Active citizenship is needed more than ever before

We, as South African citizens who live in a constitutional, democratic state, need to become more active in order to achieve a better tomorrow for all.

03/04/2017 07:26 SAST | Updated 03/04/2017 07:26 SAST
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Demonstrators protest against South African President Jacob Zuma's firing of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, outside Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, March 31, 2017.

On Thursday 30th March, many political analysts' predictions came true when President Jacob Zuma announced which Ministers and Deputy Ministers were to be axed, who would be replacing them and who would be moving to new departments. Of course, the most concerning and media-attracting announcement was the axing of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his Deputy Minister, Mcebisi Jonas.

Although this decision was to be expected and was predicted by many, South Africans still took to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, denouncing the President's decision and reaffirming the belief that the state has been captured by Zuma's friends, the Guptas. The feelings of disgust and dismay were shared by various South Africans from all sectors, political parties and civil society organisations.

Despite this public outcry, very little is being done by the South African citizens to bring about positive change and this brings me to this critique about our society: We, as South African citizens who live in a constitutional, democratic state, need to become more active in order to achieve a better tomorrow for all.

As many South Africans have observed and realised, we are facing a leadership crisis in South Africa. Lack of accountability, transparency and conversation between political leaders, the executive and South African citizens have caused mistrust and tension. We definitely have the right to feel angry and we should definitely express that. However, the lack of proactivity from South African citizens is one of the reasons as to why our government and state have been able to become corruptible.

Since South Africa is a democratic state and it has a progressive, transformative Constitution, the people who live in South Africa are automatically entitled to the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen of the state. South African citizens need to realise that we have a moral, social and political obligation to play an active role in our society, and this requires us taking part in discussions about legislation, political decisions and local, community events and activities. By relying solely on politicians and public office bearers to run the country and make decisions, we are essentially using less of our "people's power" which we are lucky to have. A ballot box vote is an important but we have even more power especially as active citizens.

After the axing of Pravin Gordhan, political leaders such as Barbara Hogan, Mmusi Maimane, Julius Malema and even Pravin Gordhan himself have called for citizens to play a more active role instead of complaining online and leaving it at that. Moreover, active citizenship is a pertinent part of finding, growing and developing the next leaders in society which means it is crucial that we start the process of partaking in discussions, forums, protests and movements throughout the country. This is not to say that people should take up arms or join a political party. No, this is a call for members of our society to get involved in issue-based events or assist civil society groups (NGOs, NPOs etc).

South Africans, we cannot rely on government and the state to run the country by themselves. We have a part to play in this too. We need to exercise our rights and fulfill our responsibilities and duties in order to achieve a better South Africa for all who live in it.