07/12/2016 04:19 GMT | Updated 07/12/2016 06:21 GMT

Forget State Capture, Let's Talk About The Capture Of Democracy

CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation says attention should shift to the capture of democracy

Adam Hunger / Reuters
CEO of the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory Sello Hatang speaks at a news conference on Mandela's plaque dedication at Yankee Stadium in New York April 16, 2014. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL POLITICS)

The Chief Executive Officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Sello Hatang says South Africa should shift its attention from state capture to the capture of democracy.

Speaking during the 3rd anniversary memorial of the late President Nelson Mandela, he questioned the current position of the country and asked what the fight against apartheid was for if people remain poor. He said over the last few years the Nelson Mandela foundation has been engaged in international dialogues which have exposed the reality and discourses around the world.

"In my experience leaders disagree on almost everything but on one question disturbingly, there seems to be a consensus. Democracy is beginning to fail us if it hasn't failed us already. Within South Africa, we talk a lot about state capture but I think it's time for us to talk about the capture of democracy," said Hatang.

He said the capture of the democracy was evident in how the poor struggle to access the justice system as well as other fundamental institutions enshrined in the Constitution. Hatang quipped about the rich being able to find loopholes within the system to protect themselves due to the funds available to them.

"We see this when the Constitution delivers protection to those who can afford to access it. Where the powerful can use the instruments of law to delay justice indefinitely. When we see daily the inability to reach ordinary people and for them to be part of the system," he said.

Hatang gave examples of how issues that mostly affect the poor only get attention when they start to impact on the rich. He said for many years' black students have been protesting about expensive university fees but the movement only gained recognition when it started emerging at affluent universities.

"We see townships burn due to protests but their distance from the middle classes and the ruling elite is so great that their issues are easily forgotten. In fact, evident in the student movement is the same reality. We thought that fees must fall and all the other challenges were a reality today because they came out of UCT and Wits. These have been continuing struggles for many years. It is precisely because the student protests enjoy a proximity to the elites that their issues are prioritized," he added.

Hatang said what was happening in the country was far from what Mandela wanted. He said despite the shift from the envisaged rainbow nation, it was not too late to turn the corner and return to the course set out by Madiba.

"The country of Madiba's dreams is within our grasp if we work harder," he said.

At the same event, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa echoed Hatang's sentiments: "For as long as the natural state of black South Africans is poor and the natural state of a white South African is privileged, we will never succeed in building a non-racial society."