Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ode to a revolution

.

'Homage to Catalonia'
By George Orwell

1938

George Orwell’s memoir of his time fighting Fascism in the Spanish Civil War is one of the definitive accounts of the conflict and the best of the author’s non-fiction writing.

Orwell arrived in Barcelona in December 1936 initially with the intention of being a war correspondent, but soon enlisted with the POUM militia, a Socialist ally of the Republican government “because”, he explained “at that time and in that atmosphere it seemed like the only conceivable thing to do.”

The Catalan city was seething with revolutionary fervour, with newly collectivized workshops and stores, and unionist control over every aspect of life. Orwell depicts these early glimmers of egalitarianism through the visual space of the streets:

“Practically every building of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags or with the red and black flag of the Anarchists; every wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties; almost every church had been gutted and its images burnt….

“Every shop and café had an inscription saying it had been collectivised… Waiters looked you in the face and treated you as an equal. Servile and even ceremonial forms of speech had temporarily disappeared. Nobody said ‘Señor’ or ‘Don’ or even ‘Usted’; everyone called everyone else ‘Comrade’ and ‘Thou’ and said ‘Salud!’ instead of ‘Buenos dias’.”

After some haphazard training Orwell was shipped off to the front. Compared to the Fascists, the cold and deprivation were more persistent enemies. He describes night-time sorties into no-man’s-land to scratch potatoes out of the dirt and risking snipers and mortars in order to gather a few splinters of firewood to keep warm.

Confined to trenches, poorly equipped and thrifty with ammunition, actual contact with Fascist troops was minimal. “This wasn’t a war, it was a bloody pantomime,” his British friends used to joke.

More common was the endless drift and boredom of guard duty and the occasional stray bullet. One of those bullets caught Orwell in the neck, partially destroying his vocal cords and narrowly missing his arteries. He candidly describes this as “an interesting experience”.

Those resisting Franco were by no means monolithic. A mixture of Anarchists, Stalinist Communists, small decentralized union collectives and an array of foreign militias all competed for influence. Propaganda campaigns were waged between the rival groups amidst suspicion of espionage and agents provocateur.



A deep ambivalence soon overtook Orwell’s romantic enthusiasm for the revolution as he witnessed factionalism deteriorate into outright violence. While he was convalescing in Barcelona, battle-fatigued and demoralised, the POUM was denounced as ‘Trotskist’ and in the pay of the Fascists and banned (both accusations were untrue). Orwell was now forced to fend for his life, sleeping in the streets as his fellow soldiers were imprisoned and killed by their former comrades.

In the morning Orwell would visit the barber shops and ‘shoe-blacks’, to clean himself up and spend the day masquerading as a bourgeois tourist. “It was queer how everything had changed.” he said. “Only six months ago, when the Anarchists still reigned, it was looking like a proletarian that made you respectable.” Finally he fled the revolution which he had come to defend - ossified and bureaucratised out of existence. As history would show, the Fascists eventually won.

Orwell was a man who not only displayed intellectual finesse, but who also made great sacrifices for his ideas. Yet, in spite of all he gave up in pursuit of a cause, he was forthright enough to see through - and speak up against - its dogma.

George Orwell was an idealist, but he also recognised the inevitability of power and how it could crush human freedom beneath the weight of ideology. Homage to Catalonia displays the judicious use of language and the insistence on simplicity and honesty that has helped Orwell's work to endure for so long.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mamphela Ramphele Interview: GIBS Forecast 2009

Activist, academic and businesswoman, Mampela Ramphele speaks to David Ansara at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). The occasion is the annual 'Forecast' debate, looking to the year ahead in anticipation of what awaits South Africa in the near future.





DA
: Okay, we’re walking here with Dr Mamphela Ramphele and she has just given her presentation from the Forecast 2009. Dr. Ramphele, what were some of your impressions from tonight?

[Interruption]

DA: If you could just tell us about what you think of this kind of culture of shared commonalities and values. How do you think South Africans should try and strive towards a kind of more shared national identity?

MR: I believe that this country is sitting on a huge potential to be great in the true sense of the word ‘greatness’. And that greatness is not going to come from us trying to be like any other country because we are an African country that has got particular endowments that are different from the rest of the continent. We have a super-modern economy, we’ve got huge potential to grow from a diversity of cultures that no other African country has and also the connectedness to the global environment.

Yet, we are not competitive, in part because we have failed to rise to our opportunities. In dealing with our challenges we have tended to shoot ourselves in the foot. So lets take the example of the inheritance of Mandela, the international icon. And with that as your asset base you should be absolutely soaring into the sky.

DA: Do you think we have squandered our moral capital?

MR: I don’t think we have squandered it; we have just not yet leveraged it. Because it’s there, it’s like a heritage, you know, unless it’s money. But it’s there and if you return to it you can actually build on it. And I believe that we can build on that heritage to say as an African country with these particular endowments, a third of the GDP of Africa, what can we do that will make us as a country better, the continent better? And I think our greatest asset are our people. People who need to be highly educated, highly skilled and appreciative of diversity as a strength and not a weakness.

DD: So the coming elections next year, do you see that people are going to participate in the creation of a more public and open space or are there some worrying signs of political intolerance? Do you think those are overstated perhaps?

MR: I think it all depends on you and I as citizens. If you and I give the message to every politician that comes knocking at our door or our street or our village or our town to say what are your values? What are you offering to address the challenges that we face? What is your vision? How is that vision married to our founding document and its values? If you can’t answer those questions you don’t get my vote. So our vote as ordinary citizens is the biggest asset base that we’ve got. If we use it properly, just like you use your shares in a company to go the company meeting and say I will not have this CEO continuing because he or she has messed up. We in South Africa have in a sense devalued our citizenship which many people died for us to be able to vote – and lets honour that.

DA: Thank you very much.

MR: Thank you. Bye.

DA: Bye-bye.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Dennis Davis Interview: Forecast 2009

Cape High Court Judge Dennis Davis speaks to David Ansara after moderating a debate at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). He discusses some of the challenges - and opportunities - facing South Africa in a turbulent and changing world. For a full account of the night's proceedings see here.





