Government works for us and we should never let it forget that

Government works for us and we should never let it forget that

By Candice Holdsworth

As an avid politico I have in recent months been completely captivated by the run-up to the US mid-term elections. Political campaigning in the US is somewhat of a media spectacle, of which the candidates are acutely aware, and as such, usually perform accordingly. It’s often highly entertaining with classic soundbites such as “How’s that hopey changey thing workin’ out for ya?” from the likes of Sarah Palin coupled with the rise of a genuinely novel political movement like the Tea Party. Who could resist? Similarly in SA we are not without our own political intrigue. Not too long ago, although, it is now old news, the ANC party conference in a manner reminiscent of Elizabethan-era factionalism was dominated by the feuding between the ANC leadership and its very own youth league. Zuma vs Malema. Gripping stuff.

We may be at risk, however, of getting lost in the soap opera quality of it all and forget that these same people work for us. Although, the Tea Party is often associated with the highly quotable, controversial personalities of Christine “I’m not a witch” O’Donnell and Sarah “Drill Baby Drill” Palin, the message behind the movement is much more serious and lofty in aim. Quite simple really: less spending, more representation. It is an attempt to push back against politicians behaving like landed aristocracy and treating public office as if it were some kind of entitlement. Sound familiar?

Of course many express reservations about the Tea Party, and perhaps justifiably feel it has been hijacked by raving lunatics and vested interest — an issue I could easily discuss at length. However, my focus for the time being is not on the movement as a whole but the ideal behind it: that governments must always remain accountable to the people they are elected to serve. In the US this is achieved by creating a grassroots political movement. In South Africa this is achieved most effectively by an ever-vigilant media comprised of ordinary tax-paying individuals, like you and I, without whom government could not possibly exist. The world over decries the death of investigative journalism. Not in South Africa where the media takes an active role in chipping away that little bit harder, and exposing the rot within. Much to the chagrin of those they expose.

In an age of unprecedented access to information, the proposed Media Tribunal Bill and the Protection of Information Bill will serve to cast South Africans back to another age. As with those who fell out of favour with Henry Tudor or Louis XIV, we will, like those wretched souls, be interminably confined to a solitary tower of ignorance inside of which, the only conversation we’ll be having will be with our not so benevolent captors, our only source of information, as we become increasingly mentally enslaved to the whims of a state acting purely in its own interest.

Do not internalise the lie that the media behave irresponsibly and that this legislation is for our benefit. It is not. Government works for us, and we should never let it forget that. More importantly we should never forget that.

Candice Holdsworth is a freelance writer who recently completed an MSc in political theory at the London School of Economics.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 at 2:43 pm and is filed underPerspectiveNews & Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Government works for us and we should never let it forget that”

You are so wrong! The government works for the interests of the ANC, not for ours. We only blindly vote to keep them in power and luxury.
It is nothing but wishful thinking, misplaced idealism and naivete that says that we taxpayers, who hold up the whole edifice of society count at all. We are just voting fodder and someone to blame for the abysmal failures caused everyday by our rulers.

(Report abuse)

ian shaw on November 17th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Whoop-di-da Candice! – and your lofty political ideals are relevant here in Africa?!Here (in fact) we are slaves working FOR the government. The only problem is – the slaves don’t realize it. You,Candice, only serve to perpetuate their control.

(Report abuse)

Waldo Pepper on November 17th, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Bravo Candice!!!

(Report abuse)

Lenny Appadoo on November 17th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Dissatisfaction with big government seems to be a growing worldwide trend. More and more people are attaching themselves to the cause of liberty.

(Report abuse)

Ernst Malley on November 17th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

While in one sense I like having something to disagree with, as with your first blog, it can also lead to an open-ended argument. Not here. It’s great to see your views expressed unashamedly, unequivocally, and with such fire and elegance.


(Report abuse)

Dave Dexter on November 17th, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Give ‘em hell Candice! Let’s hope South Africans get wise to what the government is trying to do before it’s too late.

(Report abuse)

Eoghan on November 18th, 2010 at 1:14 am



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