Personality of the day: Bantu Holomisa

2009-03-04 00:00

What do you read?

I read newspapers and I go through the UDM manifesto every day so that I have it on my fingertips. I go onto Facebook regularly. I have more than 2 500 friends, and the number grows all the time. By nature I am too lazy to read a book.

What are your eating and exercise patterns?

I don’t have time to train during this busy period before the elections, so I guard what I eat. I have played a great deal of golf over the years, but when the fracas between Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma started, I decided to stop playing golf and to start talking to people in the constituencies. I am seeing the fruit of my labours, but it means I am no longer fit. I regulate my diet by eating a lot of vegetables and water.

What is the state of the nation?

The state of the nation is worrying in the sense that the political party which is the custodian of our Constitution is at the forefront of undermining and devaluing our institutions of democracy.

We hear, on a daily basis, calls for Zuma not to have to go and stand trial. That is a bad precedent. This situation has created confusion among voters. The formation of a new political party — Cope — is commendable as it strengthens the opposition benches. This is the start of political realignment in the opposition. We should encourage this.

How would you change that state?

Firstly, we need to go back to the basics and restore discipline and order and make sure we don’t tolerate anarchy. We need to accept the concept that all are equal before the law. We need to restore the dignity of the institutions of our democracy.

Who is the UDM membership?

The last survey done showed that the UDM was 62% African, 19% white and 17% coloured. I think the voting patterns in this country along racial lines are fast diminishing. We are very strong among the poorest of the poor. We fish, more or less, from the same pond as the ANC. But you will also find us among the educated civil service, the police, the army and the middle class.

Which issues have you identified in your manifesto?

Firstly the economy. We recognise that the ANC government has done a lot to shape our economy, but the government should do more. The imbalances we had before 1994 still haunt us.

Education is in a crisis because we have allowed our education system to be modelled around certain individuals or personalities. Sibusiso Bhengu brought his own system, Kader Asmal came in and made his changes, including closing colleges of education — and now we have 90 000 vacancies in teaching. We need to reopen the colleges. On crime, we say that nine out of 10 cases of crime are linked to a lack of discipline. Policing is a science on its own, so we need highly-trained people to command the police. The UDM also calls for national greening programmes. The other area is health. We need to depoliticise issues like HIV and Aids. We must start listening to what medical practitioners recommend and take our cue from them. We would push for the introduction of a mixed electoral system. We would also push for a separate election process for the president of the country to avoid a dodgy character being forced on us as our leader.

What are the UDM’s political priorities for KZN?

Our priority is to strengthen the government of coalition. In that way, we are in a position to strengthen the democratic culture in the province. A one-party dominance is not going to help anybody.

I hope the voters in KZN spread their votes and do not put them all in one basket.

How has being a former general affected your attitude towards your work?

It helps me a great deal, because in the army, you are trained in management skills. I learnt how to plan and I learnt that if plan A doesn’t work, then you must have a plan B.

I believe the UDM has survived because of discipline. Because of our disciplined savings, we can pay for billboards and posters for our campaign. My military background works for me.

How do you rate the media’s election coverage so far?

I think it has been quite good. There has been a lot of improvement. We also need to commend the national broadcaster for doing well this time around.

Are you still in touch with Roelf Meyer (the man with whom Holomisa started the UDM)?

Yes, I know his cellphone number by heart. We meet quite often. We are on good terms. A lot of people from overseas come through me when they want to get hold of Roelf.

Visit www.udm.org.za for more information.

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