DD:
Well I think this evening is just a wonderful illustration of the possibility for debate in South Africa because you had people from slightly different viewpoints very seriously talking about what is going to be happening in 2009 both economically and politically and the challenges are immense. Also you find 250 people here listening intently for close on two hours which indicates that what's wrong in this country is not having enough fora like this in public space, that's the problem.

DA: A wonderful forum indeed. One of the things that I liked about your closing is you were talking about this dialectic between strengths and opportunities in 2009. Could you elaborate?

DD: Oh, sure. The truth is economically the world has got to the point where the old model of capitalism has gone. No doubt about that. So the opportunities – that creates the crisis, that's the threat – what's the opportunity? Can we actually start carving out some form of global governance and economic response that will get us out of the mess and because it will get us out of the mess, I believe may get us to a very much more egalitarian vision of the world than the one that we've suffered under for the last twenty years. That's the crucial area.

No doubt about it, we are moving from an era of what they call Adam Smithsonian globalization to some form of Keyensian globalization. How that works, I dunno, but that's what's going to happen.

And politically in South Africa we don't know what's going to happen, but sure as hell we know one thing is that there is now far more contestation of political space in South Africa than in the past fourteen years. So people are going to have to win power from more what they do, it seems to me, rather than simply the pedigree that they have.

DA: And economically the way that South Africa has responded to outside forces in the past, there was a suggestion that we always muddle through. How do you think the country and its leadership can reclaim that agency on the international stage?

DD: Well, they've done quite well. I mean, I don't think we've done badly, but the fact that we are growing and we're going to grow at over three percent this year is extraordinary. And the fact that we will grow next year is not bad.

It's not that we've done badly, it's that we could do better, we have to do better. So the claim on the international stage is much more of a political claim rather than an economic claim. I suspect that we have far more credibility in the way that we've managed our economy than, say, the way we've managed Zimbabwe, if I could put it that way. But the real question for the economy is how do we in fact go up a gear, how do we actually (that's an unfortunate term), how do we go up another notch by having created the stability and now start in a sense addressing those key issues of education, health, et cetera.

That's the challenge for another government, that's the challenge for economic policy is how do you do that? You can't say that the government hasn't got a major role – it has, and it's failed. So the real issue is to puzzle out how you get better delivery in an increasingly fraught economic system. Now if we can do that then in fact we do become in a sense a model for the rest of the world.

DA: In many ways some of the failure, and you alluded to it in your moderation of the debate, of South Africa has been in the implementation of policy and not so much in the envisioning of policy. So this new Keynesian world that you talk about, is this going to be big states…?

DD: No, no, no-no, it means much more a question of what kind of global governance will take place. How do we deal with the environment globally? How do we deal with an international financial system which at this particular point in time has been unregulated and can no longer be so? Remember somebody said here this evening, for the first time in God knows how long, we've got nationalized banks, and no other banks. So clearly that notion of regulation and accountability to the public domain is going to be far more an issue in the 21st Century going forward than it has been up until now.

DA: But maybe in South Africa is that more…that that higher level of regulation and involvement, isn't that going to contribute towards what Raenette Taljaard was talking about, of this blurring of party and state?

DD: No, neah, that is always a danger, you know, one doesn't know, but I'm saying that – well, that's the challenge of course can we move into a situation whereby it's not about ethnicity, it's about views and values and whether poor people, whether you want one form of policy or another. That's a difficult question, and of course there's always danger. I don't however see, it all depends, it's possible that it could all go down an ethnic toilet, it's possible. But I don't see that necessarily happening. I think that we forget about the fact that the constitution is what people are campaigning about. They're not campaigning about ethnicity, what's significant is what they're really campaigning about is who owns the constitution, who owns the freedom charter? And that's good, because we're actually moving slowly towards a value-orientated debate.

DA: Just wearing your legal hat for a while, if you were a panelist here today, you would have been called upon to speak about the state of the judiciary and the rule of law, the independence of the courts…

DD: Well I think, how well have we done? Quite well, better than I think you think. Look, of course there are problems and I'm not going to deny that, but the fact of the matter is that by and large the fact that people are actually campaigning for a constitution, saying "we are the people who are the custodians of the constitution". There have been a lot of threats, but everybody recognizes the work of the constitutional court and the notion of an independent judiciary. Compared to where we've come from, remember where we've come from. We came from a society where the rule of law was in fact applied in the abuse rather than in the use. That is the important point. Okay…

DA: Thank you Dennis Davis, thanks very much.

DD: Take care.

DA: Bye!

-

Photo by David Ansara

Thursday, November 20, 2008

GIBS Forecast 2009: Feedback

Last night (Wed, 20 November, 2008) my father and I attended a fascinating debate hosted by the Gordon Institute of Business Science. GIBS has presented a number of fora this year which I have blogged about in my feedback articles, including:


Last night was a GIBS signature event, Forecast 2009, which is an annual debate about what the new year will bring. It attempts to read the tea leaves of business, politics and the global dynamics that will affect our country in the near future.

The debate was chaired by Cape High Court Judge Dennis Davis and the panelists included:
  1. Azar Jammine - Chief Economist at Econometrix
  2. Mduduzi Mbada - Special advisor to the Premier of Gauteng
  3. Raenette Taljaard - Director of the Helen Suzman Foundation
  4. Mamphela Ramphele - Anthropologist, medical doctor and businesswoman
  5. Gill Marcus - Non-executive chairperson of the ABSA group

***

Azar Jammine and Mdudzi Mbada

1.) Azar Jammine was guardedly optimistic about the economic outlook for next year. He cited the weekend's G20 meeting which signaled a positive sense of inclusiveness for developing nations. Jammine noted that many were disappointed with the summit and the lack of concrete outcomes at the end of it. "But," he remarked dryly, "how do you solve 25 years of excess over a weekend?". He also noted that we are not going to see practical measures until the latter part of next year.

Jammine was confident that SA was going to "weather the current downturn possibly a little better than other countries." He cited the upcoming 2010 World Cup as evidence of this.

He also noted that consumers were going to get a break from all of the pressures of hyper-growth such as excessive fuel prices and strains on public infrastructure. Good news is that the cost of petrol is likely to come down by around R1.50 next month, he said.

