Tag Archives: parliament

Mandela statue for parliament?

In this article, the DA is calling for a statue of Mandela to be put up in the parliamentary precinct. The last time they suggested it (in 2000) the idea was rebuffed by the ANC which said they don’t like putting up statues of people still alive. That’s not necessarily a bad policy, but it does kind of ring hollow when they’ve already named a city and a university after the man. My suspicion is they’re irritated that it’s the DA who suggested the idea, thereby by spearing the DA-wants-apartheid-back myth that the ANC is so fond of spouting about the opposition.

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Is there a Winkie in the House?

Parliament’s unparallelled ability to generate hot air does lend itself to becoming a geothermal power plant and could solve South Africa’s electricity shortage instantly. But, failing that, it also has the potential to play a relevant, stimulating part of South Africa’s democracy.

Ndumiso Ngcobo’s recent call for some “politainment” is a timely one. It’s about time South Africans got more involved in our “democracy”. And that’s only going to happen if we are exposed to the machinations, the cogs and cock-ups, of our legislative process.

Let’s boost the ratings of Parliament Live — let’s lure the masses away from 7de Laan and The Biggest Loser. Firstly a name change for the parliamentary programme is called for. Politics Survivor? Lost in Translation? Big Brother National Assembly? You decide.

Thankfully, Parliament has attracted just the right people to achieve this lofty aim. Holding court from the Speaker’s chair, Baleka Mbete does sterling work in ensuring that Parliament remains a ruling-party rubberstamp “until Jesus comes” (as Zuma says). Indeed, when she’s not giving Yengeni a piggyback into Pollsmoor or letting gravy-plane fraudsters off the hook, the chiffon-swaddled Caramello Bear is creating an atmosphere where the House’s torpid proceedings are becoming a tad more enlivened.

One such example is Winkie Direko’s throat-slitting gesture at DA MPs a few months ago. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get on to page six of the Argus/Star/Citizen’s late edition. Winkie’s pinky — the finger that spilt 10 000 teacups.

Personally, I think the honourable member’s attention-seeking stunt was a little bit first-base. For heaven’s sake! Why doesn’t she liven things up a bit by driving denizens of the Constantia-gevaar into the chilly depths of Cape Town harbour? Throw a panga and some struggle songs into the mix and you’ll have the nation glued to their screens.

But then, of course, I dare say that certain of Direko’s compatriots that could do with a good dunking in 10-degree Atlantic water — as that’s almost guaranteed to wake them from their semi-literate stupor. That will soon put an end to the snoring and/or self-absorbed nose-picking (even if the latter happens to be the sum total of mining experience for most of the members of the mineral affairs portfolio committee).

And for those who don’t bubble back up to the surface, well, the Zuma camp has its Mbeki-loyalist parliamentary purge solved in one foul swoop — and the electoral list for the upcoming 2009 landslide can be realigned effortlessly.

It is only a matter of time before the president’s question time is ditched (a long overdue measure — it’s not like he was ever in the country to answer them) and replaced with Msholozi’s shower hour. That will be the day when Parliament is worth watching. Even if it’s only to see the size of his umshini.

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Capturing hearts and minds

In her latest weekly newsletter, Helen Zille is calling for parliament’s current session to be dissolved and elections to be held immediately.

On the face of it, it seems quite a good idea – as Zille says: “It is now clear that President Mbeki is a lame duck. He has failed to lead, failed to inspire and failed to offer hope. He has made it clear that his government will not accept responsibility for the very real crises facing our country.”

Yet should such a motion be successful it could hasten the demise of our fragile democracy, ushering in a one-party state. The reality of our current political situation is that the DA just doesn’t carry the clout to make significant electoral gains.

There’s nothing wrong with the party’s policies: as a proponent of the Basic Income Grant, of an equal opportunity society and of broad-based organic and sustainable social transformation it is light-years ahead of the ruling party in the field of ideas.

Yet despite its policies being infinitely more beneficial for South Africa in the long term, it faces a major perception crisis. Sadly it is believed to be uncooperative and belligerent (the constructive role it plays in the legislative process is invariably underreported in the media). It is perceived as only supporting minority group interests – simply because its prepared to fight for minority rights. It is perceived as a racist throwback, hankering after a privileged past. This image is significantly cemented by the demonisation of liberalism by those in the ANC who believe in the movement’s perpetual right to rule.

Instead of tabling a motion for an election, the DA should concentrate on positioning itself in the hearts and minds of ordinary South Africans as a viable moral alternative to the impending totalitarian nightmare that is the ANC.

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