Elections 2009

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Vote for political leaders in Elections 2009 who also understand the economy

Artikel in Afrikaans Hieronder

Barend la Grange

Barend la Grange

It is a good thing for politicians to debate issues such as democracy, protecting the constitution, respecting legislation, group rights, human rights, street names, etc. People have certain basic needs, however, such as having food to eat, clothes to wear and a place to stay. They therefore need work, and for this purpose, a workable economy is a prerequisite.

Certain people too, boast that we have the best constitution in the world. This may be so, but if people do not have a job or food to eat, it does not help at all. 

Ronald Reagan once remarked: “You know it’s said that an economist is the only professional who sees something working in practice and then seriously wonders if it works in theory.”

What economist, for example, made the forecast that the oil price would tumble from a height of $147 to under $40 within a few months? I could not find one. The fact remains, however, that it did indeed happen, and Reagan’s remark was justified again. The oil price came down but the rand weakened ,interest rates went up and certain precious metals decreased to unexpected low levels , which resulted in the closing of mines and thousands losing their jobs. The ripple effect on our economy is tangible and appears to escalate even further.

It is however a fact that any economy moves in cycles and these changeables must be managed. Only the government of the day can play the overall role of creating an environment within which the economy can recover and thrive to the benefit of all in the country. In my opinion, too little emphasis is placed on the capability of our political leaders to govern the economy of our country. They are extremely capable of setting up legislation and formulating policies – including economic policy – but it is the enforcement where the problem arises and the political will is sometimes lacking. For many years there has been the debate regarding separate development (apartheid) and the party who fared the best in the debate was elected and considered capable. Nowadays those are elected who have the best “struggle credentials”. In the meantime, job creation and services are deteriorating.

The free market system is accepted by many as the most effective economic model for creating wealth, to ensure growth, create jobs and general financial prosperity for all in a country. A free market, however, does not mean that there should not be any rules and everything should be left to market forces. In the most recent past, it once again became clear with the total collapse of financial markets in America and the worldwide effects resulting from this. That economists with high expertise and financial experts were in the service of the biggest banks in the world, and still are, is no guarantee that they would make the right decision. Not that they did not know that things were heading for disaster. Even a first-year student with some knowledge of the economy would be able to foresee that if you deviate to such an extent from basic economic principles, it would result in disaster. But gluttonly makes people blind for reality and as long as you can glean, you just carry on, until…

The private sector therefore cannot merely be given a free hand without specific rules and regulation. The question is, who bears that responsibility? No one else than the government of a country. Someone must supervise the overall situation and maintain the balance. The banks in America considered their own interests only and allowed the rest of the country and its people to land up in a financial swamp where everyone would have to bear the burden for a long period of time. And where did the banks go and ask for help? With the government!! What this signifies is: draw the benefits of the capitalist system when all is going well, but not being prepared to run the risks if it does not go well at all – a general principle of the free market which is being violated. And the American congress gave in and helped – and just to start up the financial machine again, the lending rates are lowered by the Federal Reserve to between 0 and 0,25%. If this can be overlooked because the whole population is affected by what happens at the banks, the motor industry (GM and Chrysler) is also assisted with tax moneys. This is actually ludicrous. It delays the pain and the final fall of the economy will just be farther and harder. These are the decisions made by America, but unfortunately the dollar economy is so big that the rest of the world will be affected.

South Africa’s banks are better regulated, but still there is no lack of gluttony. The recently published report of the Commission on Competition which the large banks now so desperately want to withhold, gives shocking figures of extreme bank costs. They just want to reap, regardless of how tight people’s finances are, but who are actually “compelled” to keep on making use of banking services. ABSA has for example over the past five years increased its clientele from 4 million to 10 million. Many clients who earn meagre incomes who are exploited. Once again a case of reap whilst you still can. Just wait till someone complains – as in the case of the commission; there is no sign of caring for the people. After all, the CEO’s package of some millions per year must be paid, and the other top management members should not be allowed to earn too little either. This, in a country that is characterized by high unemployment, poverty and extreme inequality. More evidence that the private sector cannot just be left to their own devices. This is but one example. What applies to the banking industry, also applies to every other industry.

No industry should be allowed to draw advantage for itself at the cost of others. The aim should eventually be the wellbeing of the total economy so that all inhabitants of the country can share in that prosperity. This is where the government has a big role to play – even in a free market economy.

To achieve this after elections 2009, you need government leaders who understand the economy and have sufficient expertise to govern the economy on behalf of the people of the country who placed them in control. Inflaming speeches and chanting of freedom songs will not put the food on the table!!

