Jos Kuper's picture

Dr Mamphela Ramphele has announced her entry into the political arena and intention to contest the 2014 general elections.

In her speech on February 18 at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, Ramphele raised many issues where she felt that South Africa was falling well short of its potential and where the government was failing its people.

If one looks at a futurefact survey that earlier questioned South Africans about their views on many of the issues she raised, one finds a lot of overlap.

The company has been surveying the attitudes and beliefs of South Africans since 1998, and findings on the issues Ramphele raised are from the research website’s 2012 survey.

They are based on a probability sample of 2 946 adults aged 15 years and older, except in communities of fewer than 500 people.

Our consultations and conversations across the lengths and breadths of our nation have confirmed a hunger for a new beginning.

Young and old, poor and rich, men and women, urban and rural people are yearning for a political platform that can put our nation first, capture the best in us and enable us to transcend our divided past and work together as a society united in our diversity.

A total of 61% believe the ANC-led government is moving away from the democratic principles they fought so hard to implement, while only 10% disagree. The rest are unsure.

More than eight in 10 express a concern about the lack of a strong opposition in Parliament.

The vast majority believe we can’t keep blaming the past for all our problems and that our social and cultural diversity is a major advantage for the nation.

Our nation is at risk because self-interest has become the driver of many of those in positions of authority who, instead, should be focused on serving the public.

An unchecked culture of impunity and the abuse of power as well as public resources rob children, young people, rural and urban poor people of the fruits of freedom.

Corruption, nepotism and patronage have become the hallmarks of the conduct of many in public service.

South Africans have reached a point of despair about corruption.

Six in 10 people say: “Corruption levels are so high in South Africa that I have lost hope about stopping it” and, dangerously for our national moral code, almost a third of us are asking: “If other people are benefiting from corruption, why shouldn’t I also benefit?”.

But there is still a clear belief held by about three-quarters of South Africans that government officials found guilty of corruption and crime should never be allowed to hold office again.

It is appalling to learn that an estimated 71% of South Africans in the 15-34 age group – who make up 60% of our population – are not participating in the economy, and are instead forced to accept the humiliating substitute of social grants.

Eight out of every 10 adults who are unemployed fear that they “might never get a job”.

Seven out of 10 believe that the government is not doing enough to create jobs and half, or five out of 10, say they are prepared to work for a lower wage just to have a job or some income while three out of 10 reported: “I have given up trying to find a job”.

Our society’s greatness is being fundamentally undermined by a massive failure of governance.

More than seven out of 10 South Africans feel abandoned by a government they believe “shows little concern for what its citizens think of it”.

They say once people are elected to high office, they are interested only in themselves.

About 80% would like to see “the emergence of a really strong leader who would re-establish order and discipline”.

This article appeared in City Press - 3 March 2013