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Another Voice: Elections are conversations about ourselves

Lorenzo A Davids writes that we dare not fall asleep at the wheel of shaping the national narrative of what we want in 2024. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.

Lorenzo A Davids writes that we dare not fall asleep at the wheel of shaping the national narrative of what we want in 2024. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.

Published Apr 11, 2022

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The 2024 national elections should be the national conversation for the next two years.

Nothing should distract us from having the most robust, informed and intelligent dialogues about who should be the people to lead us after April 2024.

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The television and print media debates should start now. Leaving it until January 2024 is a sure-fire way to deliver the same outcomes as before – an uninterrogated and predictable outcome.

South Africans, when in protest about their poverty, are a different group of people from South Africans when they display loyalty to political parties.

The psychological disconnect between poverty, prosperity and politics is most profound when people stand in front of a ballot box. A loaf of bread, a T-shirt and a handshake from a politician can dull all senses when it comes to elections.

And there is little hope that this will ever change. Therefore, the media has a huge role to play in being informative and not sycophantic.

The ANC spent 30 years in exile. By 2024 they will have been governing South Africa for 30 years.

Who and where are the fresh faces of our democracy? Where are the 25-30-year-old South Africans willing to stand for public office? They need to be profiled now, and their narratives shared to see if it resonates with the electorate.

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Traditional format political interviews and televised debates have become a dull affair.

I hope that by January 2024, there will be a solid independent citizens’ movement that is not contesting the elections but leading the national conversation about what voters require from candidates to build a respectful, just, equitable, inclusive, and safe prosperous South Africa for all.

Given the vested financial and political interests of business in South Africa and its poor understanding of what is required to build a new national discourse that moves this country out of racialised poverty and inequity, this citizens’ movement should hold both business leaders and political candidates accountable for the policies they support in 2024.

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There are at least 10 national priorities that must be part of this national citizens’ movement’s accountability dialogues.

These include new approaches to housing, food security, energy generation, public transport, basic education, safety, gangs and crime, income generation (employment creation), climate change, international human rights and the rule of law.

If intelligently embraced in 2024, each of these issues could unlock billions of rand in revenue earned for South Africa.

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Changing the lives of poor people is not only the domain of the Department of Social Development. Improving people's lives in South Africa must become the primary transversal obligation of the 20 departments that make up the government’s economic cluster.

In addition, in 2024, we need to see less political opulence. I hope we develop a publicly displayed disdain and nausea for the current opulence of politicians.

We need to see politicians who live, school and shop among us. The political class must step out of the inoculated bubbles of inertia they live in. They must experience the real everyday life of ordinary South Africans.

Most voters are still seduced by big cars, blue lights and suits. It is here that the task of citizen engagement is most needed to deconstruct these fictional and cartoonish narratives of leadership. Thirty years ago today, we were in the throes of electioneering. It was two weeks to the elections. Today we have two years to the elections.

We dare not fall asleep at the wheel of shaping the national narrative of what we want from our elected representatives in 2024. We must start the 2024 national elections today as a conversation in our homes, offices, coffee shops and on our trains, buses and taxis.

Every home, village, town and city must become a conversation space about the future of our country. We should know what the important election conversations are long before the candidates put their faces on posters.

* Lorenzo A Davids.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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