Jammine ended by reminding the audience that "It doesn't mean we are going to have a boom year, but we can prevent ourselves from falling into full-scale recession."

The Econometrix director gave an articulate presentation, but I felt that he understated the threats that are looming for SA on the economic front. Needless cynicism should be avoided, but I don't know if the breezy optimism of Dr. Jammine's is appropriate either considering the right mess that the world's financial markets are in at the moment.

***

2.) Mdudzi Mbada filled in for his boss, the newly installed Premier of Gauteng, Paul Mashatile, who was attending an imbizo. I thought Mbada gave a modest performance, but perhaps I am being unkind because the quality of the panel was very high indeed.

Mbada cited several of the major projects that the Gauteng provincial government is involved in including infrastructure improvements in Soweto, sustaining the current trajectory of the World Cup planning and tackling unemployment. He talked about the need to "involve stakeholders" and to create "labour-absorbing" projects and to "respond holistically to crime". He even boasted of the stability in the provincial government, which I found interesting considering that the previous Premier recently felt compelled to step down!

This was official-speak of the dullest kind and it was concerning to see the lack of engagement with ideas or a willingness to recognise many of the grave social ills facing our province. Unfortunately, Mbada was stuck in a very narrow development paradigm, one that favours checking off the bullet points rather than articulating what policy will mean for people in real terms.

***

Raenette Taljaard

3.) Raenette Taljaard spoke next, and began by focusing on how our political lexicon has exploded over the last two years. New terms such as 'Pre-Polokwane,' 'Post-Polokwane', 'Pre-Recall' [of the President], 'Post-Recall', 'Pre-Cope' (and maybe next year, 'post-Cope'?) have all become common-place.

Taljaard also talked about the numerous shifts and changes of parties repositioning themselves and the new entry of Cope throwing things wide open. Referring to the SA National Convention, and specifically the "substantive re-launch of the Democratic Alliance" she said that "the proof of the pudding will be in the eating when we see the electoral lists".

She also noted the incredible spill-over of the Obama effect and how it has energised particularly young people to register to vote in upcoming elections in various parts of the world, and most notably at home.

For me, Taljaard's most revealing comment was that a generation of so-called "born-frees" will be voting for the first time in this election and that they will be "a new market with shifting loyalties and allegiances." She also cited recent surveys that are indicating the growing number of independent voters whose ballots will be up for grabs in 2009.

The biggest thing to watch out for, she said, was the very real possibility of coalition governments in at least four or five provinces in South Africa next year. This could really shake things up, especially considering the fact that provinces are allowed to draw up their own basic constitutions, which I didn't know.

She closed by saying that it will be of interest to see whether or not the blurring of party and state that we have witnessed in the recent past will be deepened by the new electoral threats or if it will recede. It could go either way was her summation.

***

4.) Mamphela Ramphele stole the show with her irreverent style and thoughtful comments. She spoke about Polokwane (her home town) as "the beginning of us aspiring to democracy. People were hoping for a split in the alliance, but it has gone the other way and is no longer ideological."

"The split has also ushered in the notion of legitimate opposition whereas before you could just be dismissed as DA. Now part of the family has moved into the illegitimate space."

"Whenever they are called, the coming elections will be like no other in the history of SA. Not just post-1994, but our entire history. This is a big plus, and we should really congratulate ourselves."

"But... but we have huge ghosts that are haunting every one of the political parties. We are all spooked about talking about race and class and gender. They are really frightening goggas! The dream is not deferred as Mark Gevisser says, but it is spooked by ghosts."

Dr. Ramphele also hoped for a more politically mature 2009, saying that she was sick of the paternalistic approach that many of our politicians take towards the polity. Rather, leaders are servants on behalf of the rest of us and real leadership should start with you and I. We must recognise that we have developed some very bad habits since 1994 and we have rested on our laurels. We must ask ourselves why we have allowed the active demobilization of civil society to happen. The private sector too has failed as a sector to uphold its responsibility. She observed that "No democracy in the world functions without a vigorous citizenry."

***


Dennis Davis, Mamphela Ramphele and Gill Marcus

5.) Gill Marcus offered a more sober view than some of the other panelists about the future prospects of South Africa saying that "we can have the best of intentions for 2009, but we are underestimating the gravity of the situation."

She noted that Europe and America are on the cusp of a major recession and that there are predictions of a negative growth rate of 4% in two quarters next year. In America they are looking at 1 in 10 home-owners having foreclosures on their houses.

If you look at certain East European states we are talking about country failures here, not just banks. The IMF simply doesn't have enough money to rectify the situation.

There are also major questions about global food capacity. For instance, Marcus noted that South Korea has just taken a lease on tens of thousands of hectares of land in Madagascar for agricultural cultivation. That is the cost they are prepared to pay to meet their food needs.

Add to this the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which suck up major human and financial resources and you have a pretty volatile world.

To think that this will not affect us is naive at best. "My argument is not pessimistic." she said "It's about recognising the problems and responding to them positively."

***

Overall, the level of debate was rigorous and many people came away with plenty of questions about our future - as well as some glimmers of answers. A big thank you to Nick Binedell and his team at GIBS for helping us to make sense of 2008 as it unfolded - what a year it was. Many things are uncertain in 2009, but what we can expect is the same level of contribution to our public life from this institution.

-

Photos by David Ansara


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Interview with Helen Zille at the re-launch of the DA

Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance, speaks to QPQ at the party's re-launch. She argues that from now on the DA will be concerned with governance, no longer confined to merely an opposition role. Bold promises, but can she deliver? David Ansara attempts to find out.




DA: This is David Ansara for Quid Pro Quo. We’re here with Helen Zille, two weeks after the South African National Convention when we spoke to her last. So tell us Helen, what is the significance of today? Explain this re-launch of the Democratic Alliance to us.

HZ: Today, the significance of our re-launch is to say the DA is a party of government. We’re not only a party of opposition, we’re a party that can be in government, has the best policies in government [that offers leadership] for all of the people, not just some of the people.

