Brexit, the Election of Donald Trump and Activism in South Africa, Lessons for Democracy: The Contribution of Justice Sandile Ngcobo
Keywords:Democracy, Public Participation, Political Participation, Meaningful Participation, Economic Justice, Karl Marx
Ngcobo Jâ€™s conception of democracy is more in keeping with the ancient understanding, found in the Athenian city-state, traditional African societies and in the writings of Karl Marx. The traditional conception, affirmed by Rousseau, requires the direct participation of the population in the decision-making processes that affect their lives. The Athenian notion of the participation of the population in a town hall meeting is not practical in a large nation state. Ngcobo J developed a hybrid model that combines elected representatives and participatory democracy. Under this model, the lawmaker is required to provide for meaningful modes of participation by bringing the opportunity for participation to the people through provincial participation. In the annals of comparative constitutional law, Ngcobo Jâ€™s opinion is an outlier, which represents a unique and fresh perspective of democracy much like the Constitutional Courtâ€™s development of socio-economic rights and the use of the reasonableness standard to determine the legality of government conduct. Ngcobo J does not equate political equality with equality of opportunity. Apart from requiring the government to provide for citizen participation in the polity, he imposes a further duty on the government to take affirmative steps like educational programs road shows, workshops, media programs and publications to make citizen participation a reality for the historically disadvantaged and those with unequal education. His perspective offers a cogent instruction to the rest of the world, in this period where democracy is under serious strain.
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