Barend la Grange

Stem vir politieke leiers in die 2009 verkiesing wat ook die ekonomie verstaan

Dit is goed vir politici om te debatteer oor sake soos demokrasie, die beskerming van die grondwet, respek vir die regspleging, groepregte, menseregte, straatname, ens. Mense het egter sekere basiese behoeftes: om te eet, om aan te trek en ‘n blyplek te hê. Daarvoor het hulle werk nodig, en is ‘n werkbare ekonomie ‘n voorvereiste.

Te dikwels word daar geroem op die feit dat ons die beste grondwet ter wêreld het. Dit kan moontlik so wees, maar as mense nie kos het om te eet of werk het nie, beteken dit niks.

Ronald Reagan het eenmaal opgemerk: “You know it’s said that an economist is the only professional who sees something working in practice and then seriously wonders if it works in theory.”

Watter ekonoom het byvoorbeeld voorspel dat die olieprys binne die bestek van ‘n paar maande sal tuimel van ‘n hoogtepunt van $147 tot laer as$40? Ek kon nie een vind nie. Dit feit bly egter dat dit wel gebeur het, en Reagan se opmerking was dus weer geregverdig. Die olieprys daal maar, rente koerse styg, die rand verswak, en sekere edelmetale daal tot ongekende vlakke, wat die sluiting van myne tot gevolg het en duisende hul werk laat verloor. Die rimpeleffek op ons ekonomie is voelbaar en blyk verder te eskaleer.

Die feit is egter dat enige ekonomie in siklusse beweeg en hierdie veranderlikes bestuur moet word. Slegs die regering van die dag kan daardie oorhoofse rol speel om ‘n omgewing te skep waarbinne die ekonomie weer kan herstel en floreer tot voordeel van almal in die land. Na my mening word te min klem gelê op die bevoegheid van ons politieke leiers om ‘n land se ekonomie te bestuur. Hulle is uiters bekwaam om wetgewing uit te vaardig en beleid te formuleer – ook ekonomiese beleid – maar dit is by die toepassing waar die probleem inkom en waar die politieke wil soms ontbreek. Vir baie jare is gedebatteer oor afsonderlike ontwikkeling (apartheid) en die party wat in die debat die beste gevaar het, is gekies en as bevoeg beskou. Deesdae word dié gekies wat die beste “struggle credentials” het. Intussen gaan werkverskaffing en dienste agteruit. Hopenlik sal mense begin anders dink met die 2009 verkiesing.

Die vryemarkstelsel word deur baie aanvaar as die mees effektiewe ekonomiese model om rykdom te skep, groei te bewerkstellig, werk te skep en algemene finansiële voorspoed vir almal in ‘n land te weeg te bring. ‘n Vrye mark beteken egter nie dat daar geen reëls moet wees en alles aan markkragte oorgelaat kan word nie. Dit het die afgelope tyd weer duidelik geword met die algehele ineenstorting van die finansiële markte in Amerika en die gevolglike verspreiding wêreldwyd. Dat baie kundige ekonome en finansiële kenners in diens van die grootste banke in die wêreld was, en steeds is, is geen waarborg dat hulle die regte besluit sou neem nie. Nie dat hulle nie geweet het dat daar op ‘n afgrond afgestuur word nie. Selfs ‘n eerstejaarstudent met ‘n bietjie kennis van die ekonomie sou kon voorsien dat as jy sodanig afwyk van die basiese ekonomiese beginsels, dit op ‘n ramp gaan afstuur. Maar gierigheid laat mense blind vir die werklikheid en solank jy kan skep, word daar maar voortgegaan, totdat…

Daar kan dus nie net vrye teuels aan die private sektor gegee word sonder bepaalde reëls en regulering nie. Vraag is, wie dra daardie verantwoordelikheid? Niemand anders as die regering van ‘n land nie. Iemand moet oorsigtelik toesig hou en die balans handhaaf. Die Banke in Amerika het net na hulself gekyk en die res van die land en sy mense in ‘n finansiële moeras laat beland waar almal die las vir lank sal moet dra. En by wie gaan klop die banke aan vir hulp? By die Regering. ‘n Teken van: trek die voordele van die kapitalistiese stelsel as dit goed gaan, maar is nie bereid om die risiko’s te loop as dit sleg gaan nie – ‘n algemene beginsel van die vrye mark wat verbreek word. En die Amerikaanse regering gee weer toe en help – en om die finansiële masjien net weer aan die gang te kry, word die uitleenkoerse deur die Federale Reserweraad verlaag tot tussen 0 en 0,25%. As dit nog verskoon kan word omdat die hele bevolking geraak word deur wat by banke gebeur, word die motorbedryf (GM en Chrysler) ook nog met belastinggeld gehelp. Dit is eintlik belaglik. Dit stel net die pyn uit en die finale val van die ekonomie gaan net verder en harder wees. Dit is die besluite wat Amerika neem, maar ongelukkig is die dollar-ekonomie so groot dat die res van die wêreld geraak word.

