THE tone of our political discourse in South Africa is no doubt cause for concern among many of us.
Given, too, that we are now entering a new term of local government, it may also be appropriate to stop and reflect on the current state of affairs in our country.
I, like many other South Africans, have on more than one occasion contemplated leaving the country to seek a better, safer future abroad.
The irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric of the Julius Malemas of the world do not help to ease the situation in any way.
The commentary by Justice Malala in The Times on Monday puts an excellent perspective on the current situation, and is cause for some serious introspection and also cause for continued, albeit cautious optimism.
I have been speaking to many of my associates, friends and colleagues on both sides of the political spectrum, and can confirm there is a growing feeling that the majority of people are reaching their limit with respect to the racial and intolerant slant that seems to be tainting our current political discourse.
I believe the time has come for all moderate South Africans to make a real effort to reel the country back from the brink, back to the spirit of mutual respect and co-operation that characterised the pre-1994 negotiated settlement and the early years of democracy in South Africa.
It sometimes appears that as a country, we seem unable to steer away from the brink of disaster but also that, once we have peered into the political abyss, we display a resilience in being able to bounce back and do the right thing.
The right thing now is for everyone to take a step back and for a serious assessment to be done about the way we are doing things.
Local government is but a starting point.
For the sake of our metro, we cannot continue doing things the same way.
We need to start working together for the sake of our city and all its residents.
I have been involved in local government for a short time and cannot bear the thought of another five years of banging heads in council and committee which serves no purpose and does little to improve the lives of our people.
Ideas and policy should be driven on the basis of what is good for the city and not merely defeated because the ideas did not come from a particular party. Ideas and policy should be judged and voted for on their merit and whether they will be good for the city.
Over the coming term, I will be doing whatever I can to encourage this within my circle of influence and would seriously encourage all like-minded colleagues and fellow South Africans to consider doing the same.
We cannot allow the political landscape to be corrupted by a few populist demagogues who chase their own narrow agendas at the cost of our shared future. If we keep quiet or if we leave, we abdicate our future to those who would fill the vacuum created by lack of interest and apathy.
As a country we can do – have to do – better.
Dean Biddulph, DA councillor, Port Elizabeth