The biggest form of accountability is electoral accountability, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke has said.
“I think the people must stay vigilant and aware and the biggest form of accountability is electoral accountability,” he said in an interview with The Citizen.
“So, if you really want somebody to be responsible, you can remove them – if they don’t do their work, you remove them. If they do well, you bring them back.
“It’s a big democratic mechanism for accountability.”
Moseneke was speaking following the launch of the International Federation for Human Rights’ 39th Conference being held in Johannesburg this week. He added that he was positive about the country “and all of its people”.
“We are on a great trajectory … and people are not stupid. You don’t confuse uneducated and stupid. They have minds and they do find their voice. And that’s true of anybody.
“Whoever gets into power, you can almost be certain that people will judge them. It takes a long time, but ultimately they do it … apartheid – the same thing, people waited a long time. But when they really rose against it, it was for real. So we aren’t stupid all of us, and I think we are in a great country.”
Moseneke said socioeconomic conditions existing in the country still needed to be addressed.
“One of my deep concerns is the destruction of poverty. Not out of hand-outs, but out of creating new access in society so that it can grow. We need to migrate our concentration to how we actually equalise society,” he said.
“We need to put on our thinking caps now because we have achieved a lot politically. We have regular elections, you can criticise the president, you can write what you like, we have no political prisoners – most of those things are in place, so we have achieved a lot.
“But we have half of us who are poor. So we have to go back to the drawing board and maybe the quality of our education … We have to be serious about those things and how to think through creation of new opportunities – not just for jobs, but for including more people into a productive range.
“That, we need. We can’t be this great country and have people live the way they live. We have to understand it’s a collective challenge. It is not about race. Most people run to race as a refuge.”
However, it was about what plans “we put in place now to make sure that people were moved out of poverty in a meaningful way”, added Moseneke.
“We must look at what the state actually does and how public and private power is deployed in a society and what is its response to the terrain of fundamental rights of the people, he had said in his address to the conference.
“Once states get into a corner telltale [signs] begin to come out and show … starting with an attempt to repress free expression by journalists who don’t comply.”