Personality of the day: Fred Wagner

2009-03-17 00:00

WELL known in Pietermaritzburg as chairman of the Eastwood Community Forum, Fred Wagner (48) is number four on the KZN provincial list for the South Africa Democratic Congress (Sadeco).

Sadeco was formed about a year ago after an alleged clash in leadership styles led to the expulsion of Ziba Jiyane from the National Democratic Convention, itself a breakaway from the Inkatha Freedom Party.

A committed Christian who has devoted much of his life to community work in Pietermaritzburg, Wagner says he was attracted to Sadeco primarily because of the party's Christian values. Around a picture of a dove, the party logo carries the words "Ubuntu", "Fear of God" and "Restore Family Values" as its prevailing values. Its two other values are are "liberal democracy" and a development state within a free market economy.

"What's touched me most is the party's commitment to bringing back Ubuntu, because we've lost it. And we need to bring back the fear of God. If we can restore family values, we'll have a better world because everything starts in the family. If you have no family values, you have nothing," says Wagner.

The party's support for "family-friendly housing" and its challenge to a range of social injustices are also important for Wagner, who has identified the lack of suitable housing in Pietermaritzburg as one of the city's "biggest problems".

"The party embodies all the principles we've been fighting for locally over the years, especially the fact that government houses should be bigger - 40 m2 - in order to give families four rooms, rather than two."

Wagner believes that it's not only the shortage of houses that is a problem, but the type of houses being built and this in turn has implications for families.

As the Sadeco manifesto states, the party rejects "toilet-sized houses that undermine family life and the dignity of family".

"The ruling party talks about housing for all. Since 1994, lots of houses have been built, but the population has doubled and we've got more informal settlements," says Wagner.

"In Cinderella Park, 80% of homeowners have added on their own shacks to their houses. They should have had bigger houses from the beginning."

Sadeco also promises support for a more effective criminal justice system, one that is more victim-friendly and less tolerant of criminals. "At the moment, the system is terrible," says Wagner. "The cases take too long to get to court and even though the criminal investigators work hard, once in court the cases are thrown out."

Wagner says the courts are failing women in particular.

"If a women goes to court to get an interdict against her partner or husband because of abuse, she ends up getting murdered. The system doesn't work."

Wagner says there's strong support for Sadeco, particularly from Pietermaritzburg's coloured community.

Will Sadeco getting into government make a difference? "Yes, it will give us a voice. At the moment, we are only puppies making a noise on the outside. Once on the inside, we will have more impact."

Sadeco's priorities

* Creation of more jobs;

* Support for basic income grants and volunteer programmes;

* Restoration of "God morality" (promotion of sexual abstinence and prayer in schools, opposition to abortion on demand, gay marriages, anti-family TV and domestic abuse);

* Stronger consumer and environment protection laws;

* Family-friendly housing;

* Effective criminal justice system (including a judicial inquiry into the arms deal);

* Support for democratic, constitutional values;

* Open, free market economy.

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