Suid-Afrika se banke word beter gereguleer, maar aan gierigheid ontbreek dit ook nie. Die pas gepubliseerde verslag van die Mededingingskommissie wat die groot banke so graag nou wil teruggehou hê, gee skokkende syfers van buitensporige bankkoste. Hulle oes net, ongeag die mense in die land wat swaarkry en eintlik “verplig” word om van hul dienste gebruik te maak. ABSA het byvoorbeeld die afgelope vyf jaar sy kliëntetal vergroot van 4 miljoen tot 10 miljoen. Kliënte wat maar skrapse inkomste verdien wat uitgebuit word. Weer ’n geval van skep solank jy kan. Wag maar tot iemand kla – soos in die geval van die kommissie, maar van omgee vir die mense is daar nie sprake nie. Per slot van sake, die CEO se pakket van dermiljoene p.j. moet betaal word en die ander topbestuur kan darem ook nie te min verdien nie. Dit, in n land wat gekenmerk word deur werkloosheid, armoede en ekstreme ongelykhede. Hierdie is maar ‘n enkele voorbeeld. Wat vir die bankwese geld, geld vir elke bedryf.

Geen bedryf kan toegelaat word om hom ten koste van ander te bevoordeel nie. Dit gaan uiteindelik oor die welstand van die totale ekonomie sodat alle inwoners van die land in daardie voorspoed kan deel. Dit is waar die regering ‘n groot rol het om te speel – selfs in n vryemark-ekonomie.

Om dit te bereik na die 2009 verkiesing, het jy leiers in die regering nodig wat die ekonomie verstaan en kundig genoeg is om die bestuur daarvan namens die mense van die land te hanteer wat hulle daar geplaas het. Opruiende toesprake en die sing van vryheidsliedjies gaan nie kos op die tafel plaas nie!!

Barend la Grange

Is Politics really a ‘dirty’ game?

Artikel in Afrikaans Hieronder

Maretta Bellingan wrote in Rapport last week: “There are people who when they hear you work for a newspaper, quickly make excuses. No, sorry, I don’t read the newspaper, too much bad news.  What does one say to someone like that?  Carry on regardless, you uninformed ‘palooka’.  Who wants to be part of this life if you prefer acting like an ostrich? Or: No, I understand, the world is evil, the less you know, the less you have to feel.”

Her article once again reminded me of some people’s reaction when it comes to politics.  When they hear you are involved, or even merely interested in policitics, they are quick to remark: “No, politics is just a dirty business, I don’t want anything to do with it, let the politicians go ahead, they are only doing it in their own interests anyway.”  And with this generalisation they easily evade their responsibility.

This attitude is often justified from a Christian point of view.  The greatest part of our country’s population consider themselves Christians, thus a few remarks on this topic.  I am not a minister of religion and don’t want to dwell on the field of theology, but because I also belong to the group who call themselves Christians, I have my views about the matter. (I do, however, accept that many may disagree, and I respect that).

Politics in itself cannot be “dirty”. Politics are about the principles by which a country is governed and managed, and the practical application of these principles.  It is all about the code of conduct; the policies of a government in respect of specific issues; procedures and behaviour.   In the Bible, the issue of governments is a big one. In the Old Testament it is explained in detail which were good and which were bad governments. In times where the leaders served God, it went well with the country, and the opposite was also true.  In the New Testament, it is said that all governments were put in place by God. The Bible teaches that we have to obey our governments and pray for them. I can’t imagine that this means you always have to pray for the “rubbish” . It is understandable that there is a negative perception regarding politicians, but again, we cannot generalise.