Our core values remain the same, freedom within the Constitution, equality of opportunity, responsibility; all of those are core values. We are committed to diversity and we’re committed to reflecting that diversity much more in the future. We want to convince every South African, and give them comfort that we will continue to stand up for everybody’s rights, their language rights, their cultural rights, their heritage, so that they can feel strong in the knowledge that they alone don’t have to fight their corner, and that everyone else stands with them and so that we stand up for each other. That’s the significance of what we are doing today.

DA: When the Democratic Alliance announced that this re-launch was going to be happening in your press release earlier in the week, you were quite frank about some of the limitations and some of the problems that you have experienced in attracting all South Africans to the party. What exactly is the DA going to be doing to try and attract South Africans from across the racial and class spectrum?

HZ: We are going to be the party that we claimed to be. We are going to reflect those values, we are going to show every body that merit means diversity, that diversity is part of merit, that we enrich each other, that we advance each other, that we defend each other and that we debate with each other and differ from each other within the constitution [and] the law. That is what we signify and no minority needs to stand up in a corner and feel threatened and marginalized because we will defend everybody’s rights together for each other, with each other.

DA: I was quite struck by the video presentation. One of the things that stood out for me is this nostalgia for the previous decade, for the heady days of the 1990s. How do you think we have lost sight of some that vision from that period? What’s gone wrong and how can we reclaim those dreams that you talk about?

HZ: What went wrong was that the ANC became a racial nationalist party. They started becoming a party for a few and not for many. They started a deployment policy that made people’s chances dependent on their links with powerful people in government. People couldn’t use their opportunities because their opportunities didn’t make a difference. It was who you knew, not what you could do. And that is the most fundamental problem. The ANC became a closed, patronage-driven organization for some with political connections. And that’s why today we are reviving the dream of the open, opportunity driven society for all. That is the South African dream.

DA: I’m looking at this brand new logo. Talk us through it. What’s the symbolism behind it, the colours?

HZ: Well, the symbolism is actually very simple. We wanted to have something that looked like a new dawn. So we wanted a morning sun and we have the morning sun rising over the rainbow. A feel-good logo.

DA: Call me cynical, but it reminds me quite a lot of the Obama logo, the sun rising, the rainbow. Is there an intended parallel there?

HZ: Well, there was no intended parallel, when I found out I was delighted by the coincidence because in fact somebody said to me after we had already worked on the logo and agreed on the logo “My goodness, it looks quite a lot like the Obama logo.” So I went onto the internet and looked at the Obama logo and I was very pleased that there was enough of a difference. His is red and blue and has completely different kinds of symbolism, ours is the morning sun over the rainbow.

DA: So how did you try and change it from the last logo, what was wrong with it?

HZ: There was nothing wrong per se with the last logo, it was just becoming stale, a little bit old and it had been put together by two officials in half an hour chatting together about whatever they wanted to see. Here we had some serious advice by people who know how to do these things; we had the idea and they did the concept for us.

DA: The last time I spoke to you, Ms. Zille, was at the South African National Convention.

HZ: Yes.

DA: And a lot of people are saying that this is an attempt by the DA to remind the electorate that they are still around after the new party has emerged on the scene. What would you say to that?

HZ: The coincidence of the Congress of the People was exactly that: just a coincidence. This event today was based on nine months of research, of planning, of sifting through that research material, of understanding what the voters are saying, how we mesh that with our animating values, our principles and our policies. And this was on the cards all of the time. It was quite unexpected that there would be a breakaway from the ANC before the election. We were going to do this at this time in our election planning and in our re-visioning of the party as a whole.

DA: I just have one question. You spoke about the benefit of a market-driven economy. And given the current crisis in the global financial scene, is the market still something that you feel is the engine-room of an economy or is the more developmental statist approach beginning to gather more credence?

HZ: If you look at my speech you will see that I say “an economy driven by the market, appropriately regulated.”

DA: Yes.

HZ: There are rules and checks and balances for every sector of society. If politicians can abuse their power, so can bankers, so can the market. We believe in rules for everybody and we believe in appropriate regulations. We believe that the state does have a role in the economy and in the real developmental state, which was pioneered in Japan, the state had a key role. They had the best people in the state, with the brightest minds, who made it easier for economic growth to happen through the market – and that’s the ideal.

So it’s not the incompetent state, meddling in the market and trying to pick winners. That was a perversion of the concept. So yes we do believe in the market, we believe it is the only mechanism that can generate sustainable growth, but we don’t believe that bankers or financial institutions should be above the rules or the law. That is why we supported the Credit Act in South Africa, which made it impossible for banks to lend money to people who could not afford to repay those loans - unlike in America. We fully supported that regulation because we felt it was appropriate.

DA: Alright, Ms. Zille, thank you very much for speaking with Quid Pro Quo.

HZ: It’s always a great pleasure. Thank you.

-

Photo by Jared Jeffrey.

Helen Zille relaunches the DA - full speech

.


I attended the re-launch of the Democratic Alliance yesterday (Sat, 15 November, 2008) at Constitution Hill. Helen Zille, the party leader, revealed the new logo and slogan and set about repositioning the strategic direction for the organisation. I have reproduced the speech below:

What we have unveiled here today is not just a new logo, a different look. This is not a marketing exercise. It's much, much more than that. It's our promise - a promise that we will deliver on the South African dream for the rainbow people.

We signal here today a new approach - to South Africa, to the voters, to the future. There will be a new offer; a new style of campaigning; a new determination to address the injustices and transcend the racial divisions of our country's past.

We share a dream for South Africa with millions of people who do not yet identify with the DA, and millions more who do. Our mission, going forward, is to turn that dream into a reality.

We saw last week how in the United States of America, Barack Obama made history by overcoming history. He convinced people that they could. And so can we.

We can overcome our past; we can turn South Africa into a safe, prosperous, free society in which everyone has a fair shot at achieving their dreams, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth.

But as we move forward, we will not cut ourselves adrift from our animating values or our vision for South Africa. On the contrary, our core beliefs and the success we have enjoyed to date, are the foundation for our regeneration and renewal.

And so I want to spell out very clearly what stays the same, and what will change.

What stays the same is our vision of an open opportunity society for all, founded on the bedrock of our core values.

We have always cherished the rights and freedoms of every person, enshrined in a Constitution. We still do.

