An Open Letter to Ben Turok MP

Paul Trewhela questions the appointment of an unelected president

When my old comrade from Pretoria Local Prison, Ben Turok, nominated Kgalema Motlanthe in Parliament today as the future President of South Africa, did he recall that the Congress of the People at Kliptown on 26th June 1955 stated in its first paragraph, headed "The People Shall Govern", that: "Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make laws"?

And did he recall that the new President did not stand as a candidate in a general election, in which the people might have exercised their "right to vote" for him as their candidate in the supreme of all bodies "which make laws"?

And did Ben Turok forget that President Motlanthe was nominated as a future member of Parliament by a closed meeting of party bosses only on 6th May this year, less than five months ago?

And that he was sworn in as a member of Parliament as recently as 21st May, four months and four days ago, never having presented himself to the voters of the country?

In which case, what is the point of having elections?

Would Ben Turok care to explain what was the point of the Congress of the People, when the letter and the spirit of the first article of the Freedom Charter which issued from it were violated by the manner of selection - not, ultimately, election - of the country's new President?

Should he not ask himself whether in this case the African National Congress has not deprived the people of the "right to vote" for candidates of their own choice in a reasonable and transparent process, in which the elected candidates might choose one of their own number - a genuinely elected person - as the supreme power-holder in the state?

And would it not be reasonable, in that case, to conclude that the ANC itself has violated the spirit of the Freedom Charter?

In which case, what is the point of the ANC?