No country can exist without a government – no matter how “spiritual” you are. We are still here on earth and it is given to us to take care of, control and manage. People often want to distantiate themselves from politics, but the decisions of government have a direct impact on each of us, whether it be on the level of economics, security or education, or any other level. Whether you want to admit it or not, political leaders have a direct influence on our daily lives. We deal with government departments on a daily basis, which carry out government policies; policies that are set by the legislative authority, consisting of people. Our election system in South Africa operates like those of many other countries – a democratic system by which the citizens of a country decide who their leaders must be. The solution is to get the right people in those positions. However, because people choose their government, it does not mean that God is left out of the picture. It does, in fact, place a greater responsibility on us to be involved and to vote. Why?  Because God uses people to carry out His purposes on earth, and uses us to elect them. 

My question is this – don’t Christians have a role to play here? It is specifically in this area where Christians can practice their morals and values to the benefit of everyone.  I’m not talking about a political party with a Christian name. No matter what the name, morals and values must become evident through policies and behaviour.  (Personally I don’t really care much for a Christian name for a political party – for a few reasons, but that is a different debate).  People don’t necessarily want to hear that you are a Christian; they want to see and experience it. Christians who want to distantiate themselves from politics, to me often seem ‘holier than thou’. “You keep yourself busy with earthly things, and I will keep busy with the heavenly”, . The danger is that we can become so heavenly minded, that we hardly mean anything to anyone here on earth. I would much rather see more “Josephs” and “Daniels” in our government, Biblical figures who held top political positions and had a remarkable impact on the government and population of their time. So much so, that they still serves as examples today. Even Jesus showed His disciples how to pray “May Your Kingdom Come; Your Will Be Done; As It Is In Heaven; So Be It On Earth”.  It surely means that while we are still here on earth, we have an important role to play.

Politics do not apply to matters of government alone, but everywhere: in the workplace, church, sports – you name it. This is not the problem. It is the politics within politics, the politics at work, church and sports that make it problematic. That is what is “dirty” about politics. This is when everything is merely about your own advantage, and where principles and values no longer apply. We are not compelled to have anything to do with that. It was CJ Langenhoven who said: “Eer ‘n man na sy posisie, dit is genoeg dat hy die posisie oneer aandoen”. (Translated: “Honour a man for his position, it is sufficient that he is a discredit to the position.”) We as South Africans are tired of honouring the government and people in positions of authority just because they hold those positions of authority. We would love to honour a person or government because they deserve it.

Politics are about ‘serving’. The call for more Christians to become involved in politics, is not to create a Christian power base. It would hold its own dangers if that were the motive (another further debate). The purpose is always to put the best and effective government in place to serve its country and its people – people who are qualified and competent, no matter what religious views they have. Christians must however be involved.  The fact that things got “dirty”, is precisely the reason why Christians who live their principles and values, must be involved.

Even though we must obey and pray for our government, it does not mean that we can’t differ and criticize them. How could they construct policies without this? It is true that politics may sometimes become slightly robust in order to reach a solution, but this does not mean that we must become enemies and destroy each other in the process. It is in the ways in which we differ and debate that need to be changed in South Africa.  I warned in my previous article against the spirit of bitterness and intolerance which has taken a grip in our land (especially since the split in the ruling party), and if this is not managed well by strong leadership, it could lead to political violence on the road to Elections 2009. This is not something we can afford. The Christian belief is based on forgiveness and love – love for every person – no matter what…Can we handle our politics in the same manner? Yes, a thousand times YES!!!

Barend La Grange                                                                                                  Elections 2009

Politiek: Is dit dan “vuil”?

Maretta Bellingan van Rapport skryf die vorige week: “Daar is mense wat wanneer hulle hoor jy werk by ‘n koerant, vinnig verskoning maak. Nee, jammer jong, ek lees nie koerant nie, te veel slegte nuus. Wat se ‘n mens vir so iemand? Neuk maar aan, jou oningeligte paloeka, wie wil dan nou meedoen aan die lewe as jy jou lyf volstruis kan hou. Of nee, ek verstaan, die wêreld is boos, hoe minder jy weet, hoe minder hoef jy te voel”.

Toe ek haar artikel lees, het dit my weer laat dink aan sommige van ons mense se reaksie as dit by die politiek kom, veral hier voor die 2009 verkiesing.  Hoor hulle jy is betrokke, of stel net belang wat daar op die politieke gebied aangaan, is die aanmerking gou: “Nee wat, die politiek is maar ‘n ’vuilspul’, ek wil niks daarmee te doen he nie, laat hulle maar aangaan, hulle doen dit net vir eie belang en om hulle self te verryk”. Daar word maklik veralgemeen en daarmee is die verantwoordelikheid afgehandel.

