Thu. Jun 20th, 2019

Patricia de Lille op-ed: South Africa deserves a Good Future

Patricia de Lille South Africa“We must rescue the country and we need your support to get our country back on to a good path.”

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheSouthAfrican.com.

Margaret Thatcher said she was in politics because of her belief that good will ultimately triumph in the conflict between good and evil. I have that same belief.  Although the struggle for freedom was long, good prevailed. I fought against apartheid, oppression, intolerance and corruption in South Africa and was proud to work alongside Nelson Mandela and other great leaders in drafting our new Constitution following the Nationalist government’s defeat.

Unfortunately, racial nationalism is rising across the world once again.  Nelson Mandela said that “a good head and good heart are always a formidable combination”.  In May 2019, South Africans living abroad will be able to vote in our national election and must ensure they are registered to vote (www.elections.org.za). I appeal to each South African to vote. We are good people. We deserve a good country.

I grew up in a small town. My father, a teacher,
instilled in me the value of service to society. Our family was classified as “coloured” and we were relegated to a township for coloured people.  But some of my uncles, classified as “white”,
were separated from us. We never saw them again.  Different racial groups were forbidden from socialising
during apartheid. Such cruel racial classifications ripped many South African families
apart. 

I am proud to have fought against apartheid and to
have helped draft our Constitution that committed us to a non-racial
future.  This year we celebrate a quarter
of a century under democracy with equal rights for all.  Like many others, I assumed Apartheid’s cruel
separate development principles had ended.

Unfortunately the apartheid National Party merged
with the Democratic Party some years ago. Describing their internal agonies as
a result of the merger, the previous opposition leader Helen Zille concluding
that to stay true to a common set of principles “is a continuous battle (that)
is never finally won
”.  These words
were prophetic.

Watching the rise of the nationalists has been
like witnessing the slow death of a child – tough to recognise and unbelievably
difficult to accept.  Campaigning on the election
promise of addressing the legacy of apartheid that is still so strong in our
society, we achieved overwhelming support in the 2016 local government
elections that I led in Cape Town.  We
restructured the City administration, allocated more resources for services in black
and coloured townships and achieved record housing delivery. Most critically,
we drove a strong programme for inclusive, equitable development.

The regressive direction the Democratic Alliance

Unfortunately, these changes did not align with the regressive direction the Democratic Alliance (DA) began to take. A group of young, white reactionaries within the party blocked proposals to more strongly acknowledge the importance of racial diversity, and in several cities opposed integrated urban development projects.

The apartheid National Party leader is recorded
as convincing his party leadership that they could survive in the new South
Africa by engineering a takeover of the Democratic Party from within. Zille warned
that the National Party’s “survival strategy was to help create the DA and
then use it to entrench and extend, rather than rethink and reform”
their
culture, allowing them to advance their ethnic nationalism and racial
mobilization principles. 

After the merger, the Nats used well established apartheid-era tactics to remove progressive individuals who opposed their views – smear campaigns, leaked faked documents and “commissions” that, without any evidence or legal outcome, allowed baseless allegations to be publically probed under a guise of authenticity. These tactics were used against me too. A cabal within the party established a commission, headed by a white party member with only a grade 12 qualification, to investigate me.  Forged documents were leaked to the press. Despite my and a court order request for the alleged evidence behind the smears, the DA refused to provide it. Days before the court was due to force them to release their information in support of their allegations, the DA rescinded the commission’s report.

In this and related cases during this smear campaign, the courts ruled in my favour all three times, and awarded me costs. These judgements were a significant victory; proving that the judiciary upholds our Constitution and protects the equal rights of all citizens.  So many gave their lives to see the protection of simple justice, due process and equitable treatment for all. It is a relief that the apartheid-era tricks no longer work as rights can no longer be selectively applied.

Racial divisiveness and protection of privilege

Despite this reassuring evidence of an
independent judiciary, we still have a lot of work to do to undo the legacy of centuries of
racial oppression, exclusion and privilege. 
My experience in national, provincial and local government left me alarmed
at the corruption, racial divisiveness and protection of privilege that the old
political parties are endorsing.

I resigned
from the DA last year, I was replaced with a former National Party member who
promoted several other former national party members to lead the city.  They have openly
acknowledged that they will work to undo what we had been achieving. 

I refuse to
allow my country to go back down this divisive road.  We must rescue the country and we need your
support to get our country back on to a good path. Please support us.

Patricia de Lille is South Africa’s famous anti-corruption whistle-blower, was the longest-serving Mayor of Cape Town, the first politician to establish a government desk for racism complaints, and is currently the leader of www.forgood.org.za.

South Africans living overseas should note

  • A
    registration weekend for overseas voters is taking place from the 1st
    to 4th February 2019.
  • Overseas
    voters can register to vote during office hours at SA foreign missions.
  • They
    do not need to re-register of they are already registered. Check your
    registration status at www.elections.org.za

Citizens must bring BOTH a valid South Africa passport and your ID book or ID smart card

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