Multi-party convention ‘has to be about the people'

Multi-party convention ‘has to be about the people'

Opposition parties at the national multi-party convention say they intend to put South Africans above pettiness and ego during the next two days.

'Historic' multi-party talks kick-off in Gauteng
Twitter: @Our_DA

Party leaders from the Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, Freedom Front Plus, ActionSA, Independent South African National Civic Organisation (ISANCO, United Independent Movement, and Spectrum National Party gathered at  Kempton Park on Wednesday.

The convention aims to form a working relationship between the party, which they hope will allow them to unseat the ANC during the general elections in 2024.  

The talks are being held at Emperor’s Palace, where negotiations to pave the future of South Africa first took place through the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA).

It was initially dubbed the ‘Moonshot Pact’ by DA leader John Steenhuisen when he announced the initiative during his victory speech at the party’s national congress in April.

Delivering his opening address on Wednesday, Steenhuisen said the discussions are about the people of South Africa.

"The outcome of these negotiations must be judged based on whether they provide concrete solutions to improve the lives of the South African people. For that to be the case, this cannot and must not be a purely anti-ANC project. It must be a pro-South African project.

“Tomorrow evening when this process is complete, judge the politicians sitting here on whether the outcome promises tangible improvements to your life. Ask whether we are collectively providing solutions to issues like unemployment, load shedding, and crime.

“If the answer is yes – if these parties emerge with an agreement not only to defeat the ANC but to rescue South Africa – then I ask that you judge it as a success," said Steenhuisen.

Prof William Gumede, who is chairing the discussions, encouraged party leaders to rise above egos and squabbles.

"It is going to be important that they rise above petty squabbles, rise above egos, and every decision they make has to be in the best interest of South Africa. It has to be for the future of all of us and for those still to be born.”

IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa echoed these sentiments, saying the gathering concerns South Africa and its people.

"This is not an anti-ruling party club. Our reason for convening here is much more important, we do not hate the ANC, but we hate what it has done to our people.

“After years of struggling, in 1994, the people of South Africa stood in long queues to cast their votes. I was one of them. We were full of hope that our country is entering a new phase of freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately, all our hopes are now lost," said Hlabisa.

ActionSA President, Herman Mashaba said the lived realities of South Africans brought his party to the convention.

“ANC will lose its majority, and all South Africans know this, but they have never seen opposition parties putting aside differences to give them hope. We must define this agreement with a positive vision for South Africa, not against other political parties.”

At the same time, Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald asked the parties to set an example by paving a way forward to help to save South Africa.

"I don't think there is anyone in South Africa who will not agree that we are not at a good point in the history of our country. There must be change," said Groenewald.


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