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A new dawn for South Africa

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OPINION: Anyone thinking an easy task lies ahead for the government of national unity is dreaming, writes Douglas Gibson.

File picture: Pixabay

By Douglas Gibson

PROUD South Africans, like me, feel a new sense of hope and optimism about the future of our country. I feel better about SA than I have done ever since I arrived back from Thailand and discovered the deterioration that had set in under President Jacob Zuma.

The ANC surprised many with its gracious and democratic manner in accepting its rejection by former supporters. And the DA lived up to its promise of doing everything it could to prevent a Coalition of Doom between the ANC, uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) and EFF.

Anyone thinking an easy task lies ahead for the Government of National Unity (GNU) is dreaming. Almost every aspect of the government, at every level, has got worse, not better, over the past 15 years. That is why many voters rejected the ANC. There is huge dissatisfaction about having the highest unemployment rate in the world, and all the other ills that have received so much publicity during the election campaign.

One hopes the ANC, DA and IFP Cabinet ministers, to be appointed soon, will be the best people available. We do not need more airtime for the collection of ageing people, some of them incompetent and many dogged by allegations of dishonesty, who survived in office during the past government.

DA ministers, in particular, might struggle to obtain the full co-operation of senior civil servants in their assigned departments. Some of the officials, by no means all, are not up to the posts they fill, and it is essential that if the GNU is to deliver improved services to the public, the ministers and officials must be able to work together to achieve the aims of the GNU as spelt out in the Framework Agreement. The agreement makes it clear that stability, protection of the Constitution and a focus on growth and employment are the essentials for the next five years.

Many voters must be amazed at the turn of events. Who would ever have believed that Tony Leon’s tiny 1.7% Democratic Party of 1994 would be in a governing coalition today? Some misguided observers, such as Prof Sipho Seepe, have condemned the GNU as an anti-black move. That is, of course, mere untruthful propaganda. The prof and people like him cannot explain how it is that around three-quarters of DA support in the election came from voters who are not white.

Zuma has yet to convince SA that he understands democracy and that the MKP can provide effective parliamentary oversight over the GNU. EFF leader Julius Malema, after promising that his party would become the second party in SA, lost votes, support and seats, and was pushed into fourth place, characteristically flip-flopped on the GNU.

At the last gasp, he offered to support President Cyril Ramaphosa in return for being given the Speaker post in Parliament. The next day, after being told he could not be given a tawdry deal like that, he had himself nominated as a candidate for president, lost badly and then got his mini-me, Floyd Shivambu, to move a motion about impeaching the newly elected president. Malema must surely be losing clout with his supporters who are forced to see him as a pretentious wannabee who does not and never will be able to deliver on his wild and ridiculous policies and promises.

We have entered a new era; that of coalition politics at every level. It works in many countries in the world. There is no reason why it should fail in SA if we resolve to take hands and work together in the interests of this country and our wonderful people.

* Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand.

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