We have always stood for equal and ever-expanding opportunity. Not for some, but for all. We still do.

We have always believed in the dignity and equality of each and every person, and promoted the language, culture and heritage of all the rainbow people. We still do.

We have always fought for the security of the children, women and men of our country, who deserve to live without fear of criminals. We still do.

We have always been committed to clean government, and exposing corruption wherever it is found. We still are.

We have always believed in an economy driven by the market, appropriately regulated, focused on creating jobs, and a welfare safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves. We still do.

We have always championed tolerance, excellence and personal responsibility. They are core values.

We champion them still.

That's what stays the same.

Now here's what's new.

The DA is a party of government.

Let me say that again: Ons is ‘n party van regering; Siza kuba ngumbutho olawulayo kuRhulumente.


"Viva DA, viva! Viva, Helen Zille, viva!"


We are in government in Cape Town and in many other municipalities. We aim to be in government in various provinces after next year's election. We are determined to be in government in cities and towns across South Africa in 2011.

We will be part of national government in the near future.

Of course, where we are in opposition, we will always provide the critical oversight and policy alternatives that everyone expects of us, and our country requires of us.

But our purpose is not to be an opposition party. It is to be a party of government.

And so, from now on, the DA no longer offers opposition and nothing else.

From today, we offer the people of South Africa a government that really can deliver a better future. A future in which every person is free. Where everyone has access to life-changing opportunities. Where growth and prosperity are shared by all. Where every child is protected and safe. Where each and every language and culture is respected and protected.

That is our dream. That is our promise. That is what we offer and will deliver to the rainbow people.

Our new offer is reflected in the policy proposals we are currently rolling out, covering every area of public life in South Africa today.

Only the DA has a comprehensive policy alternative to the challenges our country faces. Because underlying our offer is real substance - comprehensively researched and carefully considered.

As you can see, our new logo reflects our new offer. It is a morning sun rising over the Rainbow Nation. It represents our dream of an open opportunity society for all. It lifts our sights and our spirits. It signals hope. And it is grounded in our love for diversity.

The DA is a party that cherishes diversity. Some people believe merit and diversity have to be traded off against each other in South Africa today. We say not so. Not at all.

Diversity lies at the heart of merit. Because diversity adds strength, adds insight, adds value, to each decision we make and every initiative we take.

And so we will ensure diversity inside our party, and fight for it outside of our party. It is a core value.

It will not be compromised.

That is why you will see a new DA emerge from here on. More diverse. More reflective of our rich racial, linguistic and cultural heritage. And more committed to providing excellence and equity in public service than ever before.

Friends, the DA loves South Africa. We love our rainbow people in all their glorious diversity. They are our inspiration and our hope.

We love the Constitution, which binds us to one another after so much division and despair.

We love the land itself: the winelands of the Cape; the haunting horizons of the Karoo, the Highveld after a thunderstorm; the majesty of the Drakensberg.

The DA will not let down the land we love. We will never give up our dream for the rainbow people.

We will go from this place and campaign, every day and every night. But not just for votes in an election. This is not an election campaign launch. This is the launch of a new vision for South Africa; a renewed determination to make the South African dream a living reality.

And so we will campaign without cease or respite, before and after the election, until our country really is a land of hope and opportunity, of peace and prosperity, of safety and security. For all the rainbow people.

Een nasie, met een toekoms

Sinye isizwe, linye ikamva

One nation, with one future.


-

Photos by David Ansara

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Enkosi Mama Afrika!

.
Miriam Makeba at the 2006 Cape Town Jazz Festival.


Written by Sakina Grimwood

Music played an important role in South Africa's liberation struggle and the voice of Zenzi Miriam Makeba was particularly influential in raising international awareness of the plight of the majority of this country. Mama Afrika herself was outspoken about the evils of the apartheid government, addressing the United Nations General Assembly on several occasions.

Makeba spent 31 years in exile from South Africa, returning in 1990. Her age did not deter her from performing in the years since, and in a tribute to her memory, Nelson Mandela was quoted as saying "[i]t was fitting that her last moments were spent on a stage, enriching the hearts and lives of others - and again in support of a good cause".

Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the American Black Panthers to whom she was married for a decade, described discovering that "this attractive and apparently so gentle and mature woman was a very political creature, in fact an uncompromising militant where her people's freedom was concerned." In many ways, Makeba embodied the Black Consciousness woman who was proud of her heritage. Before American and European audiences she sang in indigenous African languages with her hair untouched by straighteners or weaves and without make-up – a powerful image and obviously very threatening to the old regime. It is little surprise that her South African passport was revoked.

After speaking before the Decolonisation Committee of the UN in 1963, Makeba was banned from returning to this country. In 1964 she also spoke before the UN Committee on Apartheid. When her mother died in 1963, Makeba was not allowed to re-enter to pay her respects. She could do so only after returning nearly three decades later.

A citizen of the world, Makeba performed at many events marking the end of a struggle and the beginning of liberation in countries across Africa. She sang in Nairobi at Kenyan independence, in Luanda, at Angolan independence, at the inauguration of the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa and also for Samora Machel in Mozambique. In her time away from her homeland, to which she yearned to return, she became an honourary citizen of several countries.

Makeba's life was a tapestry of struggle and success. Her role in contributing to the awareness of the oppressive regime in our country must be remembered. Her music, contribution and achievements should be celebrated.

-

Photo by Mark Oppenheimer

Friday, November 14, 2008

DA 'relaunch' 10:00 for 10:30 tomorrow

The DA is relaunching tomorrow (Saturday 15th November 2008) at the Constitutional Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. QPQ will be there to follow all the action.

These are my thoughts on the event.

(on the telly at 11h30)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pallo Jordan at UJ tonight

.

ANC NEC member Pallo Jordan is to deliver a lecture at the University of Johannesburg tonight. He is speaking as part of Xolela Mangcu's Platform for Public Deliberation. Dr. Mangcu has added a renewed vigour to UJ by bringing the Platform over from Wits.

However, apart from the footer in his Business Day columns, the marketing has been woefully inadequate for this event. A cursory look through Google has revealed little. All I know is that the focus will be on "current political developments". Obviously.

