'SA needs competitive politics'

2012-11-30 10:46

Cape Town - South Africa's democratic and constitutional health relies on a more competitive political sphere, former Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said.

"When that happens, as it surely will pretty soon, then our fine constitutional prospectus will start to live and breathe again and be rescued from the torpor of one-party domination," he said in a speech prepared for delivery in Cape Town on Thursday.

The former South African ambassador to Argentina said when he led the DA between 1999 and 2007, the opposition was going up against staunch ANC history, as a party that held all the moral and political high ground.

At that time, he said the African National Congress presented a formidable, often frightening, unity in the face of any opposition, whether external or internal.

"Today, the opposite is true: The opposition has the wind behind its back and the ANC juggernaut is showing signs of decay and sclerosis - the symptoms of a house divided whose inevitable right to rule is now under both question and strain."

Leon said a decade ago he had warned against certain "ANC-sponsored" concepts and practices such as the national democratic revolution, cadre deployment and black economic empowerment.

His pronouncements led to him being called anti-transformational, the voice of white privilege and the fight-back king.

"Now, an entire chorus, including some significant black intellectuals, media editors and trade unionists, are singing from the same hymn sheet, often in far more strident and less polite notes than any I had sounded from my perch as leader of the opposition."

Doom and gloom stories

Leon reflected on his three-year stint in the embassy, saying he would scour the internet daily for news from his homeland.

He said that despite reading numerous doom-and-gloom stories, there were signs of advancement through the harshest of "political winters".

An example was the continued tenacity of the judiciary to find against the government in significant judgments, despite being assaulted and questioned from various angles.

"I do not believe, incidentally, that South Africa is about to fall off the cliff and plunge into a failed state scenario," Leon said.

There were too many institutions and feedback mechanisms for the country to follow the same path as Zimbabwe.

However, it was not enough for the country to muddle along in the hope it would get back on the path set out in 1994.

"Our task as citizens is to engage with the complexity and interdict our weaknesses. As simple, and as complicated, as that."

  • kala.bafazi - 2012-11-30 10:59

    I seriously doubt that you can confortably call us a democratic country anymore. Even when the anc vote someone out of power they feel that they have been wronged in some way. Take a look at the going ons in Potchefstroom.

      John - 2012-11-30 12:40

      We're fully a socialist state.

  • hendriek.woede - 2012-11-30 11:01

    Talking sense Tony - you were always politically matured.

  • donald.perumal - 2012-11-30 11:04

    @Tony Leon "saying he would scour the internet daily for news from his homeland." A reality that most of us experience but I agree with you that we need to grapple with the "complexity" of our political degenaration.One cannot bank on the DA as they are not dealing with the complexity of SA'n politics and life adequately.There needs to be a new player-one with the "balls" to tackle this complexity!

      tcCarla - 2012-11-30 11:39

      I fully agree with you, SA needs a new party, with no ties to history, a party where all races feel welcome and represented. We should learn from history not get stuck in it

  • kingsley.mgidi - 2012-11-30 11:30

    i salute you tony leon...serious, some people don't have a leading skill! South africa is falling apart!

  • nomcebo.k.kubheka.3 - 2012-11-30 11:33

    Have you been to the courts lately, I was really disappointed at the level of incompetency of one of the judges in Petoria. The Parliament is even worse; it’s sad what our country is becoming! But then again what should we expect when our leader himself is so disappointing!

  • JimFPowell - 2012-11-30 11:50

    THE NEXT STEP TO FREEDOM. Never again vote for a 5 year dictator Our current political system in South Africa is better than pre 1994 but worse than others in its content and application. We now have a constitution. The biggest failing in the system is a lack of accountability. The primary allegiance the proportional representatives have is to their own political party. The 50% of the local government councillors that have a constituency can at least be identified by the electorate but still are not accountable. Our system is a 5 year dictatorship We, the voters, are the shareholders of the South African government and employers of our politicians. We choose the politicians who are employed and pay their salaries. We must be able to directly control the politicians. An interesting statistic is that 97% the laws of the world’s best-known form of direct democracy, Switzerland, are passed without voter intervention. The threat of voter intervention means the laws are passed with the electorate in mind. South African elections are coming in 2014 and you can start making a difference starting now by: 1. Adopting a politician, preferably one at each level of government and they do not have to be in the same party 2. Mentor them on direct democracy 3. Let them know that you will not vote for them or their party if they do not commit for changes to bring about Direct Democracy 4. Present a below for each politician and political party to sign See

  • dinesh.chetty.77 - 2012-11-30 13:04

    SA needs socialist state with all national key resources nationalised in the hands of the people. This is the only way for the poor. The alternative is to keep democracy, which is the only way for the rich.

      pillowcasephelo - 2013-01-24 09:00

      Thats one of the dumbest comments i have read in my life. Where did you learn your economics. Greece perhaps....

  • charmaine.byron - 2012-11-30 13:14

    agree wholeheartedly!! But we also need to stop diluting the vote and do away with the minority parties!

  • Clemens Gratia - 2015-05-10 12:15

    Great words. Hopefully the final political choice in South Africa will be non-racial social democracy (which the ANC claims to champion, but rather does proportional representation multi-racialism) vs non-racial liberal capitalism (which the DA claims to stand for). All the best in the DA's entrance into Phase 4 of its growth. Phase 1 was consolidation of the liberal minority parties under Collin Eglin into the DP. Done. Phase 2 was bringing in NP parties into the DP to form the DA under Tony Leon. Done. Phase was bringing in the other minority groups, solidifying control of the WC, kicking of the drive to bring the so-called black vote and showing that the DA can do "transformation" under Hellen Zille. Done. Phase 4 get up to about 40% (50-55% ANC) of the national vote under Maimane. It will light a fire under the ANC to either shape up to fix the current socio-economic problems or ship out.

  • pages:
  • 1