Friedman’s Power in Action launched at TUT

4 October 2019

Power in Action: Democracy, Citizenship and Social Justice, the latest book by Prof Steven Friedman, academic, newspaper columnist, widely quoted public intellectual, activist, former trade unionist and journalist, was launched at the Tshwane University of Technology’s eMalahleni Campus on 2 October 2019. The book provides an overview of the foundation of the South African democracy after the general elections in 1994. 

Prof Steven Friedman addressing students about the foundation of his book, Power in Action: Democracy, citizenship and social justice at the eMalahleni Campus.

Speaking at the event hosted by Student Affairs and Extracurricular Development, Prof Friedman said people often misinterpret the concept of democracy in South Africa because they compare it with colonialism.

“Democracy allows citizens to express themselves freely without being limited by any third party, wherein colonialism was imposed to change black people’s perception about the way of doing their things.”

According to Prof Friedman, colonization was meant to change how black people perceive themselves and to make them feel less important compared to western people. He added that the book aims to revive the spirit of democracy in South Africa. Even though it is hard to maintain democracy, people should continue to fight to make it work for the best of all.

“Since 1994, after the elections, many things have not yet been achieved. However, we cannot say we are not living in a democracy, instead we should strive to make sure it works.”

Prof Friedman said that now in South Africa democracy seem to benefit those who control the economy because they are the ones who are in the forefront of everything.

He said leaders are elected into power through the will of the people, by the people (democracy); but when they are in power, they often fail to deliver what is in the interest of the people who voted for them. According to him, the situation in South Africa is that those who are in power are not enabling democracy and make it active in all sectors.

“People are able to mobilize themselves and demonstrate anger when they want transformation, but there are some of the things in the democracy they cannot achieve without those in assistance of those in power.”

In his closing remarks, he said in due course South Africans would receive economic democracy, as they did with political democracy. He added that he hoped this book will bring about change in the minds of young people and that they would be able to see the true roots of democracy as opposed to what the country is experiencing. 

Dr Coneth Richards, eMalahleni Campus Rector; Dr Marius Dieperink; Prof Steven Friedman and Thomas Mnisi at the launch of Power in Action: Democracy, citizenship and social justice.

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