Hierdie gesindheid van mense rondom die politiek word dikwels regverdig uit ‘n Christelike oogpunt.  Die grootste deel van ons land se bevolking beskou hulself as Christene, daarom ‘n paar aanmerkings hieromtrent.  Ek is nie ‘n predikant nie en wil my nie begeef op die gebied van die teologie wat hierdie saak aanbetref nie, maar omdat ek self tot daardie groep behoort wat hulself Christene noem, het ek my siening oor die saak (maar aanvaar terselfdertyd dat ander kan verskil en het ek ook daarvoor respek).

Die  politiek op sigself kan nie “vuil” wees nie. Die politiek gaan oor die beginsels waarvolgens ‘n staat geregeer en bestuur word en die praktiese toepassing daarvan. Dit gaan oor die gedragslyn, die beleid van ‘n regering met betrekking tot ‘n bepaalde saak, optrede en die manier van optrede. As ek nou na die Bybel kyk sien ek in die Ou Testament word baie gemaak van regerings.  Daar word breedvoerig gehandel oor wie  goeie en wie slegte regeerders was.  In tye waar regeerders gedoen het wat die Here sê,  het dit goed gegaan met ‘n land – en omgekeerd.  In die Nuwe Testament word daar gesê dat elke owerheid en gesag wat daar is, deur God daargestel is.  Oproepe word in die Skrif gemaak dat elkeen die regering van die dag moet gehoorsaam en vir ons owerhede moet bid.  Ek kan net nie aanvaar dat hier bedoel word dat jy altyd vir die “vuilgoed” moet bid nie.  As die politiek vuil is, is dit sekerlik omdat baie politici dit op ‘n onaanvaarbare manier bedryf. Dat daar ‘n negatiewe persepsie oor politici is, is seker verstaanbaar.  Maar selfs hier kan ons nie veralgemeen nie.

Geen land kan bestaan sonder ‘n regering nie – al is jy hoe “geestelik”.  Ons is nog op aarde en die aarde word aan ons as gewone mense gegee om oor beheer uit te oefen en te bestuur. Dikwels wil mense hul van die politiek distansieer, maar tog het regeringsbesluite ‘n direkte impak op elkeen se lewe – of dit op ekonomiese gebied is, of sekuriteit, onderwys, of op watter gebied ook al. Of jy dit wil erken of nie, politieke leiers het ‘n invloed op jou daaglikse manier van leef en handel, en dit gaan ook so wees na die 2009 verkiesings. Ons het ook daagliks met staatsdepartemente te doen wat regeringsbeleid uitvoer en daardie beleid word deur die wetgewende gesag daar gestel wat tog uit mense bestaan. Ons kiesstelsel in SA werk soos in baie ander lande op ‘n demokratiese wyse waar die landsburgers die keuse uitoefen oor wie hul leiers moet wees. Die oplossing is dus dat ons die regte mense daar moet kry om te regeer, want die invloed wat hulle op ons lewe het, kan jy nie van ontsnap nie.  God is egter nie buite die prentjie omdat mense nou die keuse maak nie,  nee inteendeel, dit plaas ‘n nog groter verantwoordelikheid op ons om betrokke te raak of te stem, want Hy gebruik mense om sy taak op aarde te verrig en vir ons om hulle te kies. 

My vraag is dus – het Christene nie ‘n rol om hier te speel nie? Dit is juis die plek om te wees om sodoende Christelike waardes en beginsels prakties toe te pas tot almal in die land se voordeel. Hier praat ek nie van ‘n party wat in naam ‘n Christen-party is nie.  Wat ook al die naam.  Beginsels moet gestalte kry in beleid en in optrede. (Ek persoonlik het nie erg aan ‘n Christelike naam vir ‘n politieke party nie – om ‘n paar redes, maar dit is ‘n ander debat). Mense wil nie noodwendig hoor jy is ‘n Christen nie, hulle wil dit sien en ervaar. Die gesindheid van Christene wat hulle wil distansieer van die politiek, grens dikwels aan geestelike hoogmoed:  “Hou julle maar besig met die aardse, ek is besig met die hemelse dinge.”  Die gevaar is dat ons so hemelbewus kan wees dat ons weinig vir ander mense iets op aarde beteken.  Nee, ek sal  meer “Josefs” en “Daniëls” wil sien in ons regering, Bybelfigure wat topposisies in hul regerings beklee het en wat so ‘n impak op die regering en die bevolking van hul dag gemaak het dat dit  vandag nog as voorbeeld dien. Selfs Jesus het sy dissipels geleer bid: “Laat U koninkryk kom, laat U wil geskied, soos in die hemel net so op die aarde.” Terwyl ons nog op aarde is,  lyk dit my het ons nog ‘n groot rol om te speel.

