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Herman Mashaba says at the end of his tenure with the DA he knew he could no longer vote for any of the existing political parties. (Jemal Countess, Getty Images)
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By the time I resigned from the DA, I had gained a very acute sense of what is wrong with our political system. So profound was this understanding, that I knew that I had no political home which I could vote for in the next elections, writes Herman Mashaba
I entered the world of politics after 35 years in business.
Amongst the many lessons I have learnt, is that our political system is broken. This is something on which most South Africans, across the great divides in our country, can agree.
When I launched The People's Dialogue, I did so to create a positive and people-centred platform to engage around the solutions to the problems we face as a people.
The response has been overwhelming. South Africans have come forward in their thousands and poured their hearts and minds into the discussion.
In the process I have learnt that South Africans are desperate for hope and keen to move away from the negativity arising from our political system and discuss solutions.
What has been underwhelming, even by the very low bar of expectations, is the response by politicians.
I have begun to see how politicians across the political spectrum have started to attack The People's Dialogue and the conversation it is generating.
The question that arises from this, is why would our political parties in South Africa want to attack a platform that is being positively engaged by thousands of our people?
The answer, in my view, lies at the heart of what is wrong with our political system.
Our current political parties are threatened by a discussion which places our people, their hopes and dreams and their solutions at the centre of a discussion of the future.
What does this say about our political system?
Our current political parties are not interested in solutions, they are not interested in our people and they are not interested in uniting our country. They operate entirely for their own self-benefit and self-aggrandisement.
In the process they have become wildly disconnected from the people they are meant to serve. This is not merely my view; it is the view of the ever-increasing millions of eligible voters (more than those who vote in the ruling party) who do not bother because our political system does not work for them.
Our political parties, across the board, have become rotten with cases of corruption and criminality.
Our parliament has become a place where debates are more about the Westminster-style comebacks and heckling from the sidelines, and the resulting cheers from your colleagues, than it is about the issues that impact our communities.
Our political parties debate matters of vital importance to South Africans while flagrantly breaching the values they profess to espouse. Look no further than the raging issue of gender-based violence in South Africa and each political party’s record on its own members transgressions on the matter.
The constant negativity that permeates our politics has become nauseating. The appalling lived experiences of the South African people have just become fodder for the political machinery. South Africans are being told what is wrong with our country and who is to blame without any focus on the solutions that are so needed.
This is why I have become fascinated by the political attacks on The People’s Dialogue. Not because it tells us anything we don’t already know about those involved. It is because it demonstrates what is wrong with our political system.
The People's Dialogue is offering everything that is missing in our political system in South Africa.
It is genuinely engaging the people of our country, and not for the sake of a cosmetic appearance of doing so.
It is focussing on the solutions we need for our country, rather than the self-serving, stating of the obvious diagnoses of our problems.
Finally, it is remaining positive in an environment where South Africans have grown weary of the constant negativity they have to endure. South Africans are good people, we want to believe in a better tomorrow and we are optimistic in the face of terrible circumstances.
It is these principles of The People's Dialogue that I commit to continue into the future.
By the time I resigned from the DA, I had gained a very acute sense of what is wrong with our political system. So profound was this understanding, that I knew that I had no political home which I could vote for in the next elections. I want to change this for me, my family and the millions of South Africans who are similarly alienated by the political system in our country.
If there is one thing that I take from the political attacks The People’s Dialogue is receiving it is this: we are doing something right.
- Mashaba is founder of The People's Dialogue, an entrepreneur and the former executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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