the principles of direct democracy and to being directly responsible to the electorate should they be voted into office.

Neither the ruling party nor the official opposition agreed - and nor did the IFP, UDM, AZAPO, ACDP or FF+ - but all COPE and IRASA-affiliated independent candidates have agreed to sign. This is the first time that a political party or political grouping has agreed to make this kind of commitment and we feel it’s a positive move. This might provide voters with the opportunity to begin working towards a new, more accountable and people-centred democracy in South Africa.

We invite you to advise your members/readers/listeners/viewers and any interested and affected parties of this development.

A copy of the contract all COPE candidates have agreed to sign, which is based on the one we developed in association with veteran democracy activist, Jim Powell, can be viewed here.


Cassim Farouk said...

Isn't it odd that all of the other parties are baulking at this positive development, except for COPE. Cope's manifesto is also streets ahead of other parties in keeping people truly empowered. All of the others are seeking power rather than empowering the people. In Milnerton the Social Contract signed by 5 candidates was witnessed by 55 members of the public. This document will be handed to IDASA for safekeeping.

Cassim Farouk said...

Please see:
to understand how far COPE is willing to go in achieving a truly people-centred government.

JAG said...

Yup, we're deeply concerned that both the ruling party and the official opposition in particular have fought us tooth and nail on the issue of signing a social contract with the voters. As we see it, this confirms the fact that the current party political system is about obtaining and maintaing power rather than about serving the people.

We nevertheless believe that direct democracy will, sooner rather than later, sweep away the old winner-takes-all system and will usher in a new form of democracy that will be characterised by an active collaboration between freely-selected, elected and directly accountable public representatives and the people themselves. Developments all over the world indicate that this is an idea whose time has come. People want more direct control over the political process, and nothing is going to stop that.

Westminster-style party politics came into being at a different time in history and at in a completely different social, political and social context to the one we're living in SA today. So, not only has it reached its expirey date

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