This might be our last chance to get human rights and justice on the ballot

Lorenzo Davids writes that, ‘It’s our last chance to get human rights and justice on the ballot’. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Lorenzo Davids writes that, ‘It’s our last chance to get human rights and justice on the ballot’. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 2, 2023


The choice in 2024 is not between the ANC and the DA. Or the EFF, ActionSA, or any of the other 353 political parties registered as national or provincial contenders for power in South Africa. The choice is between the sacredness of human rights, the unambiguous loyalty to justice, and those who have scant regard for our Bill of Rights.

The choice is between those who defend and advance human rights and justice and those who treat the poor as dim-witted election fodder, lured by T-shirts and food parcels. The choice is between those who perpetuate policies of corrupt privilege and those who are standing up to dismantle the policies of corrupt privilege and its nefarious spawns that have no regard for justice or human rights.

Political parties will tell voters they are the alternative to an ailing ANC, who will in all probability crawl battered and bruised first over the finish line once again. The majority of political parties don’t reveal their own record on human rights interventions with local people.

They don’t have evidence of their work to secure justice for local communities. Some of the contenders for power have defended corrupt privilege, making sure the beneficiaries of apartheid remain safe and the victims of apartheid remain calm.

Governments throw money at a problem and call it justice and human rights. They throw money at contentious issues as a diversion, while the spatial constructs and multiple philosophies of privilege remain in place.

They confidently quote those diversions as robust examples of their policies to help the poor. Service delivery that is not taken through the crucible of human rights and justice is simply the placating of the voices of protest. Those voices of protest won’t go away.

Chapter 2 and Clause 7 of the Constitution says that “This Bill of Rights is a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality, and freedom”. The State can build a thousand houses and still be guilty of violating human rights if the other clauses in the Bill of Rights are ignored.

Clauses that address Equality, The Right to Dignity, and Freedom and Security of the Person are “crucible” clauses through which the great service delivery mantra must be judged.

The national or provincial contenders for power will all dress up their alternative or renewal policies to convince voters of their repentant hearts and their messianic calling to save South Africa. How many will talk about the Bill of Rights? Add to that the prophets of the economy shouting at politicians to revive the economy and all will be well.

No, it won’t. The growing number of grant-dependent individuals and households cannot be rescued by money alone. The low education levels and the vast number of unqualified people in the economy, political office and the civil service cannot be converted into educated and comprehending individuals overnight. Unless there is a Damascus Road conversion to justice and human rights, different people will make the same mistakes.

South Africans must consolidate around a human rights and justice mandate in 2024. Anything else will be like putting a band-aid on a chest pain when open-heart surgery is required. We have seen where throwing money at systemic problems got us.

It took us to the depths of corruption and got us to accept policies that perpetuated glaring subjugation and ignored human rights and justice for all. Despite all the money, the injustices and non-attendance to human rights demands in policy and budgets as well as the rampant corruption, have made us a weaker, more violent, and less astute society.

When you look at the ballot paper in 2024, look for where you see the brilliant light of human rights and justice. It is what will save us and protect our collective futures from political prowlers and their promises.

* Lorenzo A. Davids.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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