South Africans must defend democracy at grass roots - Kenan Malik

30 September 2015 | Story by Newsroom
Kenan Malik.
Kenan Malik.

Following his recent visit to Cape Town, where he delivered the TB Davie Memorial Lecture at UCT, American writer, lecturer and broadcaster Kenan Malik has written an opinion piece in which he reflects on the state of South Africa's democracy.

“It is a telling comment on the state of contemporary South Africa that the government can be chastised for being less democratic than it was under apartheid.”

These are the words of Kenan Malik in an opinion piece published in the New York Times on 22 September, reflecting on insights he gained during a recent visit to Cape Town. 

Malik, who is also the author of The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics, was the guest speaker at the TB Davie Memorial Lecture at UCT on 13 August 2015 where he addressed the topic of free speech in the age of identity politics.

In his article, Malik asserts that if the future of South Africa “is not to be totally bleak”, hope lies in the struggles for democracy against the corrupt elite.

He cites the example of grass roots recent resistance to the Traditional Courts Bill which would have effectively deprived rural people of their democratic rights.

He cites a recent landmark court ruling that upholds the Cala Reserve Community's rights to choose their own leader. 

This ruling is due, in no small part, to the expert evidence given by Professor Lungisile Ntsebeza during the court action. Ntsebeza is the AC Jordan Chair in African Studies and holder of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Chair in Land Reform and Democracy at UCT.

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