Sunday, February 07, 2010

Let Afrikaners help to solve SA's problems

Another View

Feb 7, 2010 12:00 AM | By Jan Bosman

Another View: The time has come for constructive talks about the future of our country, writes Jan Bosman

JOINING UP: Jacob Zuma with a voter at a white squatter camp west of Pretoria Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
JOINING UP: Jacob Zuma with a voter at a white squatter camp west of Pretoria Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

In his excellent article " How can the nation become rich with poor ideas?" (January 2), William Gumede wrote: "Ultimately we now need communities, government, political parties, businesses, organised labour and civil society to sit down and cobble together a new covenant - a new Codesa, charting a new direction for South Africa. Talented individuals outside the ANC must be brought in to help govern us out of these crises. Such a pact must prioritise core strategic policies, which all can rally around."

Gumede's premise, which we support, is that South Africa is in trouble. The evidence is in service-delivery protests, the collapse of infrastructure, a drop in the standard of education, escalating corruption, crime, xenophobia and so on. These problems are the result of government policies that are either poorly executed, or non-existent due to incompetence and a lack of skills, and the ANC policy of redeployment (recirculating bad managers).

Afrikaners want to offer their experience, skills and knowledge to help find solutions, so as to bring back the miracle envisaged by Mandela and De Klerk.

It was encouraging before and during the 2009 election campaign that the ANC leadership reached out to minority groups and had discussions with, among others, Afrikaners. Jacob Zuma took the lead. This was a breath of fresh air as, unfortunately, Thabo Mbeki often caused Afrikaners to feel like spectators in their own country.

Maybe the biggest problem, as we perceive it, is that our constitution is interpreted in various ways. The ANC, for instance, uses the constitution as a tool for implementing race-based policies, expropriating land without fair compensation and forcing universities and schools to adopt English.

We differ from this approach. We believe a new social contract or covenant can define the spirit and intent of the constitution.

A social contract will level the playing field so that Afrikaners can continue living and working here. Most Afrikaners want to contribute in some way to South Africa. Our history dates back more than 300 years. We are part of Africa, we are proud South Africans, and we are here to stay!

Maybe the time has come for constructive talks about the future of our country.

There are three basic points to be considered in such discussions:

Firstly: the rights of minorities must be balanced with the rights of the majority. Although the government shies away from the word "minorities", we need debate about how these rights can be protected. One of these rights is the language of instruction.

On January 10, Angie Motshekga, the minister of basic education, was quoted in the Sunday Times as saying that poor English skills were the major factor in last year's miserable matric results. She said that most pupils had to study in English although it was not their home language, and that those whose second language was English had trouble expressing themselves.

This is an acknowledgement that the government's policy to enforce teaching in English has failed. But what is even more shocking is that Motshekga's solution to the problem is to introduce the language from Grade R. To force English on pupils is not the answer. For too long our pupils and our education system have been gambled with, and every year we see the results.

Our endeavours to ensure the existence of Afrikaans universities is not an effort to promote a white enclave. This can never happen, as the majority of Afrikaans speakers are not white. It is a sincere effort to promote Afrikaans as a language of instruction.

In his article "Afrikaners set a fine example in championing their language" (January 24), Mondli Makhanya wrote: "We are heading for a situation where indigenous languages are spoken only by the working classes who, for aspirational reasons, are also beginning to mimic the middle classes. Government carries much of the blame as it pays only lip service to language equality."

We share Makhanya's opinion, but the sad truth is that the government has failed miserably in promoting all languages.

In July 2007 the cabinet decided that government departments had to make all documents available in the 11 official languages. This has not happened.

Secondly: discussions on a new social contract must consider a growing economy that can guarantee jobs. It must be an economy in which everyone's potential can be fully realised, everyone is included, and no one is discriminated against.

In our discussions with the government and the ANC we have proposed a sunset clause for affirmative action and black economic empowerment. These policies make a mockery of the intention to affirm black South Africans. Carte Blanche exposed power provider Eskom for unprocedurally recruiting African Americans so it could reach quotas.

Thirdly, there must be a commitment to high-quality governance at all levels.

Service delivery is failing due to lost expertise, basic incompetence, corruption and nepotism. This is evidenced in a report by the auditor-general that only 35% of government entities passed the audit procedure.

South Africa is Africa's last chance to prove that there is hope for the continent. The skills are here, the ideas are here.

The social contract as suggested by Gumede can be the beginning of a partnership to renew trust and build a joint future.

  • Bosman is managing director of the Afrikanerbond

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Dream on boet. The only time they'll need the Afrikaners' help is when the ship is truly sunk and they need a life-line. They'll just use them once again and then the minute things are going ok again, bam - you're out! Repeat this cycle until Jesus comes.

Anonymous said...

As a secondary school teacher, who has also taught primary (due to lack of staff), I have always supported Bantu Education for the way in which Primary ed. was at least in mother tongue, allowing a bridge between mastering one language, before attempting secondary ed. in another language! Nowadays, children can't even speak their own language properly before they are told to learn in a second language.