Here are the vitals:

WHERE: Council Chambers, University of Johannesburg (Kingsway Campus)

DATE: Thrusday 13 November, 2008

TIME: 18h00

Jordan is something of an unusual figure in contemporary politics. He has been on the receiving end of Thabo Mbeki's rath, having been sacked from the cabinet in 1999, only to be reinstated in 2004, albeit in the relatively minor post of Minister for Arts and Culture.

QPQ echoed Jordan's call for "generational change" in the ANC leadership prior to Polokwane, but as we all know that wasn't to pass. It is something of a mystery to me what his future will be under a Zuma presidency. Overall, I have often been impressed with Jordan's intelligent and nuanced approach to politics and his speech should continue with that tradition.


His master's voice speaks no more



Smuts Ngonyama, former head of the Presidency, has resigned from the ANC to join the Congress of the People (COP/Cope). This is unsurprising given that Smuts was at the SA National Convention and was so closely associated with former President, Thabo Mbeki. Mr. Ngonyama discussed his thoughts on leaving the ANC with QPQ at the convention. Click here for the interview, the news article by Fiona Forde of The Star appears below.

Struggle stalwart Lulama "Smuts" Ngonyama has resigned from the ANC to join the Congress of the People (Cope), bringing to an end more than 30 years of party loyalty.

The 56-year-old former ANC spokesperson told Independent Newspapers that "it is with great, great sadness" that he has reached this point, but feels that he can no longer recognise the values of the liberation movement to which he belonged. "This is not the ANC I knew," he said.

Ngonyama was due to speak to the ANC this morning to make known his intentions before hosting a press conference.

Although he joins a host of other comrades who have walked away from the ANC in recent weeks, he thanked the party for giving him the political upbringing that they did, "for giving me the kind of attributes and values that will always stay with me," and for affording him the opportunity to work with a host of great leaders.
He made particular mention of former president Thabo Mbeki, with whom he worked closely for a number of years, "who groomed me to become what I am today. I am deeply, deeply thankful to him," Ngonyama said.

He also thanked the incumbent president, Kgalema Motlanthe, with whom he worked in Luthuli House while he was party spokesperson and while Motlanthe was Secretary General.

Ngonyama intends to become a member of the Cope when the party is launched on December 16th but says it is too early to say whether or not he will play an active role in its ranks. He is currently studying for a Masters in South African Political Economy at the University of Nelson Mandela as well as lending a helping hand to start the Thabo Mbeki Leadership Institute. "I will have to weigh up all my responsibilities before we can begin to discuss that," Ngonyama said.

Ngonyama, who was born in Uitenhage, has held a number of high-ranking positions within the movement since he became an activist in the mid-1970s. He was elected to the NEC in 1994. Five years later became ANC party spokesperson, a position he held until the change in leadership at the Polokwane conference last December.

QPQ is hoping that COP/Cope will be able to draw many more disgruntled ANC members, but unfortunately Mr. Ngonyama comes with so much negative baggage from the Mbeki years that it is doubtful whether he will add value to the new organisation. Incididents such as his lashing out at political cartoonists (never a good idea as evidenced above), as well as the controversial dumping of Telkom shares stand out in my mind. I am wondering if being out of power will have a transformational effect on Mr. Ngonyama or if it will be more of the same from an old ANC aparatchik.

See also the M&G: 'Smuts Ngonyama cuts ties with ANC'


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Social Justice Coalition marches against the Arms Deal

Below is a call by the Social Justice Coalition to protest against the stifling of the Arms Deal investigations and the pervasive criminality in South Africa. Both of these issues have had a substantially negative effect on the welfare of our people and are reason alone to take to the streets. The march will take place tomorrow evening at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town. Be there if you care:




We, the people, live in fear. Fear of guns. Fear of knives. Fear of those who carry them. Fear follows us to school in the morning. Fear follows us home from the train at night. Fear stands in the shadows as we walk to the clinic. Fear is behind us in the queue at the bank. Fear waits for us in the street after collecting our pensions. We all fear crime. We are poor, we are rich, we women and men and children. We are refugees and immigrants. We are Christians and Muslims, Hindus and Jews. We are atheists and Buddhists. We are straight, gay and lesbian. This fear is amongst us all.

Our Constitution guarantees the rights to life, freedom, dignity, safety and security, as well as, open and accountable government. We know that we will not be safe and secure until there is social justice for all. We will not have social justice if we are not safe and secure.

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving safety and security is fact that our Cabinet in the past acted unlawfully on the arms deal, our former President protected a Commissioner of Police who by his own admission was a friend of criminals who bought him presents. Our Executive who believes they are accountable only to themselves. We need political leaders who are held to account and put the people first. The arms deal is an example of waste, corruption and a cover-up by the whole Cabinet under President Mbeki.

Why did our leaders spend over R50 billion on arms deals to buy warships and jets and bullets to protect us from attack when the real threat is poverty and inequality? Did they do this because it makes politicians rich? Did they do this because they made secret deals with foreign arms companies? How could they do this when they don’t understand the real fear we live in? In a case on the Road Accident Fund, the Constitutional Court said:

Corruption and maladministration are inconsistent with the rule of law and the fundamental values of our Constitution. They undermine the constitutional commitment to human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms. They are the antithesis of the open, accountable, democratic government required by the Constitution. If allowed to go unchecked and unpunished they will pose a serious threat to our democratic State.




We ask President Kgalema Mothlanthe to lead us:
  • No more secrets. To know all the secrets behind the billion rand arms deal. It is time for an independent judicial commission of enquiry to investigate and reveal the truth. There can be no real rule of law unless government is open about the arms deal.
  • One law for all people. The arms companies from Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden who corrupted our leaders and public servants and who stole our money must all be prosecuted in a court. The rich and powerful must face justice if they have stolen from the people. Our Constitution must be used to protect us from these people.
  • No immunity for arms companies. The companies who paid these bribes must also appear in court and their bosses must also go to jail if found guilty. For too long have they corrupted our people across the African continent.
  • An end to arms deals that steal from the people. Our nation must be able to protect itself – but not at the cost of social justice. No more arms deals until we have social justice and safety and security for all.
  • Safety and Security for all on the basis of social justice – this means the rights to decent housing, safe transport and streets, safe schools and playgrounds, safe clinics and homes.
-

I stand in awe of the SJC's organisational ability. Yet more proof that grassroots civil society is just way cooler than anything that party politics has to offer. Can anybody tell me if the Coalition is active in Johannesburg?


