As an organisation that stands for a democratic society based on the will of the people, the Right2Know Campaign shares the outrage that is engulfing the country in the wake of President Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle. The President cast out those who had opposed his assault on democratic values or who no longer served his purpose. We have every reason to believe this purge had nothing to do with serving the people of South Africa and everything to do with President Zuma’s programme of eroding institutions of democratic accountability for personal gain.
An undemocratic and closed society is one that will quickly be sold off to hyenas of one type or another – we need to fight for democracy as the first condition of striving for a new more just economic reality. Genuine economic and political transformation will only be achieved by protecting the integrity of our public funds in the short term, and in the longer term, building a broad movement of the people can drive economic justice and produce a leadership that puts people first and places democratic control where it belongs: in the hands of the people, not of an elitist and factional leadership.
The cabinet reshuffle was crudely justified as a necessary move to achieve “radical economic transformation”. We reject this empty rhetoric. South Africa’s democracy indeed demands a ‘radical economic transformation’ that redistributes wealth to the poor in the face of our gross poverty and inequality. But in the 10 years since President Zuma received his mandate at the ANC’s Polokwane Conference, inequality and unemployment has continued to grow. Under President Zuma, the mantra of ‘radical economic transformation’ is nothing more than a populist slogan to justify the accumulation of wealth by a few.
We recommit to building the Right2Know Campaign as a popular movement for accountability and freedom of expression rooted in broader struggles for social, economic and ecological justice.
On Ministries impacting the right to know
R2K has campaigned for the removal of non-performing or politically captured Cabinet Ministers whose portfolios have a particular impact on R2K’s mission to defend and advance the free flow of information. In the past year, we have called for Faith Muthambi, David Mahlobo and Bathabile Dlamini to be removed from their portfolios for actively working against the interests of the people of South Africa. We are unsurprised that these Ministers all remain on the Cabinet, given that this reshuffle had nothing to do with meeting the needs of our constitutional democracy.
As Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi was a lead player in the destruction on South Africa’s public broadcaster, the SABC, and has utterly failed the nation in the long delayed roll-out of digital TV. Despite this, and the official censure of Parliament for her outrageous disregard for the integrity of the SABC, she has simply been shifted to another Cabinet portfolio, where we can surely expect similar conduct.
We look forward to engaging Ayanda Dlodlo – the incoming Minister of Communications – noting that in her previous capacity she was in charge of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) where her record for encouraging transparency is questionable. Right2Know will continue to champion freedom of expression for all and free access to communications resources.
As Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo has shown through his conduct to no longer be fit for the responsibility of building a safer and more democratic South Africa. During his tenure, the State Security portfolio has become even more politically powerful and further enrolled in the project of protecting Jacob Zuma’s personal political interests. His outrageous proposals to regulate social media are only one recent example of why we have called for his removal as Minister of State Security.
The use of bogus ‘intelligence’ reports to manipulate political processes is an ongoing threat to democracy. We demand to know what involvement State Security had in manufacturing the bogus intelligence used by Zuma to fire the Finance minister and deputy Minister, or in presenting this information to the President. If State Security denies any involvement, we demand to know who was behind it and what steps State Security has taken to refute the bogus claims therein.
We need a democratic political culture that is conducted in the open, based on facts, not from the shadows, based on baseless allegations.
We reiterate our call: Mahlobo Must Go!
As Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini bears full responsibility for gambling with the livelihoods of 10-million of South Africa’s grants beneficiaries, creating a national crisis that was greatly to the benefit of a massively profitable private company, Cash Paymaster Services, and which was only averted by the intervention of the Black Sash and the Constitutional Court. The fact that Dlamini has been retained as Minister of Social Development makes it clear that any reshuffle is a cynical political maneuver which is not motivated by effective service delivery or meeting the needs of the people of South Africa.