Our democracy is under threat - Defend Our Democracy

People’s democracy being subverted by purposeful cartel undermining good governance, says campaign (18 March 2021)


18 March 2021

Twenty-five years ago, the people of this nation adopted the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996), enshrining in the history of the country the very first democratic code of rights, entitlements and responsibilities governing the conduct of the people and the state.

The Constitution affirms a decisive break from a history of 350 years of ruthless colonial exploitation, apartheid oppression and the cruel under-development of the majority of South Africans, wherein generations were consigned to a life of servitude, poverty and violence.

Embedded within the Constitution are the principles of justice and reconciliation; a profound commitment to human rights, restitution and the establishment of a democratic society founded on equality, dignity, tolerance and prosperity for all the people of this land. All these make our Constitution a towering and sacred achievement of all the peoples of South Africa.

The adoption of the Constitution has enabled South Africans to experience the liberty afforded by free elections and full participation in a democratic society; enjoying freedom of association, expression and movement; a robust media and a widely trusted judiciary. Our deeply valued Constitution - a binding source of national unity - now faces a serious threat.

For more than a decade, parliamentary and political accountability, particularly under the governing party, have been seriously undermined. Signs of the government’s increasing inability to protect its citizens have caused great anxiety among our people. The restiveness in the population has grown as various institutions of governance have been severely tested, some to breaking point.

Recently, a former president of our country, once described in a Constitutional Court judgement as embodying the “constitutional being” of the Republic, defied an order of the same Court instructing him to continue providing witness testimony at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture (the Zondo Commission). This astonishing defiance by a former Head of State not only violates the law but assails the Constitution itself.

While the normal institutional processes necessitated by such an attack on our Constitution are underway, the former president, frustrated by the impeccable conduct of an independent judiciary, has now launched a malicious attack on the judiciary itself, particularly on the Constitutional Court, the cornerstone of our Constitution.

The threat to our constitutional democracy goes beyond that posed by an individual. It illustrates how that individual embodies a political culture fundamentally antithetical to democracy: the cult of personality, rule by factional dictate, nepotism, and totalitarianism in a securitised state.

Every day, South Africans are witness to:

- Unrestrained large-scale looting, which has destabilised the state and brought the economy to the brink of collapse. The proceedings of various Commissions of Inquiry, including those investigating state capture, the South African Revenue Services and the Public Investment Corporation, have detailed what has amounted to an acute decay in public governance and business practice.

- The brazen intention by beneficiaries of corruption to utilise the proceeds of their corruption not only for personal accumulation, but to enable a reportedly well-organised cartel of compromised politicians, highly placed state functionaries, and local and international business accomplices to stall the prosecution of the perpetrators and beneficiaries of state capture.

- Disparate parties directly implicated in the state capture project that have been enlisted to amplify the former president’s unlawful defiance of the Constitutional Court. The deployment of personnel in army camouflage playing the role of a private militia, the very existence of which offends the letter and spirit of our democracy, is an ominous dimension of this anti-constitutional conduct.

Our people fought for and chose constitutional democracy as a bulwark against fascism and dictatorship. The way in which the people’s democracy is being subverted by this purposeful cartel undermining good governance, eroding accountability and promoting misrule, points to how those who subvert it will govern South Africa should they succeed. After a century of struggle for liberty, South Africa cannot return to the totalitarian order that brought such misery and suffering to its people.

Our future as a democracy is only as secure as our refusal to tolerate the destabilisation of the state and our unyielding defence of the Constitution, the foundational creed of this nation and the supreme law of the land. We therefore, call on all people to defend the abiding values enshrined in the Constitution.

They should be in no doubt that we are essentially a nation of resilient people who have overcome extreme intolerance and hardship and whose legacy and heritage are not to be trifled with, let alone stolen.

We, the people from every political, racial, gender, ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural and class backgrounds, united under and loyal to our Constitution, must now reclaim what has given us collective dignity, self-respect and the admiration of the world.

We therefore, call on all people of goodwill to vigorously oppose this threat to our democracy and to stand united against those intent on violating the values and principles embodied in our Constitution.

Our resistance must be resolute against those determined to make a wasteland of this great country.


Endorsed by:


Adam Craker

Adrian Enthoven

Adrian Gore

Adv Adila Hassim

Ahmed Cachalia

Ahmed Cajee

Alec Erwin

Allan Taylor

Allan Wentzel

Anant Singh

André Bartlett

Andrew Gasnolar

Angela Bester

Aninka Claassens

Anton Harber

Aslam Dasoo

Azania Matiwane

Azar Jammine

Barbara Hogan

Barbara Masakela

Barned la Grange

Beatrice Marshoff

Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa

Bonang Mohale

Boyce Mpempe

Bulumko Msengana

Burton Jaganathan

Busisiwe Mavuso

Caroline Smith

Cas Coovadia

Chico Patel

Chris Vick

Cobus Bester

Colin Coleman

Colin Smuts

Colleen du Toit

Craig Padayachee

Cynthia Stimpel

Dave Porter

Dawie Jacobs

Devoshum Moodley-Veera

Dipak Patel

Dr Azar Jammine

Dr Fazel Randera

Dr John Maloma

Dr Kamy Chetty

Dr Lindie Koorts

Dr Lumkile Mondi

Dr Marjorie Jobson

Dr Natalya Dinat

Dr Sham Moodley

Dr Zola Mbovane

Ebrahim Rasool

Edwin Hertzog

Edwina van der Burg

Ela Gandhi

Erica Elk

Ernest Theron

Essop Pahad

Fr Michael Lapsley

Frank Chikane

Frank Meintjies

Futhi Mtoba

Gary Pienaar

Geoff Budlender SC

Gertruida Prekel

Ghalib Galant

Goolam Aboobaker

Gustav Wilson

Hanif Randera

Helen Rees

Horst Kleinschmidt

Hugh Gosnell

Ilse Fischer Wilson

Isaac Moroe

Ishaam Mullajee

Ivan Pillay

Ivor Chipkin

Jenny Schreiner

Joanna Nkosi

Joanne Yawitch

Joe Mwase

Joel Sibanda

Johann van Loggerenberg

Judge Thumba Pilay

Judith February

Kamela Masuku

Karuna Mohan

Khumo Shuenyane

Koogan Pillay

Krish G

Kristen Abrahams

Latifa Omar

Lawson Naidoo

Lebogang Mpempe

Leon Wessels

Lindi Mazibuko

Lindile Mteza

Lindiwe Mabuza

Loretta Jacobus

Lumkile Mondi

Lyndall Shope-Malofe

Lynn Abrahams

Mafeno Phora

Makate Sheila Mashile-Sisulu

Maria Burton

Marjorie Jobson

Mark Spyker

Martin Dolny

Martin Kingston

Mary Burton

Masuku Sampson Kamela

Mathulwane Mpshe

Mavuso Msimang

Meg Fargher

Melanie Verwoerd

Mfanufikile Skosana

Michiel le Roux

Mike Abel

Miles Japhet

Mkhuseli Jack

Mmusi Maimane

Moe Shaik

Monde Ntebe

Morley Nkosi

Mosibudi Mangena

Moss Ntlha

Mu-Aalima Fakude

Muhammed Choonara

Murphy Morobe

Mustapha Isaacs

Mxolisi Dukwana

Mxolisi Mgojo

Nadas Pillay

Nat Phomane

Natalya Dinat

Neeshan Balton

Neil Froneman

Nersan Govender

Nilesh Singh

Niven Maraj

Nkulie Pityana

Palesa Morudu

Peace Centre

Peggy Pillay

Percy Mahlathi

Peter Tarantal

Peter Vundla

Philip van Ryneveld

Pingla Udit

Piyushi Kotecha

Pops Rampersad

Prof Abdool Karim

Prof Andre Odendaal

Prof David Everatt

Prof Farid Esack

Prof Harald Winkler

Prof Heinrich Prekel

Prof Ivan Turok

Prof Janet Cherry

Prof Nick Binedell

Prof Shabir Madhi

Prof Wannie Carstens

Prof Willie Esterhuyse

Rev Prof Peter Storey

Richard Rosenthal

Rick Menell

Rod Solomons

Rufus Ledwaba

Ruth Rice

Sadna Balton

Sagie Pillay

Sakkie Potgieter

Sandile Dayi

Shaeera Kalla

Shaheda Omar

Sheila Sisulu

Sihle Msengana

Siphiwe Ndebele

Siphiwe Nxumalo

Sipho Mabuse

Sipho Mahlangu

Sipho Pityana

Sizwe Mabizela

Smuts Matshe

Solly Mapaila

Strike Moyakhe

Sunny Morgan

Sydney Mufamadi

Tebogo Fafudi

Tebogo Khaas

Thabo Mahlangu

Thandi Orleyn

Thembi Msibi

Theo Steele

Thozamile Botha

Tim Wilson

Tower Itumeleng Mosala

Tracey Henry

Trevor Fowler

Trevor Manuel

Trish Hanekom

Truida Prekel

Vanessa September

Vassie Naidoo

Vincent Barnes

Vincent Zwelibanzi Mntambo

Viviene Taylor

Vusi Pikoli

Wally Serote

Wannie Carstens

Wayne Duvenage

Wayne Jean-Pierre

Wendy Appelbaum

Yousuf Vawda

Yvonne Muthien

Zandile Myeni

Zavareh Rustomjee

Zeph Makgetla

Zohra Ebrahim

Zolile Ngcakani

Zubeida Jaffer

Zunaid Mosam



Active Citizens Movement

Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

Amnesty International South Africa

Black Lives Matter Foundation

Business Unity South Africa

CDT Foundation NPC

Centre for Good Governance and Social Justice NPC


Constitution Hill Trust

Corruption Watch

COSATU Gauteng Province

COSATU North West

COSATU Young Workers Forum

Ecumenical Leadership Council NPO

Free State Activists for Social Justice Against Corruption

Free State ANC Anti Corruption Lobby Campaign

Freedom Under Law

Gandhi Development Trust

Gauteng Together Working Group

In Transformation Initiative (ITI)

Institute for Healing of Memories

Johannesburg Against Injustice (JAI)

Khulumani Support Group

Legal Resources Centre

Legal Resources Trust

Lombard Insurance Group

Merebank Justice Network

Millenium Trust

MK National Council

Movement for a United South Africa (MUSA)

National Interfaith Council of South Africa (NICSA)

Ntwane Community Development Forum

One South Africa Movement

Open Secrets

Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse

Phoenix Settlement Trust

Public Affairs Research Institute

Public Interest SA


South African Hindu Maha Sabha

Strategic Dialogue Group

Strategic Dialogue Group in Limpopo

Survivors of State Capture at SARS Trauma Support Group

SynNovation Solutions

Teddy Bear Foundation for Abused Children

The Active Citizens Movement

The Congress Of Business & Economics SA

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation

The Gauteng Together Working Group

The Greater Mayfair Civic Association

The House of MCC

The Strategic Dialogue Group

The Working Group of Former DGs, representing more than 40 DGs from the First and Second Administrations

Transformation & Development SA

United Front of Civics

We, the People movement

YCLSA in Moses Mabhida (KZN) Province

Issued by Defend Our Democracy, 18 March 2021