The Resurrection of the Luciferous Demons of Democracy and Archangels of Autocracy, as Peace Disruptors in South Africa (Part 2)
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 7 Aug 2023
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The Decline of Democracy in South Africa Is Propelled by Rampant Corruption and a Legacy of Racism from the Past, with Greed for Materialism, Post Liberation–The Original Philosophy as Espoused by Madiba Is Dead and Buried 
This paper, the second, on the state of global democracy, discusses the unique and peaceful transformation of White, minority ruled and dominated South Africa, into a democratic country in 1994, post liberation from the discriminative, apartheid government, officially, in operation, since 1948, when the White, Nationalist Party was elected to power. Since then, almost three decades, have elapsed, with a progressive erosion of minority rights and a steady decline in the status of democracy, in South Africa.
In this, Part 2, of the series of publications, on progressive erosion of democracy and emergence of autocracy, the author embarks on an exploration of the delicate equilibrium between the actions of the “Luciferous demons of democracy” and the “Archangels of autocracy.” In South Africa, in the 21st century, these terms can be used metaphorically to represent the challenges and virtues that emerged during this complex period of transformation, from a country of brutal apartheid, to a state of Democracy and presently, a state of Pseudo-Democracy prevails.
- “Luciferous Demons of Democracy” can be seen as metaphorically representing the darker aspects and challenges faced during South Africa’s transition to democracy:
- Multicultural and Multiracial Challenges: While the diverse cultural and racial backgrounds of South Africans are a strength, they also presented challenges in and cultural clashes needed to be addressed. South Africa is a country rich in diversity, with various ethnicities and cultures coexisting. While this diversity is a source of strength, it also presented challenges during the transition to democracy. After the end of apartheid, different racial groups had to learn to live and work together, overcoming decades of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination. Example: The African National Congress (ANC), as the ruling party after 1994, faced the challenge of uniting South Africans of different races and cultures under a common vision for the future. The government implemented policies to promote inclusivity, but tensions still emerged due to historical grievances and inequalities.
- Multi-Religious Tensions: South Africa is a country with various religious beliefs, and while religious diversity enriches the nation, it also brought potential tensions and conflicts that needed to be managed to ensure peaceful coexistence. South Africa is home to a variety of religious beliefs, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Traditional African religions. While religious freedom is enshrined in the constitution, tensions arose as different religious communities sought recognition and influence in the newly democratic society. Example: The introduction of religious education in schools became a contentious issue. Some religious groups argued for their beliefs to be taught in schools, while others called for a more secular approach to education to accommodate the diverse religious landscape.
- Multilingual Complexities: South Africa has 11 official languages, which posed communication barriers and challenges for governance, education, and national unity. South Africa has 11 official languages, reflecting its linguistic diversity. This presented both challenges and opportunities in terms of communication, education, and nation-building. Example: The government faced difficulties in providing services and education in all 11 languages. Balancing the need for mother-tongue education with promoting a lingua franca for national unity was a complex task.
- Multi-traditional Struggles: Embracing and respecting traditional customs and practices was important, but some traditional norms were not in line with modern human rights principles, leading to debates and tensions. Traditional customs and practices are deeply ingrained in South African society. However, some practices were at odds with modern human rights principles, particularly concerning women’s rights and gender equality. Example: The issue of lobola (bridewealth) was debated, as it was seen by some as perpetuating a patriarchal system. Balancing the preservation of cultural practices with promoting gender equality became a challenge for policymakers.
- Multi-phenotypic Discrimination: Despite the end of apartheid, discrimination based on physical appearance or skin colour persisted, highlighting the deep-rooted nature of societal prejudice and demonstrating the lasting effects of historical racism. Example: Lighter-skinned individuals often faced privileges and opportunities that were not equally accessible to those with darker skin tones. This phenomenon, known as “colourism,” reflected deep-seated prejudices that required ongoing efforts to address.
- Socioeconomic Inequality: The “bimodal have and have nots” situation refers to the significant wealth gap between the rich and poor, with a minority benefiting disproportionately from the newfound freedoms while many struggled with poverty and inequality. One of the most significant challenges post-1994 was addressing the extreme gap between the wealthy and the impoverished. Despite political freedom, economic freedom was not equally distributed. Example: Many black South Africans, who were historically disadvantaged during apartheid, still struggled with poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to quality education and healthcare. This economic inequality presented a threat to social cohesion and the success of the democratic transition. These examples illustrate some of the challenges faced by South Africa during its transition to democracy. The process of building a united, inclusive, and equitable society after years of apartheid required immense effort and ongoing commitment to address historical injustices and work towards a more just and harmonious future.
- Crime and Corruption: The transition to democracy brought forth new challenges, including rising crime rates and corruption, which hindered progress and created further divisions.