Monday, November 10, 2008

Book Launch: Go Home or Die Here

.

Wits University is hosting a book launch on Thursday 13 November at the Origins Centre (18h00). The volume, entitled Go Home or Die Here: Violence, xenophobia and the reinvention of difference in South Africa examines the xenophobic surge that irrupted in May of this year.

The attacks may have ended, but the problem has not gone away. Books like this one are necessary for unlocking the reasons for those terrible events and what can be done in future to avoid such things from happening again. Click on the image below to read the full details.


The blurb of the book:

"The xenophobic attacks that started in Alexandra, Johannesburg in May 2008 caused an outcry across the world. Go Home or Die Here emanates directly from the urgent colloquium, convened by the Faculty of Humanities in the University of the Witwatersrand, which addressed the unfolding violence in ways that were conversant with the moment, yet rooted in scholarship and ongoing research. This is a passionate and engaged volume that aims to stimulate reflection, debate and activism among concerned members of a broad public.

The book is extensively illustrated in full colour by The Times photographer Alon Skuy."

-

Hat tip to Alex Comninos at SA Connect for notifying me of the event.

Democratic Alliance 2: Resurrection

.


PoliticsWeb is carrying a statement by Helen Zille that the Democratic Alliance is to be 're-launched' at Constitution Hill this Saturday 15 November. According to Zille, the DA has conducted research into its levels of national support which has revealed an increase in potential voters for the party. She writes:

This appetite for change was illustrated this past weekend when we saw huge numbers of new voters registering to vote. The turnout was unprecedented. Our figures tell us that five times as many DA supporters registered to vote this weekend than in the first registration weekend before the 2004 election. People want change and they are prepared to go to the polls next year to be part of the change they want to see.

Zille also acknowledged that the following among black Africans had been less than forthcoming in the past, something the DA is hoping to change:
But our research also told us that the DA has significant potential among voters who share our values but who have not historically supported us. The reasons are complex and varied, but are essentially a function of South Africa 's history of racial division. We are determined to do whatever possible to overcome those barriers, transcend race and enable all South African who share our values to give us their support.

It would surely benefit the DA to extend its reach to previously disadvantaged communities. But how are they to achieve this without alienating their core constituency of middle class minorities who savoured the strident critiques of government that Tony Leon, the previous leader, so frequently articulated? Being an "uppity white" helped Leon garner the old Nat votes but limited his appeal to black voters.

It is therefore encouraging to see the opposition being frank about how demographics have constrained politics since 1994 and attempting to forge something new. Whether you support the DA or not, this is a welcome departure from the "Fight B(l)ack" days of the late nineties and good for racial unity in SA.

The timing of this event is also significant as it attempts to harness some of the energy generated by the SA National Convention of two weeks ago. The DA must be mindful of the challenge posed by the ANC-breakaway , the Congress of the People. The high levels of disaffection towards the ruling party was putting the DA in a good position, but the CoP is threatening to eat into those gains. Methinks that this relaunching is intended as a reminder that the DA is still around.

Don't expect a fundamental change of identity nor a realignment of policy but rather the initiation of the 2009 election campaign.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Voter registration this weekend

.
Click to enlarge.

QPQ
is urging its readers to get out and register to vote at their local voting station tomorrow and Sunday.

See the information in the above image or go to the Independent Electoral Commission's website for more details. URL:


Speaking of the IEC site; it has come to my attention that it only runs on Internet Explorer, which is a major oversight. Considering the fine record of the Commission in the past I am hoping that these kinds of errors will not become a permanent feature of their work.

If I were a conspiracy theorist I would be spinning some ripping good yarns about secret agendas at the IEC. Thankfully I'm not, but it is rather suspicious and I can think of no good reason why they would limit access to a single browser. C'mon guys, there are plenty of geeks out there - hire them!

If you are a Chrome or Firefox user and you want to know how to circumvent these problems see the fine new blog on everything ICT, South Africa Connect.

Specifically, this article:

'How to hack into the IEC website with a non-IE browser in two easy steps'

SA Connect is co-authored by Alex Comninos, a friend of mine from UCT. Alex is a fusion of computer nerd and social scientist and he is thus perfectly placed to speak meaningfully about the role that ICT plays in our lives. I will be watching this blog with a keen eye, as so far the posts have been very interesting (including this one on Obama as the world's first Web 2.0 president).

Hat tip to Nic at SA Rocks for the original image of the registration poster. BTW, Nic is becoming quite the activist these days and has really shed a lot of critical light on political awareness in his recent posts. Good to see, Nic.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Debate: Is the SABC becoming a state broadcaster?

Click to enlarge advert.


Date: 10 November 2008

Time: 18:00 for 18:30

Venue: Wits Great Hall, East Campus (Parking in Senate House Basement)

From the blacklisting of commentators considered too critical of Government, the resignation of respected editorial staff, controversial programmes being pulled off the air, controversy over the appointment of the board, the suspension of senior managers and court room drama to Parliament’s vote of no confidence in the board and proposed new legislation empowering it to dismiss the board, some say the SABC has become a state broadcaster.

Will the SABC be impartial and independent in covering political developments including the emergence of a new party and the run up to the elections? What should be done to reclaim the SABC and transform it into a genuine public broadcaster in the interests of democracy?

Join the Faculty of Humanities at Wits and The Weekender in association with the Save Our SABC Coalition in a public debate with some of the top media analysts.


Panellists include:

  • Mathatha Tsedu, former Editor-in-Chief: City Press and Head: Media 24 Journalism Academy;
  • Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Wits;
  • Nadia Bulbulia, SABC Board Member and former ICASA Councillor;
  • Dr Jane Duncan, Executive Director of the Freedom of Expression Institute;
  • Kate Skinner, Coordinator: Save Our SABC Coalition.
  • The debate will be facilitated by Prof. Tawana Kupe, Dean of the Wits Faculty of Humanities


For media enquiries contact:

Prof. Tawana Kupe, email tawana.kupe@wits.ac.za

OR

Kate Skinner, email kate.skinner@mweb.co.za


***

UPDATE: Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this event tonight, but I would be very interested to see hear how it goes.


