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A government of national unity: One small step for President Ramaphosa, one giant leap for South Africa

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By David Gant
02 Dec 2021 11

David Gant was co-founder and co-chairperson of Denis Worrall’s Independent Party in the late 1980s; Fedex Chair of the Democratic Party; member of the President’s Council; and member of the DP caucus. He was a delegate to the Codesas of the 1990s.

President Cyril Ramaphosa should take the initiative of convening a summit of political leadership comprising past and present players, from all parties and specifically from the ANC elders and stalwarts, who recognise the futility of clinging to the political status quo and seek a unified South African solution to our distressed state.

Now that the bluster — the posturing and political gamesmanship of the local elections — is over, it is time for our country’s political establishments to stop playing self-serving games and get down to the business of restoring our country to an economically strong constitutional democracy that recognises and respects the rule of law and provides an adequate level of human dignity to those citizens who have been deprived of it for so long.

The liberation movement in the form of the ANC did its job successfully, but has failed dismally as a governing party. 

It is fractured, corrupt, incompetent, internally rebellious and lacks the vision, sense of reality, courage and integrity to qualify as a governing party. It has become self-delusional and strives to survive for its own selfish purpose and not that of the nation it purports to serve and lead. 

The majority of the electorate no longer idolises the ANC for what it has been and recognises that it is not what it should be, and that a continuance of an ANC-led government can only lead to a failed South African state.

While the emergence of some new faces within the DA and their mayoral positions is a welcome relief from the dominance of the Zille/Steenhuisen partnership — and the values, principles and policies of the party have to be integral in guiding our politics going forward — the DA does not have the look of a governing party on its own, and it is unlikely to persuade a majority of the electorate that it does. The perception that it has willingly or unwillingly created, that race does not matter, has not helped its cause.

With the fascist-like Malema at the helm and largely responsible for the EFF’s political profile, the party is unlikely to occupy anything much more than a mischievous minority corner in our political structures. 

The vast majority of our electorate is fully aware that rabid racism, a passion for destroying white monopoly capital, disregarding property rights and insulting, antagonising rhetoric against all and sundry, are no formula for a peaceful solution to the country’s pressing problems. And while Malema and his cronies may well remain an unwelcome thorn in the side of political progress, they will not be of real and lasting relevance.

With no single party having the potential to adequately govern the country on its own, and with the majority of the electorate, business, civil society, religious and other significant groupings (even within the ANC) occupying the centre of our political ground, it seems obvious that a centrist party should emerge and take the lead in representing that central political territory.

In short, most South Africans would welcome a government of national unity that is supported by the majority of the electorate and has the capacity and capability to unify the country behind values, principles and policies that serve the nation rather than promote particular party self-interest and self-preservation of individuals and cadres.

It also seems obvious that such a centrist party must mainly emerge from the ranks of the ANC, the DA and the smaller parties that reject extreme left and right-wing political, social and economic philosophies and policies.

How then do we create a political establishment that unites the majority of our citizens, puts our country on a winning trajectory and provides a sense of pride, confidence and promise to our nation?

The answer lies with our political leadership — in particular, President Cyril Ramaphosa. If he wants to leave a legacy as a statesman rather than a petty party political loyalist who presided over his own party’s catastrophic collapse and disintegration, and consequently the failure of the country of which he is president, he should heed his own words when he states that “political leaders should put aside their differences and work together” and do something active and positive about making that happen.

He should take the initiative of convening a summit of political leadership comprising past and present players from all parties, and specifically from the ANC elders and stalwarts, who recognise the futility of clinging to the political status quo and seek a unified South African solution to our distressed state.

The summit should acknowledge that the current fractured political party make-up will not produce a government capable of leading the country to a peaceful and prosperous state; that the interests of national survival should be put ahead of party interests and that, with the exception of the radical left and right, the so-called differences, when analysed carefully, are not actually that great and are capable of being compromised and welded into a unified political solution that will satisfy most of the electorate.

The purpose of the summit would be the creation of a government of national unity with broad consensus on values, principles and policies — essentially support for our existing Constitution, the role of the private sector, electoral reform and social and economic justice, including sensible and affordable racial redress.

Parties that hold intractable positions or red lines in the sand — such as the EFF’s expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of state assets and anti-white dogma — would be excluded from the government of national unity. Likewise, individual members of parties — the likes of the Magashules, Niehauses and other uncompromising zealots from any party — would simply be sidelined and free to follow their own course.

The formation of a government of national unity arising out of such a summit would prove to the world once again that South Africans are capable of determining a promising future. It would inspire confidence and stimulate international investment and would be a guarantee, rather than a political slogan, of a better life for all.

President Ramaphosa likes convening summits and conventions. Convening a summit of relevant past and present political leaders would be a small step for the president to take, but it could be a giant historic leap forward for our nation.

It would also reveal to the nation at large where our politicians’ loyalties really lie. DM

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All Comments 11

  • 100% in agreement.
    However, I know it’s difficult to swallow, but the ‘dominance of Zille/Steenhuizen’ is what makes the DA work.

  • Excellent idea. This would be the kind government that would put the country first. Would the politicians have the maturity to work with other parties when they seem not to be able to work with their own?

  • A grown-up adult solution to guide us to at least the possible solution to our myriad serious issues? Leading to the arrest and incarceration of many within the ANC? That requires Ramaphosa to be Presidential and for a majority in the ANC to support it?

    I think I just saw pigs flying over Constitution Hill ….

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