- The term “ARCH Angels of Autocracy” can be metaphorically seen as representing the positive forces that emerged during the transition and helped guide the country toward a more stable and just society:
- Mandela’s Leadership: Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected President of South Africa, played a crucial role as an “ARCH Angel of Autocracy” by advocating for reconciliation, forgiveness, and unity. His leadership and moral authority helped steer the nation away from further conflict.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): The establishment of the TRC was an “ARCH Angel” move, promoting healing by allowing victims and perpetrators of apartheid-era crimes to come forward, seek forgiveness, and tell their stories.
- Citizenry’s Resilience: The South African people showed resilience and determination in building a new nation. Despite historical injustices, they strived to work together and bridge divides.
- Democratic Institutions: The creation of strong democratic institutions, independent judiciary, and a free press were crucial steps toward safeguarding democracy and promoting accountability.
- Inclusive Constitution: The drafting of a progressive and inclusive constitution, protecting the rights of all citizens, was a significant achievement during the transition.
- Economic and Social Initiatives: Efforts were made to address socioeconomic inequalities through various initiatives, such as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policies and social welfare programs.
In summary, South Africa’s post-apartheid journey can be seen as a struggle between the “LUCIFEROUS Demons of Democracy”, the challenges and darker aspects of the transition, and the “ARCH Angels of Autocracy”, the positive forces that guided the nation toward a more inclusive and just society. The transformation was complex, and while progress was made, ongoing efforts are necessary to overcome challenges, which still persist and to continue striving for a truly united and equitable nation
The question of whether continued democracy or a strong autocracy is needed to build a strong and cohesive South Africa is a complex and contentious one. Both democracy and autocracy have their advantages and drawbacks, and the best approach for a nation depends on various factors, including historical context, cultural values, and the current state of affairs.
1. Democracy: Advantages:
- Inclusive governance: Democracy allows for the participation of all citizens in the decision-making process, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility among the people.
- Protection of rights: Democratic systems typically emphasize human rights, freedom of speech, and individual liberties, creating a foundation for a more just society.
- Peaceful transitions of power: Democratic systems provide mechanisms for peaceful transitions of power, reducing the likelihood of violent regime changes.
- Slow decision-making: Democratic processes can be time-consuming, which might hinder rapid responses to crises and urgent matters.
- Potential for populism: Democratic systems can be susceptible to populism, where leaders make short-term decisions based on popular opinion rather than long-term strategies.
- Fragmented support: In a diverse country like South Africa, democratic governance might lead to coalition governments and fragmented support, making it challenging to implement comprehensive policies.
2. Autocracy: Advantages:
- Swift decision-making: Autocratic regimes can make quick decisions and implement policies without prolonged debates.
- Centralised authority: A strong autocratic leader can unify the country under a single vision, reducing division and discord.
- Law and order: Autocratic systems can prioritize law enforcement and maintain strict order, potentially reducing crime and anarchy.
- Lack of accountability: Autocracies often lack checks and balances, leading to potential abuse of power and corruption.
- Suppression of dissent: Autocratic regimes may limit freedom of speech and restrict political opposition, stifling open discourse and creativity.
- Risk of abuse: A single powerful leader could prioritize their interests over the welfare of the population, leading to human rights violations.
In the specific context of South Africa, which has a history of oppressive rule under apartheid, the establishment of democracy in 1994 was a pivotal moment. Democratic governance allowed for political freedom, reconciliation, and the dismantling of institutionalized racism.
However, like many countries, South Africa faces challenges, including socio-economic disparities, crime, and political corruption. The state of anarchy or instability might be concerning, but it is essential to remember that these challenges do not necessarily invalidate the potential of democratic governance. The key to building a strong, cohesive South Africa lies in addressing the root causes of these issues through effective governance, accountable leadership, and inclusive policies that prioritize social justice and economic equality. Strengthening democratic institutions, promoting transparency, and ensuring the rule of law can help address many of the current challenges. While some argue for a stronger autocracy to enforce law and order, history has shown that autocratic regimes can also be susceptible to abuse and the erosion of rights. A repressive approach might suppress dissent temporarily but could lead to deeper divisions and long-term instability. Ultimately, the success of any system of governance depends on the commitment of leaders and citizens to work together for the collective good. Democracy can be challenging, but it provides avenues for change, public participation, and peaceful resolutions to conflicts. Striking a balance between law enforcement and respecting individual rights is crucial in building a cohesive society. In conclusion, continued democracy, with a focus on strengthening institutions, promoting transparency, and addressing socio-economic disparities, has the potential to build a strong and cohesive South Africa. While challenges remain, the lessons of history caution against turning to authoritarian measures, as sustainable progress lies in the collective effort of an engaged citizenry and responsible leadership.
Some critics of democracy argue that in the hands and disposal of the inexperienced, the Black government of South Africa, as in the other post colonial states is incapable of good governance in view of unbridled corruption from ministerial level to law enforcement. This is also complicated by various ethnic groups within a country, as in the Rwandan genocide, which was conducted between 07th April and 15th July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War. During this period of around 100 days, members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group, as well as some moderate Hutu and Twa, were killed by armed Hutu militias. Leading to almost total the annihilation of the minority Tutsis. Similar, ethnic violence was the order of the day, also orchestrated by the departing British after the independence of India in 15th August 1947, when The Partition was implemented, based on religious grounds, in which Hindus, Muslims and other minority groups as well were mercilessly killed, by riotous mobs, on both sides. Even this week, in Manipur, India, ethnic and religious, communal riots are in progress with dea an increasing body counts. Globally, and in South Africa, everybody in government does NOT care, as long as they gain materially or financially, by being elected to hold an office of authority.