Politiek bestaan nie net op staatkundige gebied nie, dit is orals;  in die werk, kerk, sport – noem maar op.  Dit is nie die probleem nie.  Dit is die politiek in die politiek en die politiekery in die werk, kerk, sport wat onaanvaarbare praktyk word.  Dit is wat “vuil” is. Dit is waar dit gaan oor eie gewin en waar waardes en beginsels nie tel nie. Daarmee hoef ons niks te doen te he nie.  Dit was CJ Langenhoven  wat gesê het:  “Eer ‘n man na sy posisie, dit is genoeg dat hy die posisie oneer aandoen.”  In SA is ons moeg daarvoor om ‘n regering en mense in posisies te eer net omdat hulle in die posisie van gesag is.  Ons wil graag die eer gee op grond van verdienste.

Politici se taak is om te dien. Die oproep dat meer Christene betrokke moet wees by die politiek, gaan nie daaroor om ‘n Christelike magsbasis te bekom nie.  Daarin lê sy eie gevare as dit die motief is (ook ‘n verdere debat). Dit gaan steeds om die beste en mees effektiewe regering daar te stel om ons land en sy mense te dien – mense wat bekwaam en bevoeg is, ongeag sy godsdienstige oortuigings.  Christene moet egter daar wees.  Dis juis omdat dinge so vuil geraak het dat Christene, wat die beginsels en waardes uitleef, betrokke moet wees. Die 2009 verkiesing gee ons die geleentheid

Al moet jy die regering gehoorsaam en vir hulle bid, beteken dit nie dat jy nie van hulle kan verskil en kritiseer nie. Hoe anders gaan daar beleid bepaal word?  Dat die politiek soms robuust kan raak om by ‘n oplossing te kom is waar, maar dit beteken nie ons moet vyande word en mekaar soms in die proses vernietig nie. Dit is die manier van verskil waar ‘n aanpassing in SA nodig is. Ek het in my vorige artikel gewaarsku teen die gees van verbittering en onverdraagsaamheid wat in ons land posgevat het (veral ná die skeuring in die regerende party) en as dit nie deur sterk leierskap goed bestuur word nie, kan dit lei tot politieke geweld in die aanloop tot die 2009 verkiesing, wat ons land groot skade kan berokken.  Die Christelike geloof is gebou op vergifnis en liefde – liefde vir elke mens – ongeag… Kan ons só ons politiek bedryf?  Ja, ‘n duisend maal Ja!!!!!

Barend La Grange                                                                                                     Elections 2009

Strong leadership!! That’s what SA needs, now

Artikel in Afrikaans Hieronder

It’s only the beginning of the road to elections 2009, but the choice of which leaders and which political party to represent us in the following 5 years is of critical importance. True leaders in SA are hard to find, almost completely non-existent. We have plenty of politicians, good politicians. Yes, people who know how to play a political game, but true leaders, NO WAY.
 
The past convention just proved this once again. The old story rings true; criticising your political opponents followed by vague promises of protection of the constitution and human rights etc, supported by a few “AMANDLA” and “VIVA” cries to lift the spirits. For the message itself, fails to impress. Similar to the olden days where the NP and CP political gatherings were marked by cries of “HOOR, HOOR” should you agree, or “SKANDE, SKANDE” should your political opponent come under fire from the speaker. But, inspiration, unity and the creation of trust are a far cry. Maybe we have simply got used to being satisfied with too little. I would love to get excited, as on Rapport wrote on its front page: “HIER KOM ‘N DING”. But no luck, the same old story again, nothing new…
 
I’m looking for something with an “Obama element”; a man just elected as the next President of the USA, which has only a 12% African-American population. Why can’t our leaders pick a few ideas from his recipe book for elections 2009?  It does not matter whether or not you are an Obama supporter: The man can inspire!  A Shilowa or a Lekota simply does not have it. They both struggle to hide their bitterness toward their previous political home. I was hoping that a few potential leaders and speakers would appear who will make a difference and give us hope for elections 2009.  (I think Hennie Smit – Bertie from Egoli – who also attended the convention out of curiosity, would have been a much better and more inspirational speaker than any of the ANC break-aways). The hope, however still exists that a few strong leaders will appear from their midst.
 
It is true that we need a new group who will halt the unhealthy overpowering force of the ANC in the 2009 elections, but at the end all succeed or fail at leadership. For that reason, this new group will have to search for those within who can lead, unite and inspire.
 
