I think when we look back in history; this convention could be a turning point in our democracy.
I had the great honour to have been at Codesa 15 years ago, and it is an honour for me to be here today.
At Codesa our job was to negotiate a new Constitution, which guaranteed the liberties of all our people. From the moment that Constitution was adopted, our job was to defend it.
This is why we are here today. To defend our Constitution from power abuse, and to ensure that the rights enshrined in that document, become a living breathing reality for all South Africans.
When Mhlekazi Lekota first announced this convention, he said its purpose was to discuss some very important challenges we face:
- Protecting the Constitution
- Defending the rule of law and equality before the law
- Fighting corruption and taking a stand against those who seek power for personal enrichment
- Building national, humane and moral values
- Promoting independent civil society, and
- Directly electing key leaders in our society, such as the President, Premiers and Mayors.
My party, the Democratic Alliance, has been at the forefront of this debate - not just for the past 15 years - but for decades. That is why it is the logical and right thing for us to be here today, to be part of this discussion.
It is encouraging that more and more of us are talking about these issues, seeing the threat to the Constitution, standing up against power abuse and saying: "Tot hier toe en nie verder nie. Genoeg is genoeg!"
In many ways, the politics of the past is outdated. It is very sad that we are still trapped in the rhetoric of race. We must move beyond this.
We must look more deeply at people than the colour of their skin.
We must look at each others' values and principles. We must look at the things that bring people together, not those that divide them.
We have been doing this in the multi-party government in Cape Town where we have a successful coalition of six parties, bringing hope and bringing change for all the people of that city, not just for some.
That is the pattern of the future. Coalitions based on principles and values can work. They build bridges. They take us into the future. They do not keep us trapped in the past. And they can work for everyone.
That is where we are going into the future. Ikamva esi zandleni zethu.
More and more, politics is becoming a clear choice between two clear alternatives:
- The open, fair and just society that gives opportunity to everyone; or
- The closed, boetie-boetie society where the small group in power abuses its power to create favours and advantages for a few
We are here today to promote the open, opportunity driven society for all.
We hope this convention will prove to be an important step on this road.
Issued by the Democratic Alliance November 1 2008
Photo by David Ansara.