In order to preserve “Sustainable Peace” and social cohesion, It is essential to recognise that any government, regardless of the racial background of its leaders, can face issues of corruption and governance challenges. Corruption is a complex problem that can arise in any society and is not limited to a particular race or ethnicity. It is crucial to avoid generalisations that attribute the actions of a few individuals to an entire racial or ethnic group. While it is correct, that some governments, including South Africa’s, have struggled with corruption, it is essential to differentiate between the actions of specific individuals and the broader capabilities of a government, or the people it represents.
- Root Causes of Corruption: Corruption is a multifaceted issue that arises from various factors, including weak institutions, lack of transparency, poverty, and a culture of impunity. It is not solely determined by the racial background of the government’s leaders.
- Accountability and Oversight: The presence of corruption in a government does not mean that every member of the government is corrupt or indifferent to the issue. Many individuals within the government and civil society organisations work tirelessly to fight corruption and promote good governance.
- Civil Society and Media: Civil society organizations, independent media, and concerned citizens play a vital role in holding governments accountable. They can expose corruption, advocate for reforms, and push for greater transparency.
- Economic and Social Context: Addressing corruption requires addressing underlying socio-economic challenges. Reducing poverty, improving education, and ensuring access to opportunities can help reduce incentives for corruption.
- Strengthening Institutions: Strengthening democratic institutions, including the judiciary, law enforcement, and oversight bodies, is crucial in curbing corruption. Independent and robust institutions are better equipped to investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
- Public Awareness and Participation: Increasing public awareness about corruption and encouraging citizen participation can lead to higher demands for accountability and transparency from elected officials.
- International Cooperation: Corruption is a global issue, and international cooperation can play a vital role in combating it. Working with international partners to track illicit financial flows and hold perpetrators accountable can be effective.
It is crucial to recognize the efforts made by individuals and institutions within the government and civil society to combat corruption and promote good governance. While there may be specific cases of corruption and governance challenges, it is not accurate to generalize the actions of a few to the entire government or its racial makeup. Addressing corruption and promoting good governance is a shared responsibility that requires the efforts of all citizens, regardless of their racial background. Focusing on strengthening institutions, increasing transparency, promoting public awareness, and holding leaders accountable are critical steps toward building a more accountable and transparent government in South Africa. It is relevant to analyse the two aspects as “Demons of Democracy” and “Angels of Autocracy” in the context of South Africa:
1. Overreach by Elected Leaders in Terms of Election Promises and Subsequent Non-Delivery:
Demons of Democracy:
- In a democratic system, elected leaders often make ambitious promises during election campaigns to gain support and win votes. However, some leaders may overreach by making unrealistic or impractical promises, which can create false expectations among the electorate.
- Overreach can lead to disappointment and disillusionment among citizens when leaders fail to deliver on their promises. This disillusionment can erode public trust in the democratic process and contribute to a sense of political apathy.
Angels of Autocracy:
- In an autocratic system, a strong leader with centralized authority may be less inclined to make unrealistic promises or overreach during election campaigns. This is because there is less need to appeal to a wide range of voters, and decisions are made by a select group of individuals or the autocratic leader.
- Autocratic regimes may have a more focused and disciplined approach to governance, prioritizing stability and efficiency over making extravagant promises.
2. Legacy Challenges Rooted in an Authoritarian Past under White Minority, Apartheid Government:
Demons of Democracy:
- The legacy of apartheid, characterized by racial segregation and discrimination, poses significant challenges for South Africa’s democracy. Healing the wounds of the past and addressing historical injustices require complex and inclusive policies that can be slow to implement in a democratic system.
- The issue of land reform is a prime example of a legacy challenge. The unequal distribution of land ownership based on race during apartheid remains a contentious issue in post-apartheid South Africa. Balancing the need for restorative justice with economic stability and food security is a complex task.
Angels of Autocracy:
- In an autocratic system, a strong leader might be better positioned to implement swift and decisive measures to address legacy challenges. However, this could come at the cost of inclusivity and transparency, as decisions may be made without broader public input.
- Autocracy could potentially enforce policies such as land reform with more expedience. Still, it may lack the checks and balances needed to ensure that these policies consider the interests and needs of all citizens.
The progressive decline in democratic South Africa and the emergence of anarchy and lawlessness cannot be attributed solely to either “Overreach by elected leaders” or “Legacy challenges rooted in an authoritarian past.” Instead, it is a combination of multiple factors that have contributed to the complex situation the country faces today. Let’s explore how these two aspects, along with other factors, have played a role:
1. Overreach by Elected Leaders:
- Unrealistic Promises: Elected leaders in democratic systems often make promises to win support during elections. However, when these promises are unrealistic or unattainable, it leads to public disillusionment when they are not fulfilled. This creates a sense of betrayal and erodes public trust in the democratic process and the legitimacy of the government.
