The Defend our Democracy campaign’s Conference for Democratic Renewal and Change kicked off in Johannesburg on 1 July.
Giving the keynote inputs at the conference were former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas and political scientist at the University of Pretoria, Professor Sandy Africa.
“Alarm bells are sounding and we need to up the tempo of defending democracy globally and in South Africa,” warned Jonas.
He said South Africa needed renewal in order to stop a “democratic backsliding”, weakening the political system, and that weak state institutions caused the state to be the biggest threat to democracy.
Attacks on the Constitution were becoming increasingly common to undermine SA’s democratic institutions, he said. That does not mean constitutional amendments cannot be undertaken, but conversations need to be rational.
“In fact, one of the key propositions I suggested this morning, on electoral reform, would require a constitutional amendment. What we must ensure is that all reforms are well-considered and subject to what [Indian economist and Nobel laureate] Amartya Sen calls democratic public reasoning.
“The role of our security establishment, or at least elements thereof, in the 2021 July unrest; the political assassinations within the governing party; the assassinations of whistleblowers; and the…