Transformation: keep it honest, keep it real

2013-11-19 10:00

The past few weeks have taken a toll on the unity of our party. It has been painful, and it has been very public.

It would be disingenuous not to admit that we have differing views and approaches on the issue of transformation, as we do on many other issues. After all, we are a democratic organisation and differences are what enrich us.

The issue of social transformation is one that clearly cannot happen merely in the black and white of policy documents.

It is not just a project for large corporations to contend with and internalise, it is one that must begin in every sphere of our society.

Recently, the ANC’s deputy president reportedly declared that if members of a particular community did not register to vote, and by implication vote for his party, the “boers” would return.

In that statement, he did not only strike at the very heart of our constitutional order, in whose embrace lies the belief that we are one people, he also admitted that the project of Nelson Mandela, which was to unite us as one people and heal our deep wounds, had failed.

He signalled that within our society – from the very heart of every individual and racial classification – lies a deep distrust of one another and a fear for change.

He also signalled that as there was the “swart gevaar” during apartheid, there is now the “wit gevaar”.

However disappointing these utterances may be because they come from one of the architects of our Constitution, they are sobering and somewhat reflect our state of being.

This is particularly telling, given that the ANC has been entrusted with the project of transformation by the majority of our people over the past two decades.

And the project within the DA, a party many of us are convinced is the most capable instrument to effect change and development for all our people, lies within this context.

Although some of our adversaries and critics see this as a clear sign of the vulnerabilities that are inherent in the DA merely because of our history, I personally understand it to be the very project we are undertaking to establish real change in our country.

Indeed, our history has made us vulnerable not just to accusations, but to all structural issues, good and bad, that exist in South Africa.

The project of transformation of a people and society requires brave and diligent activists and democrats.

I’ve been a member of the DA for more than a decade now. Over this period, the party has gone a long way to find its strength and build a personality that appeals to millions from various corners of our wonderful country.

We are a party of government now. Various issues we could have only engaged with theoretically as an opposition party must now be engaged with practically.

As a leader within our society, I believe we must engage frankly and openly on every issue – in particular, this issue of transformation, and central to the issue is transforming the look and feel of our economy in order to guarantee all South Africans access to opportunities and the possibility of prosperity for all enterprising individuals from every race and gender.

Most of all, we need to address the transformation of our hearts and minds as we heal the rifts from our cruel past.

I would like to challenge all stakeholders – from the media to our fiercest critics – to sustain the project of keeping us honest. We are South Africans, leading on South African issues.

It would be strange not to contend, on a personal level, with the pertinent issues.

» Gana is a deputy federal chairperson of the DA, the former DA Youth leader and a DA councillor in the City of Johannesburg

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