Reference is made to our meeting held on Sunday the 7th of August this instant, in which we produced a guide for engaging other parties, in particular the ANC and the DA, on a possible coalition governments in some of the local councils. You will recall that in the guide document we proposed that there be a National Convention which, many citizens have welcomed and viewed it as an initiative to create hope for the better.
It is very clear that the pressing challenges of poverty, unemployment, inequality and corruption can no longer be tolerated by citizens of the country. Electorate have made a clarion call for a visionary leadership of the country to emerge and be charged with the responsibility to provide a road map towards resolving these challenges. Through the ballot box, they have instructed all political parties that participated in the elections to urgently converge under one roof to provide a decisive leadership.
It is the function and responsibility of political and societal leaders to ensure that the clarion call made by electorate is attended to without delay. Accordingly, a proposal towards the convening of a National Convention requires an immediate consideration and commitment by all leaders of political parties and other leaders of society. Such a proposal should constitute part of agreements to be entered into by political parties in coalition governments and be extend to all other parties.
THE PURPOSE OF THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
The envisaged National Convention shall be seized with the following matters, amongst others. These were identified in our guide to engage with the ANC and the DA as medium to long term priorities.
• Economic Emancipation of all South Africans biased towards the historically excluded groups.
• Resolution of the land question;
• Property ownership;
• Electoral system reforms;
• Party Funding Legislation;
• Strengthening of the Chapter nine institutions; and
• Any other related matter of national interest.
These priorities demands very tight and clear time-frame that shall bind all and be agreed to.
PARTICIPANTS AT THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
South Africa is at cross roads as it is rudderless because of poor or lack of proper leadership. Accordingly, the participants in the National Convention must be extended to all citizens through maximum representation from, amongst others.
• Political parties;
• Religious bodies;
• Traditional institutions;
• Non-Governmental Organisations;
• Institutions of Higher Learning;
• Issue based organisation; and
• Other Civil Society Organisations.
The South African crisis situation demands that we adopt an approach that is all inclusive and pragmatic.
One of the credits to our country is our ability to resolve challenges through dialogue. Certainly, in resolving the current crisis, we need to borrow from our recent past. CODESA delivered political liberation with more still to be done on the economic front. Such more work demands that we collectively craft and adopt a binding consensus on the matters raised above and others.
The intention must be to ensure that the people of South Africa are able to participate fully in determining and directing their future. In this regard, systems and methods of maximum and meaningful consultation with the communities shall have to be put in place and implemented with no fail.
FACILITATION AND COORDINATION OF THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
For a proper and productive dialog amongst citizens in a representative forum of this magnitude, it will be important that:
• That an all-inclusive National Summit be convened to develop and adopt a framework to guide all participants and role players of the National Convention. This National Summit shall precede the National Convention. Political parties both in coalition governments and outside the coalition governments shall have the right to participate in the summit including all sectors of society.
• That the Office of the Chief Justice be requested to assist with personnel to facilitate and guide discussions both in the summit and the convention. This personnel may include retired jurists and other citizens of prominence with not vested interests either than being citizens of the country. This personnel shall be part of a National Convention Steering Committee that shall be appointed by the National Summit.
• Although the intention is to ensure that all political parties participate, the process should resist from being held hostage by those who have no vested interest in resolving the pressing matters confronting our nation. In this regard, those who are not confident of this route, shall be persuaded through and by action.
The proposed National Convention must emerge with a comprehensive blue print of a road to be traversed by the country in dealing with all the matters raised above with strict time-frames and resources.
A cooperation by all political parties is what South Africans have called for in these elections. Accordingly, parties that agree on the convening of the National Convention must ensure that it is convened and is a success.
We must remain committed to the country and its citizens at all times and put South Africa first. Such a convention would fail it does not establish implementation committees with targets and time-frames under the guidance of the Convention Plenary.
The United Democratic Movement (UDM) views this approach and process as a consolidation of a programmatic and developmental relations that should exist between and amongst all political parties, the civil society and the citizenry. It is also a mechanism to redefine ‘coalition’ as a ‘cooperation’ that is driven by a desire and commitment to contribute to the betterment of the lives of all people than just a desire to swallow or co-opt other political parties and or sectors of civil society.