The past few centuries have seen modern democratic society progresses with the help of political parties. From many unjust practices like slave labour, racial and gender discrimination to a point in history where every citizen in a modern democratic country has equal rights in almost every aspect of living like the right to medical and pension care, the right to vote, to work and to own property.
So political parties have served their purpose in these progressive practices but do we really need political parties going forward? I don’t think so.
Here are just five of many reasons why political parties are today more detrimental than beneficial:
- Taxpayers have to pay the cost to organise and run regular local and national elections as well as the salaries of all the employees in all the political parties which in many cases have an unnecessarily large “cadre” workforce;
- Political parties' main focus is to hold on to the vote for the next elections at whatever cost or means, irrespective of the current or future wellbeing of the nation;
- Political parties cover up for each other with regards to corruption, inefficiencies and mismanagement;
- Political parties make changes to the constitution to suit their own agendas and in some cases to enable them to remain in power indefinitely such as in Russia and China; and
- Political parties are not really concerned about the real and serious damage to our natural environment as a result of the constant pursuit for technological advancement and backing the insatiable greed of big business whose money funds political parties .
Would you allow an unqualified, uneducated cardiac surgeon to perform heart surgery on you or your child? Absolutely not! So why are we not ensuring that we have the best qualified, most experienced and intelligent people leading our respective countries?
There are many countries all around the world who have leaders that are completely unqualified in many aspects for their respective positions of leadership. This should not be allowed to happen but it does happen because the winning political party put them in that leadership position and continues to keep them in that position even if it is to the detriment of the country as a whole.
Leading a country is in many ways like leading a successful business. In all of the big international listed companies where millions of dollars of shareholders' money is involved, there are in-depth selective processes in place to ensure that the most qualified people are in key leadership positions, like the CEO and CFO.
So why are the same in-depth selective processes not required where hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers money are involved?
The change that we need going forward is not going to happen from within our current political parties as they themselves have much to lose; the change is going to have to come from some other means.
The first step would be for the citizens to demand a national referendum where people can vote either to do away with political parties or to keep them.
A practical framework can be set up by a team of experienced qualified people from various sectors like legal, business and the public sector regarding the specifics required for the position of leaders at national level.
All the necessary criteria for accountability, checks and balances and performance reviews similar to those in the business environment should be included in the referendum so that citizens can make an informed decision in the referendum when they cast their votes.
• De Vos is a Sowetan reader