Dalai Lama has woken apathetic voters

2009-03-28 00:00

With the elections less than a month away, what is being said and done by politicians seems to draw a lot of attention, more than at any normal time or even after the elections.

One of the reasons for this abnormality is the need to score political points and woo voters over from one party to another.

Because the ANC is the majority party, not just in national government but also provincially, it has been a target and opposition parties have not been short of reasons to attack the ruling party. Also, the ANC has made it easy for opposition parties to attack it as it has made some questionable decisions. A few examples would be the inclusion of liberation struggle heroine Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on its party list, the issue of the rights of South Africans abroad to vote and the party’s subsequent dragging of feet on the issue.

The latest example is the barring of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from visiting this country to attend a conference which was meant to deal with some pertinent issues affecting the people of Africa and the world.

This has raised the ire of people and institutions in many quarters, including the less politicised bloggers on the Internet. The current political climate has politicised and woken up people who used to care less about politics. This is a good thing, as our fledgling democracy could do with less political apathy.

Health Minister Barbara Hogan’s utterances against the government’s decision to reject the Dalai Lama’s visa application and her request that the government apologise to the South African public have won her a lot of support, especially on the other side of the political divide. Not so in the ruling ANC, which is the party she belongs to and the party that matters in her political career.

There is no doubt in my mind that our new colonial power (financially that is), China, is already making its presence felt by dictating to South Africa what is and is not good for us.

Out of all the excuses for the rejection of a visa application, our focus on the 2010 Soccer World Cup cannot be the best excuse members of our government have to give us. I am sure they are much better liars than that.

This is no different from what South Africa did in the past, as former president Nelson Mandela was on the United States’s terrorist list up until recently when he was removed by former American president George W. Bush.

It does not matter how right Hogan is. What matters is that she is part of a collective, which is cabinet, and decisions taken by this body are binding. She risks being shown the door. She must support cabinet or presidential decisions or she must step down before being pushed. It will be interesting if she does come back as health minister, especially as she has brought some much-needed changes to the Health Department.

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