Leaders must command respect and values that a proud nation would want to identify with. Mr Zuma and his leaders are not such leaders, and for that matter, a split in the ANC is very welcome. This new era of a divided ANC will however require strong leadership and management. Our democracy is a young one, and it is clear that within the Zuma faction, not all understand what that means, and that it is in fact acceptable to differ.  We are entering a very delicate stage in time, and should this not be managed correctly, the elections could result into conflict and violence. Wisdom will be needed though. Leaders who are able to manage these differences, are required for the democracy to continue. The attitude that many of our people have, i.e. “Let factions in the ANC destroy one another”, is a reckless attitude. The ANC remains the government of South Africa, and what happens in the ANC has a direct impact on the whole of South Africa. It is important that economic stability remains – especially now with the world economic crisis, where South Africa, even with political stability, is seen as a high-risk market.
 
The DA does not boost plenty of strong leaders either, but I must admit that Helen Zille was the exception at the convention. Firstly, she attended it without reservations, a sign of someone that does not feel threatened. (In addition, credit to the break-aways that invited other political parties). She seized this opportunity and instilled so much trust in a group that would not support her traditionally. Helen Zille became one with them and created the impression that she understood them. She seemed genuine and not just playing politics. Whether she will succeed in attracting disgruntled ANC members in the 2009 elections  is still doubtful, or maybe it is still a little early to say. However, other political parties should be worried at Zille’s evident influence. Maybe it’s time for her to give up the position of Mayor of Cape Town, go to Parliament and be seen as a national leader and not one of a region or a city. If there is not one capable person to fill her position, then the DA is just as poor on leaders.
 
One example of poor decision-making is that of the Freedom Front Plus. The decision not to attend the convention will probably be excused by a few thumb-sucked strategic reasons. The fact remains; they missed a golden opportunity. A platform was created to send their message (direct TV coverage, with local and international media), but they say: “No thank you”. How can people hear your message and judge if you aren’t even there? How small and irrelevant of a party do you want to become by distancing yourself from reality? I can’t think that Pieter Mulder would support such a decision. I think he would have done very well at the convention. It’s a pity, because such a chance does not come often.
 
But, the convention was an ideal kick-off to the 2009 elections. Such variety of people coming together gives me hope. Interesting times lie ahead. South Africa is most definitely not a boring place.
 
Barend La Grange                                                                                                              Elections 2009

Sterk leierskap!! Dit is wat SA nou nodig het

Dit is maar die begin van die aanloop tot die 2009 verkiesing maar die keuse van watter leiers en watter politieke party ons die volgende 5 jaar moet verteenwoordig, is nou reeds van kardinale belang. Ware leiers in SA is maar skaars; amper totaal afwesig.  Ons het heelwat politici, goeie politici, ja, mense wat weet hoe om politiek te speel in die politiek, maar ware leiers, aikona.

Die afgelope konvensie het dit weer bewys. Dis die ou retoriek – kritiek op jou politieke opponente en dan vae beloftes van beskerming van die grondwet en menseregte ens., ens.  Dan opgevolg met ‘n paar “Amandla”- en “Viva”-uitroepe om bietjie gees op te wek, want die boodskap het maar min om die lyf.  Baie soos in die ou dae van NP en KP politieke vergaderings se uitroepe van “Hoor, hoor” as jy saamstem en “ Skande, skande” as jou politieke opponent onder skoot kom van die spreker.  Van inspireer, verenig en vertroue skep is daar nie sprake van nie. Miskien het ons maar gewoond geword aan min.  Ek sal so graag wil opgewonde raak soos Rapport op sy voorblad uitbasuin “ HIER KOM ‘N DING”.  Maar ai, kan ons nie verras word met ‘n nuwe ding nie .  Iets wat ‘n “Obama element” bevat.  ‘n Man wat so pas verkies is tot die volgende President van die VSA met slegs ‘n 12 % Afro-Amerikaanse bevolking.  Kan ons leiers nie ‘n paar dinge uit sy resepteboek gaan haal nie?  Of jy ‘n Obama voorstander is of nie: die man kan inspireer.  Shilowa en ‘n Lekota het dit eenvoudig nie.  Hulle sukkel om hul  bitterheid teen hul  onlangse politieke tuiste weg te steek. Ek het gehoop dat daar ‘n paar potensiële leiers en sprekers te  voorskyn sal kom wat ‘n verskil sal kan maak en mense hoop kan gee. (Ek dink Hennie Smit – Bertie van Egoli – wat ook die konvensie uit nuuskierigheid bygewoon het, sou ‘n beter inspirerende spreker gewees het as enige van die ANC wegbrekers.)  Die hoop beskaam egter nog nie dat daar ‘n paar sterk leiers uit hulle geledere tevoorskyn sal kom nie.
 
