COMMENT ON COMING NATIONAL ELECTIONS
Comment by: Ps Ray McCauley
In a few weeks’ time we will be holding our sixth democratic elections. It is a measure of how quickly our democracy has matured – that to date we have not had any election declared unfree and unfair or followed by endless court cases contesting the results.
We are part of a continent where political differences are still settled through the barrel of a gun and where it is not uncommon for political rivals to be thrown into jail. It happened in our country prior to 1994 and we should be grateful that our sordid past is behind us.
We must commend ourselves, that as a relatively young democracy ours is a functioning one. Citizens and election authorities, in particular the Independent Electoral Commission, have ensured that we value democracy and are entrenching it within our society. Political parties have competed for our votes in an intimidation-free a manner as possible. The notion of power at all costs appears to have been successfully disabused. These are achievements we should be proud of as a nation. Despite the hurdles and challenges which we face, it is a practice we should stick to in the run-up to the national elections.
But even as we commend ourselves, I have a feeling that our country is now entering the next phase in its evolution as a democracy. Whereas in the past people may have voted according to their fears or what they stood against, this time around our vote is going to be more about the things we stand for.
A few years ago many in the country rallied against what was emerging as alarming corruption – and it was a correct stance. But it is going to take more than an anti-corruption stance to rebuild our country. We need good policies on a variety of matters. But more critically, we are going to need implementers and enforcers of these policies.
Our people are suffering under the heavy weight of unemployment, there is nothing more injurious to ones dignity than when a man or woman is not able provide for their family. Statistics show that we have the highest youth unemployment rate which is a ticking time bomb in our country, we need government to act and to act swiftly.
The inequality in our society where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer is not sustainable. Crime will become more difficult to control as a result of the majority of our people suffering under humiliating poverty. We need to restore our people’s dignity by dealing with our unemployment problem decisively.
While we welcome efforts by our government to address our education system, more needs to be done. Our education system is not producing what our economy needs. Our basic education together with our early development learning needs capacity building so that the development of our youth can be grounded early, preparing them for the long journey ahead. Collective leadership is required in order to achieve this and it cannot be the responsibility of a political party alone.
Efforts are being made to deal with Corruption in our country, however , corruption is still part of our society, corruption is robbing us of our ability to build a strong economy, corruption is robbing us of our ability to provide more money for education, it is robbing us of our ability to increase social grants to the less privileged. While we welcome the good work that is being done by the commissions that has been set up by the President, we need more than identifying corruption. We need the political will to follow through by arresting the guilty. We need a government who has a zero tolerance policy of corruption. it needs our law enforcement agencies to act without fear or favour.
Our economy has been stagnant for a long time, especially so in the last few years and this has created all sorts of problems for our government. It has affected service delivery on the grass roots level where there is a significant need of services. We need policies that will enable our economy to grow at the rate that will produce jobs and increase service delivery.
Most of our municipalities are dysfunctional or have collapsed because of poor governance and bad financial management. They are not able to fulfil their constitutional mandate to provide for the basic needs of our people. They are not able to provide clean water, sewage and electricity. In order to deal with these things, we need correct skills at the municipality level and servant leadership.
These are the things affecting our people on the ground, we need the right policies and political will to implement them. This is what will take our country forward. One of the criticisms often levelled against the current ANC government is that it is good on policy formulation but weak on implementation. I suspect this is not unique to the ANC.
It is not enough to stand against something. It’s time for progressiveness to embrace and promote the issues we stand for. These issues are economical for us all — yes, even for the corporations. If corporations want to show what good citizens they are, fine. Let them put their own skin in the game .
We have an opportunity to rebuild our country, we have the opportunity to unite our people and we have an opportunity to take South Africa forward, let us bring policies that will build our country, let us bring policies that will unite and not divide our country. Let us move our country forward.
PASTOR RAY McCAULEY IS THE PRESIDENT OF RHEMA FAMILY CHURCHES AND THE CO-CHAIRPERSON OF THE NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS COUNCIL