Extract from the Paper
Are South Africans using their democratic rights to hold their government to account and to ensure that it responds to them? Are foreign aid donors, who repeatedly stress their support for South Africa’s new democracy, using their resources to help citizens to do that and to ensure that the democratic system works for them?
While much has been written about democracy, it is easy to forget that it is meant to ensure that rulers govern on behalf of, and are therefore responsible to, citizens. The primary means of ensuring this is regular elections, which enable citizens to remove from office representatives who do not respond to or effectively serve them. But, if this were the only method, it would offer those to whom governments are responsible only a weak means of ensuring responsiveness.
It is therefore a core element of democracy that citizens enjoy, between elections, the right and capacity to pronounce on government actions and policies and seek to influence them. And, while citizens enjoy this right as individuals, they are unlikely to be able to exert much influence unless they combine with others who share their interests or values. The associations in which citizens do this, organizations of civil society, are therefore crucial instruments of government accountability and responsiveness in a democracy.
To read the full report, click here.