Opinionista Bantu Holomisa 17 April 2017

Open Letter to SA’s leaders: We can no longer wait to act – it is now or never

The United Democratic Movement proposes a national convention to seek solutions to the crisis confronting South Africa and to look beyond marching for the removal of President Jacob Zuma.

Dear Leaders of political parties and civil society organisations,

  1. Introduction

When South Africans marched under the leadership of the opposition parties at the National Day of Action (12 April 2017), I advised that we cannot march forever, but that we must find a way to converge under one roof to discuss South Africa’s future.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is of the view that we must find a vehicle that will provide a safe space for all stakeholders, irrespective of political affiliation, to assemble and hammer out a common future vision for South Africa that is binding to all.

We may therefore soon need to have a national summit, which should ultimately culminate in a national convention, where leaders of political parties and civil society can exchange ideas on how to take South Africa forward. We should find solutions to our current set of challenges and, most important, set the ball rolling so that we may leave behind a prosperous country for future generations.

The UDM was not left off the hook with this statement and I was asked what the next step should be. This, in my view, confirms that our nation yearns for an alternative route towards finding sustainable solutions to our vexing problems and remove the dark cloud that hangs over our fledging constitutional democracy under the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC).

  1. Background

South Africa is at a crossroads and is in urgent need of visionary leadership who provides guidance in finding lasting solutions to the challenges we face. The uprisings, as is expressed through peaceful marches, reflect a deep-seated frustration about the direction the country is taking.

A relatively tiny group of almost 800,000 ANC members is effectively holding a nation of an estimated 56-million citizens at ransom. It acts in the name of 11-million voters, some of whom have since joined hands with other citizens, which includes the plus-minus 8-million people who did not vote ANC, in protest of its leadership and its sponsored president.

The ANC not only sometimes sponsors bad policy choices, but it is also hell-bent on defending one individual, lacking responsible leadership, who has been found (by the highest court of the land) to have contravened the country’s Constitution.

Instead of providing good leadership, ANC leaders feed the nation with flimsy excuses for not acting against one of their own. The country has, as a result, slipped further down the slope with no hope of the ANC ever providing the kind of leadership that is required. Who ever thought that this country, endowed with so many resources, would be reduced to “junk status”?

It is the same ANC that is undoing the legacy of the likes of Mandela, Sisulu, Luthuli, Tambo and many others who fought for a free, democratic South Africa. It is disingenuous to call 2017 the “Year of Oliver Reginal Tambo”, while the words and actions of the current batch of ANC leaders are in stark contrast to the values OR Tambo espoused.

The “self-correcting nature” of the ANC is long gone and South Africa cannot invest in this myth going to the 2019 national and provincial elections. It may be that the outcomes of the much-awaited ANC Elective Conference of 2017 will be worse than expected. Unfortunately, and because the ANC is the governing party, South Africa will not emerge unscathed from its internal implosion.

  1. The way forward

Consistent with the UDM’s views, I want to suggest – in broad strokes – the following steps as a matter of urgency.

South African from all walks of life – including political parties, civil society organisations and any interested individuals – should get together as soon as possible to craft a new vision for South Africa. This should not only culminate in a road map for extracting us from this ANC-made quagmire, but one that will result in a prosperous future for our people.

    1. Meeting of leaders

The UDM therefore suggests that the leaders of political parties and civil society must first meet to thrash out the issues to be tabled at a future national summit. This meeting of leaders will only set out an agenda for consideration at the aforementioned summit.

At this meeting, a steering committee must be formed to prepare for the bigger forum of a national summit. The funding of this process should be tackled i.e. should private funders be solicited and/or should government be approached for assistance. The steering committee should also be capacitated to attend to practical matters such as determining a suitable venue and sending out invitations.

    1. The National Summit

Once we find common ground at this proposed national summit, and agree on minimum binding principles, working groups must be formed to tease out the details of the programme to be implemented, that should report to the summit plenary for further discussion and adoption.

A new vision, as mentioned earlier, should in practical terms respond to burning issues such as land, economy, employment, corruption, good governance, education, health, review of our electoral system, party funding and others.

    1. The National Convention

Any resolutions adopted at the national summit should then be tabled at a national convention where all interested South Africans and/or organised civil society, as well as government, should be present.

In conclusion, I want to stress that we can wait no longer to act; it is now or never.

Yours in finding a solution.

Bantu Holomisa, MP

President of the United Democratic Movement DM

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