IT IS TIME TO START TALKING TO EACH OTHER (AGAIN)
Last Thursday was Freedom Day, the celebration of the birth of the “New South Africa” in 1994. But we are far away from the positive attitude and euphoria that were part of 27 April 1994. Instead, our country faces numerous serious challenges, amongst them the quality of leadership, corruption, state capture, racial polarisation, unemployment, poverty and inequality. Most importantly, many of these challenges are characterised by the lack of respect for our Constitution, or by lack of implementing the Constitution and its principles.
As the FW de Klerk Foundation, we are in full consensus with our fellow Foundations that our country is in a crisis, a crisis that can only be addressed if we start talking to each other again. We need to start a new National Dialogue. This National Dialogue will endeavour to bring together all South Africans at various levels, to have rational and deliberate discussions about the future we want and how we should get there. This will re-establish the truth that our future is in our own hands. We are in full agreement with the other Foundations that our National Dialogue takes as its point of departure our Constitution, the Rule of Law and our constitutional democracy. The Constitution has been our salvation in trying times - despite attempts to challenge and dismiss it. The Constitution’s fortitude is supreme and speaks to the strength of South Africans to re-emerge per the spirit of the document.
The present mobilisation of South Africans mostly has one goal - to get rid of President Zuma. Our view is that the National Foundations Dialogue Initiative (NFDI) is and should be about more than that. It should envisage what should happen in a post-Zuma era to get the country back on its constitutional and non-racial path. As Foundations, we agree the broad framework for this future - the Constitution and the National Development Plan. We also believe that a National Dialogue at all levels is the only way to achieve a consensus on the solutions to this future. We understand that there will be some issues where it would be difficult to find consensus, but that does not detract from the need to have the Dialogue.
The FW de Klerk Foundation commits itself to participating in this National Dialogue with an open and positive mind, with the Constitution as its framework. We believe that the time has come to start talking to each other again.
By Dr Theuns Eloff, Executive Director