With the recent dilemma of brawls and fist fights in parliament the Democracy Development Programme In Kwa-Zulu Natal hosted a debate and dialogue to discuss whether “younger” parties, who have added vigour to the otherwise mundane sittings in the national assembly, have indeed opened up a greater avenue for public participation.
The dialogue was attended by Minority Front youth Leader and Youth Parliamentary Ambassador Jonathan Annipen and Law Student Kyle Travise Pillay. The robust debate, which took place at the Maharani Hotel in Durban, discussed issues that have brought the South African National Assembly under international scrutiny.
Jonathan Annipen said “The National Assembly is platform to deliberate and reflect on the mandates of the South African Community. It is a shame that members have relegated that honourable house to market place. Never in the history of this country have we experienced such gross disregard for the highest office in the land. Whilst we welcome the advent of new political parties and the fresh crispness that they bring we condemn the blatant disregard for procedures and parliamentary codes of conduct. In the same token, Government must accept that the representation featured in parliament is a reflect on the mandate of the people of this country. Unfortunately what happens is that the opinions of the electorate are diluted by that of party caucuses and majority rule. Perhaps one day we will evolve as a nation from the “list selection” and proportional representational style of election to a constituency based election which will mean that a constituency can hold an MP accountable if they do not properly articulate the concerns of the people.”
Mrs Shameen Thakur Rajbansi, Leader of the Minority Front, said as a government and an electorate we must invest time in reseaching these two types of electoral systems. While the current political climate may not have arrived at a point where the constituency based election can be adopted we must not rule out possible ideas and innovations that can be adopted to complement our current system. Public participation, petitions and attending public hearings and forums are ways in which the community can educate themselves on the available avenues of change.
The debate was also attended by the University of Kwazulu Natal’s Debating League.