- Lack of Accountability: Overreach by elected leaders may also be coupled with a lack of accountability. When leaders make grand promises without being held accountable for non-delivery, it fosters a culture of impunity and encourages corruption and misuse of power.
- Political Polarization: Overreach can lead to heightened political polarization as parties and factions clash over differing views on how to fulfill campaign promises. This can hinder constructive dialogue and compromise, leading to a breakdown in effective governance.
2. Legacy Challenges Rooted in an Authoritarian Past:
- Economic Inequalities: The legacy of apartheid has left deep-rooted economic inequalities in South Africa. The concentration of wealth and resources in the hands of a minority has perpetuated a cycle of poverty and social exclusion for the majority of the population. Addressing these disparities is a complex and ongoing process that has proved challenging for democratic governments.
- Land Reform: The issue of land reform, aimed at addressing historical injustices in land ownership, has been a contentious and divisive challenge. Finding a balanced approach that rectifies past wrongs while ensuring economic stability and food security has been difficult to achieve, leading to ongoing tensions.
- Social Cohesion: The apartheid regime deliberately fostered divisions along racial lines, creating social fractures that persist to this day. Building a cohesive and inclusive society requires confronting these deep-seated social divisions, which takes time and sustained efforts.
- Institutional Weaknesses: The legacy of authoritarian rule under apartheid left behind weakened democratic institutions, including law enforcement, judiciary, and civil services. Strengthening these institutions and ensuring their independence is crucial for effective governance, but it is a slow and complex process.
Other Contributing Factors:
- Corruption: Corruption is a significant challenge that has plagued South Africa’s democratic governance. It undermines the rule of law, erodes public trust, and diverts resources away from much-needed development projects.
- Socioeconomic Struggles: Persistent poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to essential services have fueled frustration and discontent among the population. When people feel that their basic needs are not being met, it can lead to social unrest and lawlessness.
- Crime and Gang Violence: High levels of crime, particularly in urban areas, contribute to a sense of lawlessness and insecurity. Organised crime and gang violence further exacerbate social tensions and undermine stability. This is a major setback in certain areas of Western Cape in South Africa.
It is essential to recognise that the challenges South Africa faces are interconnected and complex. The decline in democratic governance and the rise of anarchy and lawlessness are the outcomes of a combination of historical legacies, socioeconomic struggles, governance issues, and other complex factors.
At this point, it is necessary to highlight that these two aforementioned factors have led to REVERSE APARTHEID IN SOUTH AFRICA, whereby the Blacks are favoured and minorities are discriminated, even in terms of admission to university academic programmes, for minorities apart from equity and affirmative action in basic appointments, NOT based on merit, but on RACE of the applicant.
The concept of “Reverse Apartheid” in South Africa is a highly contentious and debated topic. It refers to the perception that policies such as affirmative action and broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) have resulted in discrimination against minority groups, particularly white South Africans, in various aspects of society, including university admissions and employment.
It is essential to approach this topic with sensitivity and nuance, considering the historical context and complexities of addressing the legacy of apartheid. Let’s examine how the two aspects mentioned earlier, “Overreach by elected leaders” and “Legacy challenges rooted in an authoritarian past,” have contributed to the implementation of equity measures, and how some argue that these policies have led to perceived discrimination against minorities:
1. Overreach by Elected Leaders:
- Ambitious Transformation Goals: After the end of apartheid, South Africa faced the immense challenge of redressing historical injustices and achieving social and economic transformation. Elected leaders committed to ambitious goals of creating a more equitable society in a short period.
- Implementation Challenges: In some cases, the implementation of transformation policies, including affirmative action, has been rushed or poorly executed, leading to unintended consequences and perceptions of discrimination.
- Political Expediency: Overreach by some leaders might have resulted in populist measures to gain political support, which can undermine the principle of merit-based decision-making.
2. Legacy Challenges Rooted in an Authoritarian Past:
- Historic Inequalities: The apartheid system entrenched racial disparities, and the majority of black South Africans were systematically disadvantaged in education, employment, and access to opportunities.
- Need for Redress: The aim of affirmative action and equity policies was to address these historical inequalities and create opportunities for previously marginalized groups.
- Social Cohesion: Addressing the legacy of apartheid requires policies that promote social cohesion and unity. However, in some instances, the implementation of transformation measures might have unintentionally deepened divisions between racial groups.
