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Governance Sans Politics

29 December 2013, 17:07

It's a fact that our political system and our government is a mess - almost everybody can agree on that. We sometimes get overwhelmed by the utter dishonesty and incompetence of our public officials and leaders. We become disillusioned and make plans about leaving to Australia.

That's sad enough, but the worst decision that is made is when people decide to keep voting for the same people because they can't see an alternative, or to not vote at all.

Therefore, I want to make a somewhat naive proposal that every now and then we debate governance and policy without taking politics and all the jokers into account - pretend we are living in an ideal country and only dream about the people we trust and would like to see in power, ignoring the nightmares. I'm not proposing we completely ignore everything and stop complaining (heavens no!).

There are two main reasons, though, that I think we need to focus a little more on the good and debate that instead.

The first is that perpetual complaining is not really helping us unless we can offer alternatives. That's one of the chief complaints of ANC voters (although very often it's a dishonest excuse for being close-minded): we complain but we don't offer alternatives and they can't see people realistically replacing the ANC. I doubt that's true, but I still think that few of us actually know what we're asking for. We can't kick the ANC out unless we have a decent plan of what kind of people we want to put in their place. Who would you want to be President and why?

What kind of people would Agang put into power with twenty percent of the vote if they had it? If we can slowly begin to dream about a world outside and beyond the ANC, well maybe it will convince a few people that this isn't just empty whining - we have a legitimate plan.

We need to start talking about the Madonsela's and the Terrence Nombembe's and Trevor Manuels instead of always going on about the Zuma's and Malema's. I think if we can shift the public perception of 'leaders' to these kinds of people, even within the ANC, then people will finally treat the others like the joke they are.

We already saw it at the Memorial for Madiba, where Zuma was booed because people finally saw him standing there in the light of great leaders and names like Mandela, de Klerk, Mbeki and the old leaders of the ANC. There's a saying that goes something like: don't give the devil too much credit.

The second reason is that as much as we opposition supporters feel so educated and intelligent because we're enlightened enough to see the rot in the ANC, we very often stand on shaky ground with respect to our own parties. Because our politics is so racial, 'revolutionary' and scandal driven, we've lost track of actual policies and plans. It's like the smart child in class who has been dumbed down. How many DA supporters can say that they support the DA because of their economic policies, and proceed to explain those policies? Or is it just because they are the anti-ANC and seemingly less corrupt?

I was hoping that with the arrival of Agang, that the negative effect of a somewhat split opposition would be counteracted by renewed and refreshed debate. I was hoping to now see people on this forum posting about why they think Zille's approach to a certain problem would be better than Ramphele's and then debate fiercely with statistics, numbers and logic.

Opposition politics and the political knowledge of the voter has suffered heavily because we've been too focused on pointing out obvious problems. We've forgotten that the DA could genuinely be wrong on a certain course of action - not because I'm a die-hard ANC supporter or because they are a 'white party' - but because the numbers say so.

I genuinely believe that if we can envision a country beyond the current rot of leadership the ANC has given us (without discounting the good people in the ANC) and if we can focus on debating actual issues with suggestions from sensible leaders using numbers and fact, that our democracy will only work out for the better. At any rate it's better than posting long, rambling essays rife with puns about the cANCer as if that's how we'll make a difference. Forward, in spite of these idiots, let's move forward.

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