Opposition Politics In South Africa Given A Boost
Dr. Mamphela Ramphele addressed the Independent Democrats' congress in South Africa last weekend and inspired many with her perceptive insights into the need for strong opposition politics in South Africa.
The former vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town and former managing director of the World Bank spoke of how South Africa needs to be looking for sustainable, quality constitutional democracy on a continent that is desperately seeking them. Too often Africa has proclaimed democracy, spoken of national unity, and then accused opposition politics for creating disunity. Elected leaders in all parties, she said, needed to be people who reflected the values of our constitution, lauded by the world, but certainly not lived out in the structures of our national life.
She went on and described the need for opposition politics to be practiced within the context of healing the wounds of the nation. This is particularly true of the majority who have not experienced the fruits of liberation. The opposition has to provide creative alternatives, instead of superficial and unconstructive reaction. She emphasised the need for it to move beyond the legacy of fragmentation and racial lines, in to a credible oppositional unity.
The private sector, she said, is being dominated by strong monopolies which in turn affect the most vulnerable in our society. These monopolies set the norm for political monopolies, especially when the ruling party begins to enrich itself and cements its power through this enrichment. Here opposition politics must continually challenge these monopolies and the state culture of corruption, nepotism, and the blatant and outrageous misuse of public resources.
A key element for her in the way oppositional parties need to work is the picking of issues that matter to the least of those in the Land. The major issues that affect them should be central to any oppositional strategy. To neglect this would render all opposition inaffective.
She ended by saying, "As a nation we are very well positioned to be great. The question is: do we have the will to do what needs to be done?"