Regarding university admissions and academic programs, some argue that affirmative action policies have led to the prioritisation of race over merit, resulting in the perceived discrimination against minority groups, especially white applicants. While these policies were initially intended to redress historical imbalances and ensure greater access to education for black South Africans, there have been debates over their effectiveness and potential unintended consequences. It is important to note that the issue of affirmative action and transformation policies is a complex and sensitive topic in South Africa. The country is still grappling with historical inequalities, and there are divergent views on how to achieve meaningful transformation while maintaining fairness and inclusivity for all citizens. However, in recent years, there have been ongoing discussions and efforts to strike a balance between promoting access and opportunities for previously disadvantaged groups while upholding merit-based principles to ensure that all individuals, regardless of race, have a fair chance to compete for opportunities. In essence, the challenges of post-apartheid South Africa, including the legacy of historical injustices and ambitious transformation goals, have led to the implementation of equity measures such as affirmative action. While these policies were intended to promote inclusivity and address past inequalities, there have been debates and concerns about their impact on minority groups. Striking a balance between transformation and meritocracy remains a significant ongoing challenge for the nation as it seeks to build a more just and equitable society.
Therefore, the aspect of “Overreach by Elected Leaders” is a challenge within democratic systems that can lead to unfulfilled promises and disillusionment among citizens. On the other hand, the aspect of “Legacy Challenges Rooted in an Authoritarian Past” represents the enduring complexities of addressing historical injustices within a democratic framework. Both democracy and autocracy have their strengths and weaknesses, and finding the right balance between responsiveness and stability is essential for South Africa’s continued progress. Emphasizing good governance, accountability, and public participation can help address the “Demons of Democracy” while striving to overcome the legacy challenges rooted in the country’s authoritarian past. Ultimately, the success of any system depends on the commitment of leaders and citizens to work together to build a more just and inclusive society.
The two aforementioned challenges, “Overreach by elected leaders” and “Legacy challenges rooted in an authoritarian past,” can have significant implications for sustainable peace in a democratic country. Let’s explore how each of these challenges can impact peace:
1. Overreach by Elected Leaders:
- Public Discontent and Unrest: Overreach by elected leaders, especially when they fail to deliver on their promises or prioritize their own interests, can lead to public discontent and social unrest. When people feel that their needs and concerns are not being addressed, they may resort to protests, demonstrations, or other forms of civil disobedience, which can disrupt peace and stability.
- Polarization and Division: Overreaching policies and the failure to build consensus can lead to increased political polarization and division within society. When political factions are deeply divided, it becomes challenging to find common ground and work towards sustainable solutions to national challenges, which can hinder the peace-building process.
- Erosion of Trust in Institutions: Overreach and perceived lack of accountability can erode public trust in democratic institutions. When people lose faith in the government and its ability to address their concerns, they may become disengaged from the democratic process, leading to a breakdown in the social contract essential for peaceful coexistence.
2. Legacy Challenges Rooted in an Authoritarian Past:
- Inequities and Social Tensions: The legacy of historical injustices, such as apartheid in South Africa, can create deep-seated social tensions and inequalities. These inequities can lead to feelings of marginalization and exclusion among certain groups, contributing to ongoing social unrest and a lack of sustainable peace.
- Struggle for Resources: Historical injustices may have resulted in the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities. As marginalized groups seek redress and greater access to resources, it can lead to competition and conflict over scarce resources, undermining efforts to achieve sustainable peace.
- Reconciliation and Healing: Addressing the legacy of authoritarianism requires a careful process of reconciliation and healing. Achieving genuine reconciliation among different racial, ethnic, and cultural groups is essential for sustainable peace, but it can be a challenging and delicate process that requires time and genuine commitment.
In the context of South Africa, for instance, the challenges stemming from apartheid’s authoritarian past have necessitated a delicate balance between acknowledging historical injustices and fostering social cohesion. Similarly, addressing the issue of overreach by elected leaders is crucial for restoring public trust and building a stable and peaceful democratic society.
Promoting Sustainable Peace in a Democratic Country:
- Good Governance: Strong and accountable governance is essential for addressing both challenges. Leaders must act with transparency and integrity, delivering on realistic promises and ensuring that policies consider the interests of all citizens.
- Inclusive Policies: Addressing historical injustices requires inclusive policies that promote equal access to opportunities and resources for all citizens, particularly those who were previously marginalized.
- Respect for Rule of Law: Upholding the rule of law is crucial for peace and stability. Leaders and citizens alike must respect and adhere to the principles of democracy and constitutionalism.
- Dialogue and Compromise: Encouraging constructive dialogue and seeking common ground among diverse political and social groups is essential for building consensus and reducing polarization.
- Social Cohesion: Efforts to build social cohesion and promote national unity are crucial for healing the wounds of the past and ensuring peaceful coexistence among different communities.
