Opinionista Mmusi Maimane 23 December 2013

Towards a competitive democracy

It never ceases to surprise how vicious the attacks can be against my advocacy of a transformed, reconciled society. These attacks tend to come from two types of people – those who believe they stand to lose from transformation; and those who have no interest in a reconciled society.

Some among us will ask: but why should we reconcile when inequality of opportunity is still the order of the day? Why should we reconcile when those who are privileged appear to have no interest in changing their attitudes toward race and justice?

These are interesting questions. My answer would be that many people misinterpret what Nelson Mandela did in 1994. Madiba did not reconcile society, and sweep all injustices under the carpet in the process.

Instead, Madiba created a philosophy that we could use to transform society, with reconciliation as a natural goal. Madiba’s philosophy of reconciliation enables all South Africans to find each other in new alliances for the common good.

We can go nowhere as a society if we continue to think of each other, not as individuals, but as part of distinct racial groupings. Ideas and attitudes cut across racial lines.

Let those of any race who’s agendas are to seek revenge, or to maintain racial privilege remain behind while the rest of us forge ahead with building the society of our dreams.

For the agents of change a better question to ask would be: how do we achieve this idea of a transformed, reconciled society?

In truth this can only be achieved by a collective of people who are brave enough to form a new non-racial centre, free from the prejudices of historical group identities in South Africa.

We must no longer be the oppressor and the oppressed, but human in the eyes of each other. We must also reconcile with our inner ourselves, to defeat centuries of teaching about who is superior and who is inferior.

To achieve our goals we will likely need to form coalitions and realign our politics in this post-liberation era. But this realignment can only be forged on principle and shared values. In the end it must be about a commitment and a plan to govern better, so that we can transform society and create opportunities for all in South Africa.

This can never be achieved by a federal coalition of races and cultures, along the lines of historical group identities.

Those who self-appoint themselves as spokespersons of a group often represent the worst prejudices of that grouping, to the horror of those they claim to speak on behalf of.

Instead it is a commitment to ideas capable of transforming society that will ultimately realign our politics. More and more, we are witnessing leaders emerge in different parties or civil society groups that would be capable of forming a governing coalition.

Now in this post-liberation era, we are witnessing the rise of the South African citizen and the fall of party loyalty.

This is the best possible development for our democracy.

In 1994 we voted for democracy. We did not vote for the continual dominance of one party that, under a new crop of unprincipled leadership, has forgotten about the people. There can be no accountability in this system.

We will start seeing true accountability in government only with a competitive democracy, where those in power fear they could be voted out.

It was not R200 million that built Nkandla. Arrogance built Nkandla. Self-interest built Nkandla.

These were qualities that did not exist in the leadership of Nelson Mandela, something which I saw first-hand when I visited his home village of Qunu. How different these two places of Nkandla and Qunu are.

In 2014 we are presented with the first opportunity of this new era to change our politics forever. We have an opportunity to take the historic first step in steering our country away from present injustices of corruption and unemployment.

For the first time, we see that Gauteng can be won by a different party than Jacob Zuma’s ANC. I am running for Premier because I believe we can bring change to Gauteng.

Next year I will take to the people a policy platform capable of putting opportunity and integrity at the centre of politics in South Africa’s economic heartland.

In a post-liberation era where the best of our leaders are passing the torch of freedom to us, the truth becomes clearer everyday that our destiny is in our hands. DM

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