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The African National Congress is reputed for churning out lofty documents which they regrettably do not live up to.
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Promoting and practising good governance as a means of advancing peace and security

Debate on promoting and practising good governance as a means of advancing peace and security: Drawing lessons from recent events in the Middle East and North Africa

There are many inferences and lesson that a person or a government can draw from what has happened in the Middle East and North Africa. I’m of the opinion that we need not intellectualise this debate, but rather break it down to basics of governance in a democratic state. Although, there well may have been influence of third parties, or the West to be exact, as alleged by some, but it is important for any entity to sweep itsown side of the floor before it starts allocating blame.

Governance is a manner and style in which government relates and interacts with the society it governs. There are four suggested pillars that can be used as measure of whether governance is good or bad.

  • The degree of trust in government,
  • the degree of responsiveness in the relationship between government and civil society,
  • the government’s degree of accountability to its voters, and
  • the nature of the authority that the government exercises over its society.

We, as parliament have a role to play, in terms of ensuring that proper legislation and policies that articulate the afore-stated pillars are in place.

I dare say, we are this far playing that role well. However, we are lagging behind in our oversight role as it has not translated to a more accountable government.

The state has a responsibility to protect, regulate, develop, maintain and sustain its citizens, bearing in mind the availability of resources.In paper and in theory, parliament holds government accountable, we purport to do that through various committees. If we do this effectively and efficient, then the million dollar questions are:

  • why do we continue to see service delivery protests in each and every province?
  • why do we continue to read of senior public officials entangled in corrupt activities?
  • Why has violence by our police force against civilians increased?

I am of the opinion that we have a government who is not trustworthy to its electorate and taking their people for granted. The degree of interaction between the government and the civil society is far from being ideal. Our government is not accountable to its voters, decisions are channelled from top down and not the other way round, hence we see disgruntled members of the society who only know how to interact with the government through protest and violence. The number of cases reported on police brutality against civilians leaves a sour state in what is supposedly a democratic state. The manner and style in which the government exercises authority over its society leaves much to be desired and more often we have seen gross violations of human rights in the name of ‘exercising authority’.

If we are to maintain peace and security, and if we seek to avoid a repeat of what happened in North Africa, we, as parliament need to ensure and strengthen our oversight role and hold the government truly accountable to us and to the electorate.

Hon MN Matladi

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