Lecture by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP (UDM President) on political realignment at the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park Campus on Thursday, 01 August 2013
University Management and Academics,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.
It has been more than fifty years since freedom and democracy reached the shores of the African continent, although the time at which each country tasted political liberty varies from country to country.
BACKGROUND AND EFFECTS OF ONE-PARTY DOMINANCE
However, since the attainment of freedom and democracy, the common denominator in many African countries today is one-party dominance.
Some examples that come to mind are:
• The African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since 1994 here in South Africa.
• The Zanu-PF of Zimbabwe, that has been in power since independence in 1980 and the
• The Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) that has been in power since their independence in 1960.
The negative effects of one-party dominance are numerous. Chief among them, however, is the conflation of “the party” and “the state”.
The Eskom/Hitachi/Chancellor House deal in which the ruling party gets a share of the spoils every time Eskom increase the price of electricity, is a case in point.
This corrupt behaviour unfortunately extends to most government departments and institutions in South Africa.
The ruling party’s cadre deployment policy in which loyalists are deployed to senior positions in the public sector, without regard for their competence and suitability, is another negative effect of one-party dominance.
One-party dominance in South Africa has also resulted in a situation, where the ruling party does not account to the electorate regarding progress on service delivery, the failures and the challenges.
As I am speaking to you, the levels of complacency and arrogance among the ruling elite have reached crisis proportions.
While this occurs, opposition parties have to operate on shoestring budgets and with inadequate resources.
POLITICAL REALIGNMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA
It is against background that the United Democratic Movement (UDM) took a decision, as far back as 1999, to engage other political formations in discussions about the need to realign South African political landscape.
We took this decision primarily because, as a party, we felt and still feel that, under the present government, the nation is not on track in fulfilling the original agenda – which is to improve the lives of all South Africans.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our version of political realignment does not refer to a ganging up of opposition parties against the ruling alliance, but rather a
re-grouping of people around new concepts that were brought up in the wash of momentous political change over the years.
We feel this should not be difficult to accomplish given the fact that political parties already have common concerns with regards to matters like: the current economic policies that cause unemployment and poverty; corruption; service delivery, education, health, environment and civil disobedience.
Fortunately, sister opposition parties heeded our call. In 2008, the first version of the Multi-Party Forum was established. This forum included both parties both inside and outside of Parliament.
Despite the many achievements of the Forum since 2008, there have been many stops and starts along the way.
However, the hard work and commitment to place the country back on the path to the original agenda is what has kept us together.
We have also drawn courage and lessons from the fact that a precedent has been created in different places in the world where, political parties with different interests, work together without losing their identities.
In fact, we have a perfect local example. Look at the ruling party, where communists, capitalists, traditionalists, liberals, unionists and even their old foe, the National Party, sit at the same table and speak with same language.
The results of the 2009 elections gave further impetus to the political realignment project. They showed that the South African electorate wants a system where two large parties, of similar strength and size, compete for the mandate to govern.
The election results also show that the ANC lost ground in eight out of the nine provinces. Unfortunately, most opposition parties failed to capitalise on this. As a result, the ANC managed to absorb its national setback with a very strong showing in KwaZulu-Natal. This occurred due to our misreading of the state of the nation, where each party believed it had what it took to dislodge the ruling power from power on its own.
As we speak, I have invited leaders of political parties to a meeting on the 12th of August 2013 in Cape Town to discuss a wide range of issues that would help us level the political playing field in the period before and beyond the 2014 elections.
We are optimistic that these political parties will emerge out of this meeting with a strategy on how best to put an end to this one-party-dominance, which breeds corruption and arrogance of power.
“What is the way forward, Mr Holomisa?” You might ask.
In our presentation, at a the meeting of the leaders of political parties held inn Kempton Park on the 25th of January 2013, we warned our colleagues about the dangers of each party going it alone in the 2014 elections.
This is because we believe that not only would going it alone be a missed opportunity, to increase political competition and provide South Africans with a credible alternative, it would also constitute a waste of resources and valuable time.
In that meeting, we proposed that opposition parties contest the 2014 National and Provincial Elections under one banner, but that we retain our individual identities.
This can be done by forming an alliance, which we describe as a pact or friendship agreement between two or more parties, made in order to advance common goals and to secure common interests).
An alliance agreement, governing cooperation between the different stakeholders, would be drafted as soon as possible with a clear mission, vision and objectives and it should also define the role of each stakeholder. This would enable us to pursue a set of agreed upon goals, whilst each party retains their independence.
The success of such an alliance depends on our ability to create a win-win outcome for all stakeholders.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This task will be impossible to accomplish without your help. I encourage you to make your voices heard on this matter in order to ensure that we develop a political alternative that caters for all the interests and needs of the people of South Africa, both black and white.