United Democratic Movement (UDM) president Bantu Holomisa is calling for a multiparty national convention to break the impasse the country is in.
He is proposing that all parties, including civil society, could thrash out a common vision for the future of South Africa at this convention.
“South Africa is at a crossroads and is in urgent need of visionary leadership who provide guidance in finding lasting solutions to the challenges we face.
“The uprisings, as expressed through peaceful marches, reflect a deep-seated frustration about the direction the country is taking,” he said on Tuesday.
The UDM leader added that the recent spate of marches calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down could not succeed as a solo tactic.
“When South Africans marched under the leadership of the opposition parties at the National Day of Action on April 12, I advised that we cannot march forever, but that we must find a way to converge under one roof to discuss South Africa’s future.
“The UDM is of the view that we must find a vehicle that will provide a safe space for all stakeholders, irrespective of political affiliation, to assemble and hammer out a common future vision for South Africa that is binding on all,” Holomisa said.
This is the first time a South African politician has proposed such a convention since the pre- 1994 multiparty democratic negotiations.
Holomisa, who was then Transkei’s military ruler, played a key role in brokering solutions at those talks in cooperation with the ANC.
He had told the opposition parties that solutions should be found to the current challenges in the country.
“A new vision, as mentioned earlier, should in practical terms respond to burning issues such as land, economy, employment, corruption, good governance, education, health, review of our electoral system, party funding and others,” Holomisa said.
Holomisa said a relatively small group of about 800 000 ANC members were effectively holding the entire nation ransom.
In an apparent reference to Zuma, he said the ruling party not only often supported bad policy choices, but was also defending one individual who lacked what was required for responsible leadership.
As result of the ANC’s inaction, the country had slipped even further and there was apparently no hope the party would ever provide the type of leadership that could change that.
Holomisa suggested that South Africans from all walks of life should get together as soon as possible to craft a new vision for their nation.
The process should achieve a prosperous country for future generations.
“This should not only culminate in a roadmap for extracting us from this ANC-made quagmire, but one that will result in a prosperous future for our people,” he said.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said the idea of a national convention was long overdue. He said it would begin a process of national dialogue around important issues that would take the country forward.
“A national convention is a good idea. It removes the notion that some care for the country and others don’t.
“Also, it will help to start a national conversation about the future of the country, while it contributes to nation building and national unity,” Fikeni said.
The initiative would take the focus off Zuma and his political shenanigans and put it on an appropriate national agenda, he added.