A Secret Vote is Unethical

Politicians have no skin-in-the-game — the ethical always trumps the legal.

South Africa is facing a moral crisis. Citizens are calling for the president to step down before the end of his term 2019. The downgrading to junk status has intensified this call. However, citizens as people who have skin-in-the-game their powers in the short term are limited. And have began exhausting their limited power through rolling mass actions and demonstrations across the country. In the medium term, they have to wait for JZ to complete his term. And show their dismay at JZ & the ANC at the ballot box.

In this instance we realize that democracy is failing citizens, and particularly the weak, marginalized and poor who are exposed and suffer for the poor decisions made by the president together with the ruling party. It suffices to say a democracy that does not protect the weak from harm or cannot remove a bad leader needs revision. The citizens face the downside risk of the decision to reshuffle cabinet without a care for market forces. In other words, the politician ‘keeps his upside and transfers downside to others.

Members of parliament unlike ordinary citizens have avenues to urgently express their dissatisfaction with the president on behalf of the citizens. They have decided to file for a motion of no confidence against JZ. The bone of contention is whether the vote should be by secret ballot or not. The debate from both sides rests on legal arguments. What both sides forget is that the law can be gamed with a good lawyer. in this instance it would be prudent to remember the words of Nassim Taleb that modernity has replaced ethics with the legalese.

If we are to inject an sense of skin-in-the-game into politicians we should demand the vote be done by open ballot. And further more results should be published stipulating which politician vote for or against the removal of the president. Firstly, this gives citizens to name and shame those who are associated with promoting a corrupt and rogue president. Secondly, it’s a good signal about future candidates moral compass. Thirdly, with a few candidates (Ramaphosa and co.) starting to challenge the president in public, we need to observe if their behavior is consistent at the ballot box.

An open vote is about ethics rather the legal. The principle is, we ought to know what politicians are doing. They accountable to citizens. An open vote will give citizens their right to know about decisions made on their behalf and this provide more leverage at the ballot box come 2019. If they unhappy they can mobilize against equally corrupt candidates who want to be president in the near future.

Holomisa’s argument in short: let’s protect rent seeking cowards from their party leaders to vote with their conscience? I certainly don’t want to be led by cowards. If they want Zuma out we need to know who they are, so that they exposed to the downside and upside of the outcome.

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