The democratisation process in South Africa has subjected the country to the global effects of the challenges that culminated in a nation that is facing the demands for socioecomonic needs coupled with technological advancement. Advances in technology in the global arena present both opportunities and threats to the South African democracy and its concomitant socioeconomic imperatives. The democratisation process in South Africa is consequential to the inextricably bound relationship between technology, modernisation and democracy. This triad pattern precipitates the South African democratic political system. Advances in technology are also imperative for human and national security, but the intensity of pervasiveness may have serious ramifications for the appraisal for political stability in a democratic South Africa. Technology is one of the major sources underpinning and strengthening democracy in a political system. However, technology also affects the daily life of the ordinary citizen, depending on the manner in which decisions are made to implement a technology policy. The South African government through its technology approach has an action plan for growth, which aims to set the economy on a more competitive footing. The action plan engages major technological projects to benefit the broader society but overlooks a major factor in the "democratic theory of technology", namely the imperative that communities be consulted about technology decisions. These efforts are concerned exclusively with democratic procedures in making policy decisions about technologies. The South African government in 1996 reformed its technology policy approach so as to ensure that democratic values are prevalent and that citizens have access to technology. This policy approach raises concern about improving the democratic and the socioeconomic wellbeing of society, while inversely there is the uncertainty whether advances in technology can support and enhance the intended policy approach in the democratisation process in South Africa. This problem of whether technologies are substantively democratic, that is whether technology policy decisions are compatible with perpetuating a democratic political system, resulted in the need to investigate and appraise democratic theories and further critically analyse approaches and challenges in democratic politics of technology within the South African democratic political system. The study looks at the role and magnitude of technology in a democratic South Africa. It presents and argues the hypothesis that “greater advance in technology tends to enhance the democratisation process in a political system”. Much of the argument is devoted to providing evidence that technology influences both human and national security and as such demonstrates how technology as a systematic application of knowledge to resources can provide a good tool for sustaining democracy in South Africa. Technology is ubiquitous within South Africa’s democratic political system and it may be considered a boon or bane. It encompasses both benefits and disadvantages such that it poses complex options for a democratic political system in both its approach and implementation within a policy framework. The social dichotomy of this policy framework raises the need for further inquiry as to the reasoning and application of technology in addressing socioeconomic imperatives for concretising democracy, thus creating “a better life for all”. The democratic imperatives within the policy framework dictate an analysis to the ventured hypothesis that “advances in technology will enhance democracy in a political system”, and it is in this regard that South Africa is used as an archetype to disembark at a logical deduction to validate this hypothesis in the study.
Thesis (PhD (Political Sciences))--University of Pretoria, 2006.