Dat ons ‘n nuwe groepering nodig het om die ongesonde oormag van die ANC in die 2009 verkiesing te stuit is waar, maar alles staan of val by leierskap,  daarom sal die nuwe groep moet mooi kyk en soek daar tussen hulle wat kan lei en mense verenig en inspireer.

Leiers moet kan respek afdwing en waardes weerspieël waarmee ‘n volk hom met trots kan  vereenselwig. Mnr Zuma en sy leierskorps is nie daardie mense nie en daarom is ‘n splitsing in die ANC so welkom. Hierdie nuwe era van ‘n verdeelde ANC sal egter baie sterk leierskap vereis om te bestuur.  Ons demokrasie is nog jonk en dit is duidelik dat die Zuma-faksie nie almal verstaan wat dit beteken nie, en dat jy maar kan verskil.  Ons beweeg in ‘n baie delikate tyd in, waar as dit nie reg bestuur word nie, die verkiesing in konflik en geweld kan ontaard.  Wysheid sal nodig wees. Leiers wat hierdie verskille kan bestuur sodat demokrasie nie net in naam bestaan nie, is ‘n voorvereiste.  Die houding van baie van ons mense dat die ANC mekaar maar moet uitroei , so asof die ander dit maar net met genoegdoening kan gade slaan, is uiters naïef.  Die ANC bly die regering van die land en wat daar aangaan, het ‘n invloed op al die inwoners van die land.  Dis belangrik dat daar ekonomiese stabiliteit gehandhaaf word – veral nou met die wêreld se ekonomiese krisis waar SA, selfs met politieke stabiliteit, as ‘n risiko mark gesien word.

Die DA loop nou nie oor van sterk leiers nie, maar ek moet erken Helen Zille was ‘n uitsondering op die konvensie.  Eerstens het sy dit bygewoon, sonder voorbehoude, ‘n teken van iemand wat nie bedreig voel nie.  (Krediet ook aan die afsplitsers wat ander politieke partye genooi het.)  Sy het haar kans aangegryp en soveel vertroue ingeboesem by ‘n groep wat haar tradisioneel nie sou ondersteun nie.  Sy het een geword met hulle en ‘n gevoel geskep sy verstaan hulle. Sy gee die indruk sy is opreg en speel nie politiek nie.  Of Helen daarin sal slaag om in die verkiesing 2009 , ontevrede ANC-lede na die DA te trek is te betwyfel, of miskien is dit net te vroeg om te sê.  Ander politieke partye kan egter bekommerd wees oor die impak wat sy maak.  Dit is seker tyd dat sy nou die  Burgemeester-ketting van Kaapstad moet ophang. Sy moet in die parlement kom en gesien word as Nasionale leier en nie van ‘n streek of stad nie.  As daar nie eers een bekwame persoon is om haar posisie daar oor te neem nie, is die DA maar baie arm aan leiers.

Een voorbeeld van swak besluitneming is dié aan die kant van die Vryheidsfront Plus. Die besluit om nie eers die uitnodiging na die konvensie te aanvaar nie, sal seker deur hulle met ‘n paar goed uitgedinkte strategiese redes regverdig word.  Die feit is, ‘n gulde kans is daarmee heen.  Hier word ‘n platform geskep om jou boodskap uit te dra (direkte TV-dekking, met plaaslike en wêreldmedia teenwoordig om van te droom) maar jy sê nee dankie. Hoe kan mense jou boodskap hoor en beoordeel as jy nie eers daar is nie?  Hoe klein en irrelevant wil die party dan word en hoe ver wil hy hom dan isoleer van die werklikheid? Ek kan nie dink dat Pieter Mulder die besluit sou steun nie. Ek dink hy sou baie goed gevaar het.  Dis jammer, want so ‘n kans kom nie sommer weer voor die 2009 verkiesing nie.

Maar die konvensie was ‘n ideale afskop vir die 2009 verkiesing.  So ’n verskeidenheid van mense wat saam kom, gee my moed.  Hier lê interessante tye voor.  SA is nie ‘n vervelige plek nie.

Barend la Grange                                                                                                       Elections 2009

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