Don’t get me wrong. Today’s South Africa is a far more pleasant place in which to live for the majority of its people than it was in the evil past, when they were third-class citizens, without basic human rights, such as the right to vote. However, this does not mean that the ANC, which many annoyingly refer to as the “ruling” party, should not be open to criticism, debate and challenge.
At a time when we have the most unpopular post-apartheid President, in Jacob Zuma, I believe that there are encouraging signs.
The DA remains the most potent opposition party, and with its control of the Western Cape it is showing us just how awful the cadre-corrupted ANC is at basic administration. However, the EFF, with its overall and beret uniform and ability to speak to the ordinary citizen, is a powerful force – despite its apparent economic illiteracy. Parliament is just what it is meant to be, at long last, a place where interesting and important issues are aired and the leaders are challenged. Of course, we don’t want chaos all the time, but it is reassuring to see one group of parliamentarians which is not prepared to accept the stuffy and repressive rules of the past.
Organised business remains horribly disorganised, not helped by the breakaway movement of black businessmen who have every right to want to see a more even distribution of races in the business community, but whose strategy seems to leave others feeling a bit uncomfortable.
It was interesting to see the reports of the role which some of our top bankers played when President Zuma was playing musical chairs with his Finance Ministers, and if these reports are to be believed, they saved the day by ensuring the respected – but far from perfect – Pravin Gordhan was parachuted in to try to sort out the mess. Of course, one should not ignore, either, the (weakening) voice of the Trades Unions, not the cries of civil society.
However, a true democracy requires that there is a voice for all, and that is why I delight in the emergence of a movement of citizens in the anti-toll road movement, under the banner of OUTA. While this campaign may not fully overturn these horrible taxes imposed on Gauteng citizens as they drive along our highways, OUTA has caused several climbdowns, resulting in a far lower burden than first imposed. And there are millions of people who have been inspired and encouraged by OUTA, headed by the impressive Wayne Duvenage, and are refusing to pay their tolls. If you want a true example of people power in South Arica, here it is.
At the time when Zuma was changing Finance Ministers almost as often as he changed his underwear, OUTA appeared to be widening its message, with a warning that government might face a general tax revolt – and not just over motorway tolls.
Of course, OUTA is under-funded and under-resourced, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could move from the advocacy arena into the mainstream political arena in a more sustainable manner? It has shown itself to superbly articulate the rights of citizens in a more united and uniting way than most existing political parties.
An OUTA parliamentary candidate? She (or he) would certainly get my vote.
Tweet of the Day:
Jewish Comedians (@JewishComedians): Lewis Black: Earth Day was created by my generation b/c we were doing so much drugs we needed a day to remind us what planet we lived on.
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