In conclusion, addressing the challenges of overreach by elected leaders and the legacy of an authoritarian past is vital for sustainable peace in a democratic country. By fostering good governance, inclusive policies, respect for the rule of law, dialogue, and social cohesion, democratic societies can work towards building a more stable and peaceful future for all citizens. While the challenges of “Overreach by elected leaders” and “Legacy challenges rooted in an authoritarian past” are significant factors that can contribute to the decline of democracy in South Africa, they are not the sole erosive factors. The erosion of democracy is a complex process influenced by multiple interrelated factors. Let’s explore some additional factors that can also contribute to the decline of democracy in South Africa:
Religious leaders and religions can play a significant role in arresting the progressive decline of democracy in South Africa and in strengthening the country’s democratic principles. Their influence extends beyond spiritual matters to shaping values, promoting social cohesion, and advocating for justice and equality. In this context, religious leaders and institutions can act as agents of positive change, counteracting autocratic ideologies, and fostering a more inclusive, compassionate, and accountable society. Their roles can be explored, in detail:
- Promoting Ethical Leadership and Accountability: Religious leaders can advocate for ethical leadership, emphasizing the importance of integrity, honesty, and accountability among elected officials. They can use religious teachings to inspire leaders to serve the common good rather than their self-interest. By calling for transparency and responsibility, religious leaders can challenge overreach by elected leaders and hold them accountable for their actions.
- Advocating for Social Justice and Equality: Central to many religious teachings is the principle of social justice and the fair treatment of all individuals. Religious leaders can address issues of inequality, poverty, and marginalization, urging policymakers to prioritize policies that uplift the most vulnerable members of society. By working towards a more equitable distribution of resources and opportunities, religious leaders can contribute to a more stable and cohesive democracy.
- Encouraging Civic Engagement and Participation: Religious institutions can encourage their members to be active and engaged citizens, participating in the democratic process, and making informed decisions during elections. They can promote voter education and emphasize the significance of exercising the right to vote as a means of influencing the country’s direction.
- Fostering Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding: In a diverse country like South Africa, religious leaders can play a crucial role in fostering interfaith dialogue and understanding. By promoting respect for different religious traditions and encouraging cooperation between faith communities, they contribute to social cohesion and counteract religious-based divisions that may challenge democracy.
- Emphasising Nonviolent Conflict Resolution: Religious teachings often promote nonviolence and peaceful resolution of conflicts. In the face of social unrest and tensions, religious leaders can advocate for dialogue and mediation as means of addressing grievances and finding common ground. Their messages of peace can help prevent conflicts from escalating and protect democratic institutions from erosion due to violence.
- Providing Moral Guidance for Policymaking: Religious leaders can offer moral guidance on complex societal issues, such as human rights, gender equality, environmental conservation, and healthcare. By incorporating religious values into public debates, they contribute to a broader ethical framework that informs policymaking, ensuring that decisions align with the country’s democratic values.
- Engaging in Interfaith Activism for Common Good: Religious leaders can collaborate in interfaith activism to address shared social challenges, transcending religious boundaries in pursuit of common goals. This collective effort sends a powerful message of unity and cooperation, which can counteract divisive ideologies and strengthen the fabric of a diverse democracy.
- Encouraging Compassionate Service and Volunteerism: Religious institutions can inspire their followers to engage in compassionate service and volunteerism. By contributing to community development and social welfare initiatives, religious communities can address pressing social needs, complementing the efforts of government institutions.
- Challenging Authoritarian and Discriminatory Narratives: Religious leaders can use their platforms to challenge ideologies that promote discrimination, intolerance, or authoritarianism. By promoting values of inclusivity, love, and respect for all, they can counteract philosophies that seek to divide and exploit.
- Promoting Education and Critical Thinking: Religious institutions can emphasize the importance of education and critical thinking, empowering their followers to question information and engage in informed decision-making. A well-informed and discerning citizenry is essential for the functioning of a robust and vibrant democracy.
Religious leaders and religions have the potential to be powerful forces for positive change in South Africa’s democracy. Their role goes beyond spiritual matters; they can promote ethical leadership, advocate for social justice, foster interfaith dialogue, encourage civic engagement, and challenge authoritarian ideologies. By harnessing the values of compassion, justice, and unity present in many religious teachings, religious leaders can contribute significantly to arresting the progressive decline of democracy and strengthening South Africa’s democratic foundations. As a second channel of action, their efforts can nullify the philosophies of the Arch Angels of Autocracy, promoting a more inclusive, accountable, and harmonious society for all citizens. In the context of South Africa, some of the broken pillars of basic democracy, which have been caused by the challenges and “demons of democracy,” as well as “Angels of Autocracy” include the following:
- Transparency and Accountability: Example: Corruption and State Capture
- South Africa has faced significant corruption scandals involving high-ranking government officials and private entities. The Gupta family’s alleged influence over state appointments and contracts during the Zuma presidency is a notable example of how corruption can undermine transparency and accountability in a democratic system.
- Rule of Law: Example: Selective Law Enforcement
- In some instances, there have been allegations of selective law enforcement, with certain individuals being targeted while others seemingly escape accountability. This can erode public trust in the rule of law and the impartiality of the justice system.
- Civic Engagement and Participation: Example: Voter Apathy
- Despite its hard-fought struggle for democracy, South Africa has faced challenges in sustaining high levels of voter engagement and participation. Voter apathy, particularly among young people, has been observed in some elections, limiting the inclusivity and vibrancy of democratic representation.
