President of the Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF) and former senior government official Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi says that the South African government should consider scrapping the country’s constitution and moving to a different form of governance led by a Parliamentary majority.
Speaking after the PPF’s national executive committee meeting at the weekend, Manyi said that South Africa’s current Constitutional Democracy was not the ruling ANC’s idea, but was rather forced on the country by the previous government to ensure the country’s new leaders could not make the necessary structural changes to uplift the poor.
According to a report by IOL, Manyi was quoted as saying that a constitutional democracy was producing the “spiralling poverty and inequality” the country has seen, as sections of the constitution are brought up to defend institutions and policies that work against the country’s poorest (such as labour brokers).
Manyi dismissed the notion that South Africa had ‘one of the best constitutions in the world’, saying that if it was so great, why aren’t more countries copying it.
He said that the PPF’s view was that ‘majoritarianism’ should be the base construct for democracy in South Africa – a political system where the majority is given primacy in society, and in effect make all the decisions – and that the current constitutional democracy should be debated.
“We are saying if constitutional democracy is better than majoritarianism, let’s have that discussion,” he said.
A majoritarian democracy would function similarly to how the ANC’s majority in Parliament currently pushes its motions through – however, without constitutional grounds for smaller parties and other groups to challenge these decisions.
South Africa’s constitution as we know it today was implemented in 1996, and has been amended 17 times since its implementation. It followed the country’s interim constitution which came into effect in 1993, after a stringent negotiation process between various political parties, led by the ANC.
The constitution has come into question many times since its implementation, and government officials, including the president himself, have in the past indicated that certain things in the document should be changed – often spurring panic.
The founding provision in section 1 of the constitution can be amended with the support of 75% of the members of the National Assembly (NA), while the rest of the constitution can be amended with the support of two thirds of the members of the NA.
An amendment to section 1, any provision in the Bill of Rights, and any provisions relating to provinces also requires the support of six of the nine provincial delegations to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
Currently, the ANC does not have even a two-thirds majority in Parliament, and thus would be unable to make any changes to South Africa’s constitution without wider political support or buy-in from other parties.