New deal or musical chairs?

2013-02-23 16:25

My view and take on Dr Mamphela Ramphele entering the political landscape is onerous and doubtful.

Does she have the political gravitas to withstand the turbulence of our political landscape? Only time will tell.

It is my view she has a lot to withstand and navigate, from the traction she needs to get mass appeal that will make her a significant player in our political landscape, to the opposition she will have to overcome as a new player.

That she has political credibility is without doubt. She needs to capitalise on that political currency without alienating the new crowd and recruits she hopes to pull in to swell the ranks of her new party.

Her message has to be clear, direct and simple, without ambiguities, pomposity and political subtexts.

Hers is an activism anchored in Black Consciousness politics, and she will have to move beyond that to have broad appeal; it remains to be seen how far she will move towards a unifying message for her envisaged diverse constituency. Again, only time will tell.

For me, personally, it will be interesting to note her political metamorphosis, if any, given her BCM background. Others see her as part of an economic elite that is no longer concerned with, nor connected to, the agenda of the poor.

To what extent will she fit into the rigours of South Africa’s needs-driven politics, or what I regard as our disparate and cached political base?

Will hers be a balance between the generational demands and needs of the youth against the yet-to-be-fulfilled aspirations of the swelling ranks of the older generation?

What will take precedence? The immediate economic interventions and initiatives that will reap us double-digit growth in the short to medium term, which I have always believed can be achieved, or the glaring social justice demands that have yet to be satisfactorily addressed in order to have political justice and stability?

Can there be a balance struck between the two, because right now the two sides are moving in opposite directions?

To blame corruption for all our ills is taking a simplistic view void of a well thought out political strategy and engagement process. People are simply not applying their minds.

That is the problem with South African politics today, hence my question: a new deal or just musical chairs?

Whatever political programme she may choose to adopt, it has to take the aspirations of the majority into account.

Without that she will end up being another bit player in our political landscape in the long run, just like those who profit on the fears of our people and exploit their needs for sustained political currency.

One thing is for sure, her party will have to hit the ground running. It has no time to prevaricate. I hope it will become a telling player in our political landscape because we need a new deal; South Africans deserve a better deal than the present one.

At the moment we have a problematic blueprint that reinforces economic privileges for a select few at the expense of a majority that has yet to enjoy full economic justice in their lifetime.

People want the dignity of economic activity, participation and to benefit from the diverse fruits and resources that this country abundantly possesses.

Will her party stand and last the test of time? Once more, only time will tell. I will be closely watching her institutional structures and delivery mechanisms as they will indicate how effectively her party would govern, and how the party successfully navigates the balance between delivery imperatives, founded on evaluation of local needs, against the increasing agitation and restless din of the sentiments of the majority.

We welcome her active involvement in politics and are all waiting to see what value her party will bring to the lives of ordinary South Africans.

» Mbabama is a political observer, author and businessman. He writes in his personal capacity

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