RSA: THE ROAD AHEAD … at least as some see it.


On 10 November F W de Klerk addressed the Cape Town Club on “The Road Ahead”.

De Klerk said that in a speech earlier in the year he had observed that we were approaching a pivotal point in our history where all South Africans of goodwill would have to rally around the Constitution.
Since then the balance had begun to oscillate more and more erratically between the positive and the negative.   According to De Klerk there are still many positives:

•    Expected growth of 3.1% this year was still not enough – but was a lot better than many leading economies.
•    Government debt would be ratcheted up 40% of GDP –  which was still far healthier than many leading economies where national debt now exceeded 100% of GDP.
•    President Zuma’s announcement in late October of the firing of two ministers and the suspension of the Commissioner of Police and the appointment of a commission of enquiry into the arms deal were moves in the right direction – even though they should have been taken earlier.
•    The Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, had been playing an exemplary role in investigating maladministration.
•    Civil society was proving to be a formidable protector of constitutional values – as had been shown by its continuing role in combating the Protection of Information Bill.
•    South Africa had continued to play a prominent role in international affairs – in the AU, the Group of 20 and BRICSA;
•    The courts had proved their effectiveness in upholding the Constitution and in curbing the power of the executive.

These positives had unfortunately gone hand in hand with some disturbing negatives.

One of the central concerns was the likely impact of the ANC’s National Conference in Mangaung next year.

De Klerk said that MPs were completely under the control of their party machines because they lost their seats in parliament if they were expelled from the party that nominated them to the Assembly. This meant that what happened in the inner chambers of political parties became more important than what happened in Parliament.

At the ANC’s last national Conference in Polokwane in December 2007 a swing of just 10% of the      3 900 voting dramatically changed the face of South African politics.   The Mangaung Conference next year would determine whether President Zuma would be serve a second term.  It would lay down policy for the following five years and would show which of the Alliance’s factions would emerge as the most powerful grouping.   De Klerk said that In the months between now and the National Conference the various factions in the Alliance would be fixated on securing the support of as many delegates as possible.  “The trouble is that all this maneuvering is not conducive to clear and effective leadership”.

De Klerk said that although the ANC’s decision to suspend Julius Malema might have cut short his career it had not changed the realities that underlay the Malema phenomenon:

•    The first was the millions of unemployed and under-educated young South Africans that he claimed to represent.  The New South Africa had failed to provide most of them with basic education and the jobs that they desperately need.  Their plight required priority attention from government, business, civil society and trade unions.  “What our young people do not need are the populist and economically illiterate remedies that are being offered by the Youth League”.
•    The second disturbing factor was the ANC’s failure to take a firm public stand against increasingly racist and inflammatory rhetoric. Some months earlier, President Zuma had sat in silence on the same platform in Galashewe while Malema called whites “criminals, who have stolen our land and who should be treated as criminals
•    Finally, the real problem was that Malema’s views were not out of line with the ANC’s own National Democratic revolution ideology which called for “the elimination of the legacy of apartheid super-exploitation and inequality, and the redistribution of wealth and income to benefit society as a whole, especially the poor.”

The ultimate goal of the NDR was a society in which all aspects of control, ownership, management and employment in the state, private and non-governmental sectors would broadly mirror the demographic composition of South Africa’s population.

As  a result of this ideology, coloured employees in the Department of Correctional Services in the Western Cape had been informed that their numbers would have to be reduced from 38% to 9% to bring them into line with their share of the national population  The NDR ideology was  also evident in the Green Paper on Land Reform  which asserted that “all anti-colonial struggles are, at the core, about two things: repossession of land lost through force or deceit; and, restoring the centrality of indigenous culture.”  The authors were actually saying that seventeen years after 1994 the anti-colonialist struggle was not over; whites were colonialists; the struggle was against them; and only the indigenous culture should be central.

The Green Paper proposed a policy of ‘Agrarian Transformation’ – which it described as  “a rapid and fundamental change in the relations (systems and patterns of ownership and control) of land, livestock, cropping and community.”   De Klerk said that implementation of the Green paper would have far-reaching and negative consequences for local and foreign investment and for future food security.  It would also harm race relations and undermine property rights.

De Klerk said that no reasonable South African would question the need to promote genuine equality; to achieve fair and sustainable land reform; and to remove any barriers that might remain to black advancement in the economy or in any other sector of our national life.  He called for dialogue with the ANC and said that South Africans needed to talk with one another about these issues in the frank and constructive way that we did during the negotiations of the 1990s.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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