- Social Cohesion and Inclusivity: Example: Racial Tensions and Xenophobia
- While South Africa’s transition to democracy aimed to promote social cohesion, racial tensions and xenophobia have persisted. Incidents of violence against foreign nationals and racial divides in public discourse underscore the challenges of fostering a cohesive and inclusive society.
- Media Freedom and Independence: Example: Threats to Journalists and Media Outlets
- There have been instances of threats and violence against journalists and media outlets in South Africa. Attacks on media freedom can undermine the flow of information and hinder the media’s ability to hold power to account, essential elements of a democratic society.
- Good Governance and Institutional Strength: Example: Eskom and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs)
- Governance challenges within state-owned enterprises, such as Eskom, have had adverse effects on the country’s economy and service delivery. Mismanagement and corruption in key institutions can weaken the foundations of good governance in a democracy.
- Political Polarization: Example: Factionalism within Political Parties
- Political polarization within political parties can hinder effective decision-making and cooperation. Factionalism and infighting can distract from addressing critical national issues and weaken the democratic process.
- Economic Inequality and Access to Opportunities: Example: Persisting Poverty and Unemployment
- Despite progress, South Africa continues to face significant economic inequality, high levels of poverty, and unemployment. These disparities can lead to social unrest and challenges to democratic governance when not adequately addressed.
- Protection of Human Rights: Example: Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
- Gender-based violence has remained a significant concern in South Africa, with high rates of violence against women and girls. Addressing GBV is essential for upholding human rights and ensuring a just and equal society.
- Independent Judiciary: Example: Political Interference in Judicial Appointments
- There have been concerns about political interference in judicial appointments, which can undermine the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, a critical pillar of a functioning democracy.
These examples illustrate how the “demons of democracy” as well as the “Angels of Autocracy” can weaken key aspects of democratic governance in South Africa. Addressing these challenges and rebuilding broken pillars is essential for strengthening the country’s democratic foundations and ensuring a more inclusive, just, and prosperous society.
While South Africa is widely recognized as a democratic country, there are certain aspects or issues that some may point to as reasons to question or challenge its classification as a fully democratic nation. It’s important to note that this analysis does not mean South Africa is not a democracy, but rather highlights potential concerns that some observers might raise. Listed below are some possible, compelling reasons:
- Erosion of Press Freedom: There have been instances of threats and violence against journalists in South Africa. Attacks on media freedom can hinder the flow of information and impede the media’s ability to hold power to account, which is a vital aspect of a robust democracy.
- Political Polarization and Factionalism: Internal factionalism within some political parties and high levels of political polarization have led to infighting and divisions, which can hinder effective governance and cooperation.
- Corruption and State Capture: South Africa has faced significant corruption scandals involving high-ranking government officials and private entities. The phenomenon of state capture, where powerful individuals or entities manipulate state institutions for personal gain, has raised concerns about the integrity of democratic governance.
- Socioeconomic Inequality: Despite progress, South Africa continues to face significant economic inequality, high levels of poverty, and unemployment. Persistent disparities can challenge democratic governance when not adequately addressed, as they may lead to social unrest and political dissatisfaction.
- Weaknesses in Law Enforcement and Judiciary: Perceived weaknesses in law enforcement and allegations of political interference in judicial appointments can raise questions about the independence and effectiveness of these institutions.
- Electoral Irregularities: While South Africa’s elections have generally been regarded as free and fair, there have been occasional allegations of electoral irregularities and voter fraud.
- Limited Civic Participation: Although South Africa has regular elections and a vibrant civil society, voter turnout in some elections has seen a decline. Limited civic participation can raise questions about the vibrancy of the democratic process.
- Xenophobia and Social Tensions: South Africa has experienced instances of xenophobic violence and persistent racial tensions, which can challenge the spirit of inclusivity and social cohesion vital for a thriving democracy.
It is absolutely necessary to consider these concerns in the broader context of South Africa’s history and the challenges it has faced in its democratic journey. Many of these issues are not unique to South Africa and are common challenges faced by many democracies worldwide.
Despite these potential concerns, South Africa continues to be regarded as a democratic country with regular elections, a multi-party system, a free press, and a functioning judiciary. Addressing these challenges and ensuring transparency, accountability, and inclusivity remain ongoing tasks for South Africa’s democratic development.
The Bottom Line is, as summarised by Ernst Roets, who is the Deputy CEO of AfriForum, the civil rights organisation in South Africa. He advances reasons to conclude that South Africa is literally a “Pseudo-Democracy”, a term coined by the author. The reality is that South Africa is at best about a crippled democracy and at worst it is not worthy of the term “democracy”. The reason is that there are certain basic conditions for democracy, which are not to be found anywhere in South Africa. He lists five of these conditions, as follows:
- “You have fewer rights because you are a minority.”
“Sorry, we have more rights here because we are a majority. You have fewer rights because you are a minority. Absolutely, that’s how democracy works.” With these words, the President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, proved to the world that the government has no idea what the word “democracy” means. What Zuma described here, is majority domination or majoritarianism.