Voices of the SANC: Helen Zille

Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance, South Africa's official opposition party, speaks to David Ansara at the SA National Convention in Sandton (1 Nov 2008). She discusses the health of democracy in SA, proposals for reviewing the electoral system, as well as the prospect of a governing coalition with the new political party after the 2009 elections.





DA:
Ms. Zille, that was a rousing speech that you gave just now. What are your initial impressions of the convention so far and what do you make of the leadership and the kind of messages that are coming out of them?

HZ: Well this convention is very encouraging. It shows how many South Africans are prepared to stand up for the constitution. For the last ten years we in the DA have felt like voices in the wilderness. We’ve been raising these points for fifteen years now and every time we’ve been dismissed - some people have called us racist - and I was quite concerned that South Africa was drifting into a one-party dominated state and that we could risk going like Zimbabwe.

After today, and after the developments that I think today will trigger, there’s no chance of us going the way of Zimbabwe. What we have to do is make sure that the values and the rhetoric that was here today gets translated into the kinds of outcomes we want to see. First of all, the values and policies and everything that go with it.

DA: What do you think this new organization needs to do in order to achieve those stated goals? How do they sustain the momentum that they’re gathering at the moment?

HZ: Well, no new organization has yet been established. Today’s forum and tomorrow’s forum is just a debate and a platform for people to state their views. The DA won’t join the new organization and certainly won’t disband. We are going to continue our organization, the Democratic Alliance, we’ve stood for these ideas for fifteen years (and much, much longer, before the democratic constitution) and we will continue to champion them. We will fight the elections all over the country. And after those elections if we can establish governing coalitions with people who share our values and share our principles we will do that.

DA: Gwede Mantashe, the Secretary General of the ANC, has dismissed this movement and the potential for a breakaway party as possibly having a damaging impact on other opposition parties – cannibalizing the other opposition parties. What do you make of those type of statements?

HZ: Gwede Mantashe is making a big mistake. That is the ANC spin; that is the South African Communist Party spin. They know precisely that most of the people this new movement is going to take are from the heart of the ANC. Look around you today and it will tell you.

DA: Right Ms. Zille, thank you very much.

HZ: Thanks very much..

DA: Um, one last question. The new party - or the potential new party - are talking about being the custodians of democratic values and the protectors of the constitution. That is a message that the DA has often broadcast to the South African electorate. What needs to be done to protect the autonomy of the judiciary and to ensure that we are guided by constitutional values in South Africa?




HZ: Well, I’m delighted that other people are starting to speak our language now as well in terms of the rule of law, in terms of the supremacy of the constitution and all of those important things. What South Africans need to do is ensure that they never vote for one party in such large numbers again. No party in a constitutional democracy should have a two-thirds majority. That’s asking for trouble and in a democracy people get the government they deserve.

DA: On the question of the electoral system, one of the proposals has been a mixed constituency and proportional representation system in lieu of the current PR system that we have. Do you think that this will have a positive impact on the way that politics is run in South Africa?

HZ: We fully support constituency-based and proportional representation together. We have a clear proposal on that and we would like to achieve the outcome of ultimate proportionality with accountability to the voters. That is our aim.

DA: And a direct presidential election system – is that part of your proposal?

HZ: Directly electing the president, the premiers and mayors is not yet part of our proposal but we’re looking at it with great interest. We think that if that were part of the system of government in South Africa the parties would consider a little bit more carefully before deciding who to put up into those positions.

DA: Just a final point. You suggested the possibility of a broad coalition of opposition parties. What conditions do you think need to be in place for that to happen?

HZ: Well I’m talking about a broad coalition to put us in government and not for perpetual opposition. We’re in politics to be in government. When we’re in opposition we will do that job as well as possible – which is very well – and when we’re in government we will also have the opportunity to implement our policies.

DA: Would that be based on some of the successes you’ve had in Cape Town using the broad coalition model?

HZ: Most certainly we will build upon the developing success we’ve been having in Cape Town. But the fact is before you go into a coalition with anyone there has got to be agreement on broad things like the Open Society, the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law. Not patronage, manipulation, power abuse and self-enrichment. We have to have an agreement on principles and we have to stand together against power abuse. Unless that is the case there is no basis upon which to form a coalition.

DA: Okay, thank you very much, that really is the end now!

HZ: Thanks very, very much.

-

Photos by David Ansara & Jared Jeffrey


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voices of the SANC: Smuts Ngonyama

Smuts Ngonyama, former ANC spokesperson, chats briefly to David Ansara at the SA National Convention.





DA: Smuts Ngonyama, can I get a comment from you about today’s events? Encouraging? Disappointing? Where to from now?

SN: This event was quite exciting; informative, quite sobering I must say. It was sobering in the sense that… I mean I grew up in the ANC myself, I never thought that another formation would be able to pull a big gathering of this kind.

DA: Do you think it’s going to be able to sustain the momentum that it’s built up over the last couple of weeks?

SN: Definitely. It’s very clear that here we are going to see something that is going to roll for some time.

DA: What kind of policy proposals or trajectory do you think the new movement’s going to take?

SN: Already they have emphasized the question of rural development which is quite exciting. And the question of poverty, which means - contrary to what has been said – it is not an elitist thing. This formation is worried about what is happening on the ground with regards to poverty, the inequalities of our country and all that. But at the same time the unity and the values of our country; the unity of our society and across racial lines.

DA: Very important thing as well: constitutional principles.

SN: Absolutely.

DA: That was emphasized a lot, but how is that going to be defended? How is the autonomy of the courts, the judiciary [going to be upheld]?

SN: Very important, very important…

DA: Okay, thank you Mr. Ngonyama.

SN: Thank you very much.

-

Photo by Jared Jeffrey


Monday, November 3, 2008

Helen Zille address to the SA National Convention

Address by the Democratic Alliance leader, Helen Zille, to the National Convention, Sandton, November 1 2008.



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.