South Africa’s past twenty years of multiparty democracy have, undoubtedly, been a sharp learning curve. Since the inception of SA’s democratic government in its current form, on April 27th 1994, we have faced numerous challenges.
The ongoing analysis of the way the curve is bending varies significantly in its tone. Furthermore, there is an open and intense debate surrounding the form and development of our democracy, which in itself is a healthy sign.
However, friend and foe agree that our democracy is not yet strongly rooted in the daily lives of the wider citizenry. Indeed, democracy remains fragile.
Under the democratic constitution, South Africa has been equipped with a wide spectrum of institutions. Yet the mere existence of these institutions does not necessarily guarantee the implementation of democratic practices and values. For example, the active promotion of transparency, participation, accountability, respect and equality.
A well-rooted culture of democracy grows over time through the practice of democratic values in the daily interactions between citizens and those who govern on their behalf.
South Africa still tops the list of nations with high inequality, and poverty remains pervasive. As a result, conflicts around poor government delivery and social rights as guaranteed under the constitution – in particular, housing, education and health services – are widespread. Expectations and delivery capacity collide, with destructive outcomes.
To manage such conflicts peacefully (the ability of which is one of the hallmarks of democracy) there needs to be increased knowledge-sharing regarding the use of democratic tools and instruments for resolving disputes.
Democracy Works Foundation has been established to facilitate and support this critical process.
Drawing on innovative and carefully designed strategies, Democracy Works aims to assist in further rooting and entrenching real democracy in South Africa.