United we stand

2008-07-03 00:00

In my long experience, there is nothing that turns off voters more decisively than squabbling, bickering and downright back-stabbing between the various opposition political parties, whose collective aim should rather be to weaken the stranglehold held by the dominant party and at the same time espouse policies which will help uplift the poor in our country and build a stronger democracy in the process.

Equally, voters are switched off in droves because they feel marginalised and ignored while the ubiquitous ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance appears to be at war with itself, countenancing corruption and allowing the continuance of the Mcebisi Skwatcha-Ebrahim Rasool sniping, political purges, unruliness, abuse, violence and crudity at its general meetings, as well as the anti-constitutional statements about killing and dying for Jacob Zuma by its youth leaders and even by those who are senior and who should know better.

An error which would do the cause of opposition voters real harm is the formation of yet another splinter party based on ethnic considerations. The newly mooted bruin belange inisiatief (coloured interests initiative) is a case in point. However well meaning, such an initiative will not aid the opposition to ANC hegemony, but will, on the contrary, further divide the forces of opposition and weaken the effort to limit their centralised power, while at the same time taking its followers beyond the mainstream of South African politics and dumping them into the faint margins on the edge of the political page.

Coloured South Africans should be part of our country’s mainstream and not a fenced-off minority group on the fringes. With Xolela Mangcu I believe that “we do not need a race-based leadership if we profess to live in a non-racial society”. As he further put it: “I believe that race, culture and tradition matter. The challenge is to acknowledge, respect and celebrate difference.”

We are after all, first and foremost, South African citizens, not just blacks, whites, coloureds and Asians.

And in an already crowded political arena, within the opposition parties there currently exist and operate more than one political party whose ranks include black, coloured, Asian and white South Africans. The initiators of the “brown initiative” should think twice before doing damage to those who are really their allies.

In my view, the only answer, if people wish to curb the massive power of the ANC, really target corruption and crime, deal more effectively with HIV/Aids, cut through the red tape and build more houses, force the SABC into political neutrality and get more people back into an active and growing workforce, is to support both actively and by voting for what I call a “national coalition of parties”, who before the coming election, negotiate and enter into an agreement of co-operation, an agreement of non-aggression be-tween themselves and an agreement to confer on policy issues and on matters of importance as they arise.

Such an agreement is already in place between the DA led by Helen Zille, and the ID led by Paricia de Lille. It works and the management of the city of Cape Town is the better for it, as both parties co-operate with each other and other allies in municipal government, and not just in Cape Town.

This sort of agreement should, without too much difficulty, be extended nationwide, to the benefit of not just the parties involved, but also for the welfare of the provinces, our country and all its people. Such a coalition would truly be a “rainbow” coalition open to all South Africans of good will.

Such a national coalition could yet lead South Africa to greater things.

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