It is a silly season as far as manifestos go and it is also a period where people are being taken for ride. Here are my minimum demands for the party that needs my vote:
1. Free education. And free education here does not mean the kind of education that our students receive in the townships. Free public education should become the envy of all and there should be minimum standards for a well resourced school. education should become the pride of the nation Teachers should be well remunerated and well trained. And schools should be well resourced and if parents want to contribute to the resourcefulness of the school they should be allowed to do so. Tertiary education should also be free or at least every student who meets the minimum requirements of getting tertiary education should be assured of a study loan and there should be bursaries for top students.
2. Free Health care. Being healthy should not depend on how fat your bank balance is at payday. Every hobo should be able to go to any doctor or hospital of his choice to receive quality health care. We should not be at the mercy of medical aid companies who are making millions on a daily basis but are giving us with appalling service.
Imagine a situation where as a parent you know that your taxes are going towards paying for your kid’s education and towards their health care. It is my belief that once these two basic rights are taken care of then we have better things to worry about. Quality health care and quality education should not be for the rich.
3. Creation of a Ministry to deal with rural development issues. The departments of Land Affairs and Agriculture have failed in the last 15 years in the implementation of land reform and this is largely as a result of their divergent policies. A single ministry of Rural Development which will cater for the needs of subsistence farmers, small scale farmers and commercial farmers should be created. This ministry should also play a significant role in the formulation of development plans of local authorities. It will be a cross cutting ministry that will not only focus on agriculture but also on other development issues like access services for rural areas.
4. Abolishment of provinces. Resources should be diverted to local government as it is the part of government that interfaces with people on the ground. Provinces should just be administrative bodies with regional administrators being the interface between national government and local government. In this way it would be easy for national government to intervene in provinces like the Eastern Cape where there has been no delivery over the past 15 years and the fights we are witnessing in the Western Cape between parties would be a thing of the past. There will also be a huge cut in the bureaucratic red tape we are currently seeing with these layers and layers of government.
5. Streamlining the public service for effective service delivery. Public servants should be answerable to parliament and not politicians. They should be able to tell a politician that “sir, what you are asking for cannot be done unless you change the legislation”. The mandate of public servants should therefore derive from parliament and only parliament should rubber stamp the removal or swapping of senior civil servants (more like what is currently happening with the NPA saga where parliament has the last say on whether Vusi Pikoli should be fired or not-mind you the ANC will not always enjoy the majority it is currently enjoying and parliament will be a real watch dog for the interests of the people). The saga of the swapping of the DG’s of Correctional Services and Sports will also not have happened
The only party that comes close to meeting my minimum demands is the PAC. Their election manifesto comes close on the issue of education, creation of the ministry of rural development and the abolishment of provinces. But am I willing to waste my vote and vote for a party that cannot get its house in order? That is a real tough question….The other party that comes close is AZAPO as far as the abolishing of provinces is concerned. Do I also want to vote for a party which a week after launching its election manifesto it is not available. I have requested them directly to send me their manifesto but they are still looking into it. The issue on provinces I heard from news clippings, one is yet to see their manifesto. And AZAPO in my view is slowly morphing into the ANC and very soon it will be difficult to notice the difference.
The ANC, COPE, DA, UDM have very similar manifestos with the only difference being emphasis on one issue over the other. In my view they are not bringing anything new to the table and I do not see myself voting for them. Theirs is a song that has been sung over the past 15 years and in my view their policies benefit the elite in society.
So this leaves me with a very difficult choice to make….do I vote for either AZAPO or the PAC, two parties who have shown their ineffectiveness over the years and who have not used their presence in parliament to any good effect or do I go for one of those parties who are singing the same song but would have us believe that theirs is a different song. Or do I go the third option and not vote at all. Maybe I should vote UDM because Bantu seems the most honest politician of the lot…..hhhhmmm...decision, decision…..MY VOTE IS UP FOR GRABS, ANYONE….