The Common Tator

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An Open Letter to the Official Opposition.

Honourable Mr Steenhuisen

I am writing this letter as a citizen of South Africa, who finds his day distracted and pre-occupied with concerns over the future of South Africa, the political trajectory we are on, and the most likely outcomes for our country and its citizens.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has used the COVID-19 pandemic well and our ANC government’s policy, regulatory and leadership response has moved the DA back to relevance. I say this because the DA has shown great resolve in taking many of these developments to court and battled these issues on behalf of the citizens it represents. Yes, I stress this as I do not believe we have to list who they are, but rather outline the key constituency. In taking up the main cases, the DA have gone to court over;

  • The Right to Work, on behalf of the Hairdressers and beauticians.
  • The racial bias of disaster relief funding and its application using BBBEE.
  • Staying the food distribution by NGO’s banning, pending a further hearing
  • Various other regulations including e-commerce, the curfew, tobacco, and alcohol sales
  • The Constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act before the Constitutional court

Of interest, the most talked about reversals suffered by the ANC led government, are not because of DA actions, or any specific political party, these are:

However, when we view this on the larger stage of history, the lens applied to the lockdown and its effects on the citizens of South Africa seems to be missing. This lack of vision is outlined when it comes to the broader policy framework being pursued by the ANC, and the DA’s policy framework response. This is important because the relevance now gained by the DA in the national debate can be applied.

In the euphoric transformation of South Africa to a constitutional democracy post 1994, we were acutely aware that there was significant work to be done to ensure the survival of this transformation. That we were coming from a long period of inequality and draconian state regulated racialism meant that the new South Africa would have to redress past injustices, forge a new path for all South African’s where each of its citizens could enjoy equality before the law, justice for all, religious freedom and the equal hope for prosperity.

In examining the score card, some key areas of concern are apparent. These include health, education, basic infrastructure, ownership of land, the right to work, the right to access information and freedom of the press. In formulating the policy of the DA, care needs to be taken that it too undergoes transformation away from a traditional white capitalistic background of protectionism to a more inclusive mandate. Unfortunately, this thinking has not been evident. That capitalism results in a skewed class-based society is evident globally and that income and wealth disparity is exaggerated as a result, is not difficult to predict.

Coming from a tightly held minority controlled economic position, the change necessary to address a redistributive period was missed. That the ANC was able to lead this by racializing this disparity remedy applied records poor performance on all. It is hard to argue that BEE and AA were not necessary in the early days of our democracy. Yet these are wealth taxes, where a significant percentage of the country’s performance is handed to others to redistribute and level the playing fields. Instead we have seen the Communist Parties influence come through, and the Marxist dogma of centralising the levers of power and the economy become central to the ANC’s policy framework. That this has been barstardised by a kleptocratic outcome is not surprising, any vacuum is always filled.

The Institute for Race Relations (IRR) has published policy guidelines that would replace BEE with a non-racial version of the same tax, called Economic Empowerment (EE). It does not change the placing of this wealth into the hands of individuals, but rather seeks to broaden the pool of recipients. This is a flawed approach, as it does not address the key areas of concern highlighted earlier in this letter.

Since any empowerment is a “super-tax”, it is about the application of this diverted wealth that is the purview of policy. To effect meaningful change in the lives of the downtrodden, the correct application of these diverted funds to health, housing, sewage and water provision, education and food security would easily change the trajectory of the poorest of lives. Of the trillions of Rands diverted by kleptocracy, patronage and elitism, these would have redressed most of the needs to effect basic change. Or at least made significant inroads to changing the outcome for the country.

So why, you may ask, am I addressing this letter to you, Mr Steenhuisen, acting leader of the Democratic Alliance. And why am I not offering solutions to the key metrics discussed in this letter.

As our beloved country, South Africa, stands at the cusp of significant change, our people have seen the indifference of the struggle leaders to their plight. And to effect change, a capable, diverse party with a sound and understandable policy framework, is essential. This will provide a viable alternate to the destructive path we are forced to be on. The populace has voted for change four times and been disappointed daily.

The time is now to transform yourself as a party, with easily understandable talking points, a common vision, underwritten by your national capability. To miss this opportunity now, as you head into your leadership race and policy conference, would simply mean that others will step into the void. Be courageous now, frame a new policy that is inclusive but not communist, free market while managed.

To be myopic now or steeped in your western doctrine, may miss the blending of ideals between the ‘isms fulfilling a true rainbow solution where it could add flavour to our unique challenge. Leadership will recognise the opportunity; true leadership will take it.

Yours in hope

Kevin van Wouw – The Common Tator


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