Country should be run as a business, says TVRA leader

From left are TVRA vice-chairwoman Mandy da Matta, TVRA chairman Andile Peter and Stop COCT activist Sandra Dickson.

A single civic movement – which appoints managing directors on merit, not ministers for their struggle credentials – can save South Africa from its plight, where citizens pay for politicians’ graft.

This was the vision outlined by Table View Ratepayers’ Association (TVRA) chairman Andile Peter at the association’s annual general meeting last week.

Mr Peter calls it the “One Voice” concept and says it can bring the country back from the brink, he says it has been brought to by greedy politicians looking out for their own interests.

Mr Peter told the meeting at the Kingsgate church in Table View on Tuesday June 12 that the country should be run as a business if it was to prosper.

“We shouldn’t have ministers but instead have MDs who are employed on merit not because they were in exile,” he said.

Ratepayers were paying the price for corruption, he said, referring to the recent 1% Vat increase.

“We cannot blame the past. The past has nothing to do with what is happening now. What is happening currently is something to do with greed.

“To be a minister, mayor or councillor, you are supposed to have a helicopter view of what is happening in your department. How can you have a councillor who does not own a house? Who does not pay rates? He won’t be able to understand our challenges as ratepayers.

“Politics is about the survival of the fittest. Everyone is looking out for themselves. Next year we’ll have another mayor who will perform worse. We’ll have another president who will perform worse,” he said.

He said if he could come up with the funding, he would make his dream of one civic movement a reality. A civic movement, he said, that would “challenge political parties” until they were no longer in power.

One resident said the One Voice concept could gain traction, but TVRA vice chairperson Mandy da Mata said it could only happen after a “tipping point”, with enough people wanting the new system. And that, she said, would need a, “fundamental paradigm shift”.

“There is a vehicle to call a referendum, like we had in 1994, where the will of the people would have to be recognised and these vehicles are going to be your ratepayers’ associations and civic organisations. The One Voice concept is plausible,” she said.

Sandra Dickson, from Stop City of Cape Town (COCT), was a guest speaker at the meeting.

She has helped to stream thousands of comments to the City of Cape Town in campaigns around the drought charge, the water amendment by-law and land expropriation among others.

She created the Facebook page Stop COCT and the website Dear Cape Town which, she said, worked with each other to drive her campaigns.

“It should not be us versus them. It should be about collaborative decision making,” said Ms Dickson about public participation and how it influenced government decisions.

She spoke about the importance of citizens knowing how to use laws such as the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) and the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

She said social media was great at “organising people at grass-root level” but admitted she was grappling with how to involve people who didn’t have Facebook.

She said the Facebook group Stop COCT drove traffic to the Dear Cape Town website.

“I wanted a simple website that didn’t bombard you with ads,” said Ms Dickson.

She said the Facebook page was a success because she kept the focus on City of Cape Town matters.

“Any posts about your cat is an absolute no no.”

Going forward, she wants to forge more partnerships and get more people involved. “The answers are not going to come from politicians; they’re going to come from us,” she said.