We need to go back to value based politics by matthews bantsijang
We need to go back to value based politics By Matthews Bantsijang, PretoriaI am certain that I am echoing the views of many fellow citizens calling for restoration ofvalue based politics in this country. When we can take stock of our democracy, we willdiscover that we lost Mandela’s moral impact. We need to move from Class-Based toValue-Based Politics, unlike now Politicians fighting for power, instead of being serviceoriented. Presently people are tense as they are after money, property and are alwaystrying to fulfill their material needs. In this context it is important for young people to readholy books Ideal politics talks of some ideals like truthfulness, welfare of the people,faithfulness and oppose individual benefit. When the political parties or political leadersfollow the above- mentioned policies then their politics will be called value basedpolitics. But these days there is a negligence regarding the value-based politics isgenerally avoided. To acquire power, the political parties and political leaders do notmind ignoring the value-based politics. Corruption, forceful politics and the presence offorce, money and crime in politics are really harming the whole political system. There isa strong need to end the dirty politics. It should be noted that by following the value-based politics only the democratic aims can be fulfilled and by doing this, theestablishment of human welfare will also be possible. I would argue that the corrosiveimpact of this conflict has destroyed our institutions, affected our values and ideals andtorn our society apart, instead of a well balanced and functioning democracy, we havean angry society where hatred, jealousy, greed and selfishness are all too common. Oursociety has undergone this transformation incrementally, almost imperceptibly. In thispost apartheid period which offers unlimited opportunities and every reason for peopleand parties to come together to work towards a better future, we appear to be having tocontend with the residual impact of the trauma we have collectively endured.Maybe politics in this country today is following some of those countries where a bloodsport-governed by the rules of the slum — where the criminal underworld rules andwhere the scum of our society predominate. Politicians were for some years the patrons
of the scum but the wheel appears to have turned and the scum from the slums, withtheir values, have begun to lord it over the politicians. Some have even becomepoliticians. The form of politics that is found in the West, and which we have had in thiscountry until 1977 appears to have gone out of the window with the Constitution of1978, which created a constitutional dictatorship, but I hope that this is not forever.Political Parties in this country represent organised hatred. The blood sport could resultin a blood bath at the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections unless we dosomething about it.We need to create a framework for a just society, a compassionate society. The mosturgent and important need today is to usher in an age of cooperation and leave behindus the age of confrontation which has done immeasurable harm to this country; whilstother countries are galloping ahead we are moving backwards. The disease ofconfrontation has spread to all levels of our society. The politician is at the bottom ofthis; we must pull back from the abyss in our national interest. Our political parties mustlearn to coexist and make political cooperation an art form.Our political culture has become more and more based upon materialistic values, priorcommitment to supporting progressive social policies, has also diminished. Socialpolicies to transformed the societies into a model progressive “participatory democracy”are disappearing. There was a certain value placed on the community. Addressing thepoverty situation that prevailed was the first priority; to support the quality-of-living of ourcitizens inclusive of education, health care and food irrespective of personal access tofinancial resources.Maybe that we created a dependent society and in the process the people lost their selfconfidence and also a sense of responsibility; it is conceded that the peopleunfortunately came to depend on politicians for hand-outs and elections becameauctions, the party that offered the most was elected. The people did not feel, as a newage politician has stated, “that they could work positively towards changing their ownlives and the lives of their children and the community.” This nurse-maiding of thepeople killed their spirit, though it was a fundamentally humane approach to
development and human security. Our Democratic country was intended to be aprogressive, participatory democracy, but we have lost our way somewhere along theroad even though we talk of developmental state.The cancer of corruption is all pervasive. Politician could only contest at any level if theyare prepared to spend millions. Yes they spend millions to get elected and after thatuse their power to recoup their expenditure and to build a nest egg for the next electionand also for their generations to come. They have no compunction about using theiroffice to make money.The pith and substance of politics is no doubt the acquisition and exercise of power, butthose who wield power and those who aspire to power must understand that there arewritten and unwritten rules and common decency that must be adhered to at all times.The political culture of this country has been built on adversarial, confrontational politicswithout regard to the national interest. Our politicians have missed the wood for thetrees. This is the unfortunate tradition which we seem to want to perpetuate. Thecement that has held this form of confrontational politics together has been, the vulgarpursuit of political power, for with it goes the opportunity to mount the gravy train andget rich quickly. In the process have we not become a morally degenerated society?The future of all political parties should decide by the four main factors being politicswithout corruption, rooting out the hate culture, and promoting communal amity andgood governance. Our political leaders must come to terms with the fact that no politicalparty or group of politicians are forever and it is in their interest to think in terms of thegenerations to come; in this regard they need to perhaps refine and implement theprinciples that gave rise to the 17th Amendment and create independent statutoryinstitutions to enthrone good governance, democracy and the rule of law in this country.The two main political parties are both pledged to furthering a multi ethnic, multi-cultural,democratic political system. They both profess to pursuing ‘Free Market’ economicpolicies; their foreign policies are identical though this government lost its way on theinternational circuit in recent years through clumsy handling of our international relationsand certain domestic incidents, that were exploited by certain members of theinternational community; the social policies of the two main political parties are the
same; both parties are pledged to safeguarding our territorial integrity and sovereigntyof the country — they both accept the concept of devolution of power though there maybe differences regarding the extent of ‘devolution’; both parties have accepted that theminority communities should have a say in the deciding on their destiny and in thedestiny of the country which is theirs too.If he only seizes this opportunity he would certainly be remembered as one of thegreatest leaders this country has produced and not only because he saved this countryfrom being divided.As stated earlier, politics in the early years of our democracy was more value driven; thepolitician valued his self respect. That was a time when our politicians both of the ‘left‘and the ‘right’ would stand-up and defend unswerving commitments to civiccommitments. Such a cadre of politicians would stand-up for a core of such progressiveconvictions; defending areas of national sovereignty in general, irrespective of personalself-aggrandizement considerations. South Africa needs these values once again.