- Institutionalised, permanent discrimination
South Africa is the only country in the world where affirmative action is applied to protect the majority against the minority. Although, according to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, affirmative action may be applied in a democracy, the distorted affirmative action policies applied in South Africa are actually illegal in terms of international law. There are two reasons for this. In the first place, the International Labour Organisation determines that no form of affirmative action may be permanent. In the second place, any affirmative action policies must ensure that non-racialism is promoted. South Africa’s affirmative action policy is permanent because it is based on national demographics and it promotes racialism, instead of curbing it. A basic prerequisite for democracy is that non-racialism should not only exist on paper, but must be promoted in practice. The basic difference between democracy and majoritarianism is that minorities in a democracy are safeguarded. In a healthy democracy, minority groups not only have the same rights as the majority, but there should be special measures in place to ensure that the minority is not be suppressed by the majority. The only way to accomplish this is to give more rights to minorities, not less. In South Africa this is certainly not the case. On the contrary, the government is convinced that minority rights are “contra-democratic” because they do not know what democracy means.
- Accountable Government
Another fundamental requirement for any democracy is that the government must be transparent and accountable. If the South African government were transparent and accountable, there would not be a cloud of controversy surrounding senior political appointments such as that of the Chief Justice and the national police commissioner.
If South Africa had a responsible government, the government would not use R246 million of taxpayers’ money to “renovate” the president’s private residence. The president’s friends would not be able to use military air force bases and parliament would not be considered as a circus by the general public.
- Healthy Political Landscape
Certain basic political factors are prerequisites for the functioning of a healthy democracy. One is that the government must change regularly (and peacefully). This implies that the opposition must be strong enough that there would be a substantial risk that the ruling party will lose power if they do not govern effectively. In South Africa, the ruling ANC can virtually “govern” the country into the ground without fear that they will be voted out in the next election. This is compounded by the fact that the ANC to this day refuses to refer to itself as a political party, but in their strategic documents still refers to itself as a liberation movement that intends to carry out a revolution.
- Rule of Law
Admittedly, in South Africa there are still excellent judges and the government is often called to account in the courts. But is this sufficient reason to believe that there is universal respect for the rule of law in this country? In a country where the rule of law is respected, it would in the first place not have been possible for anyone who is charged with 783 counts of corruption to pursue any significant career, let alone become president of the country. The arms scandal (for which we are still waiting for answers) would never have happened and the government’s recent failure to extradite an alleged perpetrator of genocide to the International Criminal Court would never have created an embarrassment to the country and its citizens.
The philosopher Karl Popper rightly raises his concern about the “paradox of democracy” when he says that in a so-called democracy it is possible to elect a person as head of state who may then use that power to establish a tyranny. Samuel Huntington describes this paradox as the phenomenon where a democratically elected government manipulates the democratic institutions that are at its disposal (the parliament, the courts and other democratic institutions such as the Public Protector in South Africa’s case) or suppresses it with political power in order to do undemocratic things. Hence, for the above reasons, South Africa should not be classified as a democracy, or then, at least not without qualifying the statement.
Therefore, the Luciferous Demons of Democracy and the Archangels of Autocracy have significantly eroded away the concepts of democracy as espoused by the original, founding African National Congress, as espoused by The Madiba: the first President of post liberation South Africa, elected democratically by the people for the people, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Madiba, as fondly known in South Africa, who passed spent 27 years incarcerated on Robben Island, peacefully passed on 05th December 2013, leaving behind a solid legacy of democracy, which is no longer in existence in South Africa and totally destroyed by the Luciferous Demons of Democracy, aided by the Archangels of Autocracy, in South Africa, having made a mockery of Madiba’s global teachings.
Incidentally, the Archangels of Autocracy within the South African government, have prevented the civil rights organisation AfriForum from participating in the activities of the UN. Afriforum has subsequently submitted a complaint against the South African government at the United Nations’ (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. The complaint arises from the unlawful behaviour of the South African government to prevent AfriForum’s participations at the UN in 2016. More recently, furthermore, more than 18 months after racial flames were fanned when several old South African flags were displayed on Black Monday, a day meant to highlight farm murders, a judge of the Gauteng High Court has ruled that the banner’s gratuitous display constitutes hate speech, in terms of 10.1 of the Equality Act… . In addition, a judgment of Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo of South Africa was handed down on 21st August 2019 which declared “that gratuitous displays of the former South African, apartheid flag constitutes hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment”. The readers are invited to come to their personal conclusion, on such a legal ruling.
 Personal quote by the author, July 2023
 https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/india/what-is-the-reason-behind-manipur-violence-in-hindi/articleshow/100006065.cms. Translated into English by Author. Original in Hindi.
Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.
Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All
Tags: Authoritarianism, Autocracy, Corruption, Democracy, History, Nelson Mandela, Racism, South Africa
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Aug 2023.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: The Resurrection of the Luciferous Demons of Democracy and Archangels of Autocracy, as Peace Disruptors in South Africa (Part 2), is included. Thank you.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.
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