Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Tutu's Tirade
Trust Desmond, South Africa's 'moral compass', to tell it like it is. Attacking the stifling of open debate in South Africa, Tutu said that "the culture of vigorous debate which had characterised the anti-apartheid movement seemed to have given way to servile, self-seeking flattery. An unthinking, uncritical, kowtowing party line-toeing is fatal to a vibrant democracy."

He also stated that he was concerned to see how many had so easily been "seemingly cowed and apparently intimidated to comply", and questioned whether proportional representation would continue to be a good system if it was not linked to constituency representation. Saying that sycophancy seemed to be coming into its own, Tutu said: "I would have wished to see far more open debate, for instance, of the HIV and Aids views of the president in the ANC. There surely can't have been unanimity from the outset."

Let's hope that this will embolden not only the press, but those within the ANC structures itself. However, Tutu's point on proportional representation and its ability to stifle controversial politicians (lest they lose their place on the party list) is notable, so don't expect a flood of Mbeki naysayers anytime soon...