On 15 July 2022 the Inclusive Society Institute’s (ISI) Daryl Swanepoel, CEO and Klaus Kotzé met with the Cultural Religious and Linguistic Rights Commission’s (CRL) represented by Prof Mosoma (Chairperson), Dr Sylvia Pheto (Deputy Chairperson), Mr Brian Makeketa (Senior Manager: Research & Policy development) and Mr Mpiyakhe Mkholo (Senior Manager: Communications).
The CRL is a Chapter 9 organisation, receiving its mandate from the Constitution. It is therefore a significant and influential body that plays a key role in pursuing democratic development and Constitutional consolidation. The occasion of the meeting stemmed from a discussion between Mr. Swanepoel and Professor Mosoma to deepen the conversation between the two organisations, with a view to pursue areas for cooperation.
During the meeting, the ISI and CRL shared its insights and ideas, giving ideational shape to an upcoming conference later in the year on democracy, social cohesion and public leadership. The CRL will be invited to participate. It was necessary to take stock of democracy, to ask whether democracy is working and what it would mean for democracy to work, both in South Africa and abroad. In this context, the question of democratic identity plays a central role. What does our South African vision of unity in diversity really mean and how do we achieve this? To this the role of strong, democratic leadership is key. While in the past democratic leaders were the giants of the political world, now there appears to be a leadership deficit. What does democratic leadership mean in the 21st century?
Tying these ideas together is the recognition that democratic fragility is an international phenomenon. Many developed democracies are also experiencing their own crises. For this reason, multilateralism will function as the conference’s fourth component. A variety of international partner organisations will be invited to participate in the conference.
Professor Mosoma led the CRL’s contribution as pertaining to the conference brief. The professor pointed out that the concept of democracy has become decontextualised, both internationally and in South Africa. It is important to ask how it functions in the community where it is introduced. Whether the people buy into the concept. Many of the reasons why democracy is waning is due to the lack of democratic dividend – the people do not experience the delivery of the democratic promise. They do not experience, nor do they express their democratic power. They therefore do not take responsibility as citizens in the developmental state. Furthermore, he asked, how can people speak of unity in diversity when crime and gated communities represent the expressions of their desperation and fear? We need to find a common understanding of what unity in diversity really means. This conference must be bold, must ask difficult questions and must come up with tangible results. To give expression of how to do things differently. To articulate the characteristics of good leadership, to pull everyone together at this time, which like 1994, represents a crossroad for which a new road map is needed. In closing the representatives agreed that the conference cannot only be a talk shop. It must be bold, critical and strategic.