South Africans Want Dialogue, but it Must Lead to Action

After six weeks of running The People’s Dialogue, the response by South Africans has been overwhelming. Since the launch of the campaign on 6 December 2019, over 13.7 million South Africans have been reached across various social media platforms, resulting in close to 1 million engagements with people who are expressing their views on the future of our Country.

The message coming from the people has been clear. Dialogue is important, but only if it is linked to action, and providing a political alternative to the system that has failed us so fundamentally. This is why I will be shifting the Dialogue over the remaining six weeks of the campaign as we ask South Africans to take part in shaping a new political alternative for our Country.

Over the past 6 weeks, we have seen an overwhelming number of South Africans not only voicing their concerns about our future, but equally presenting solutions to our greatest challenges. Their inputs have been considerable, based in a belief that we can fix our country if we work together.

To emphasise this point, today I am releasing the Interim Report of The People’s Dialogue to provide high-level insights into the thousands of submissions we have received to date. Some of the key findings in the report are as follows:

  • 14 broad themes were identified based on the submissions  received, including (in alphabetical order): corruption, crime & justice, the economy, education, the environment, Eskom (power production), governance, healthcare, housing, immigration, land reform, the political system, race & racism and other social issues.
  • The terms “politics,” “political” and “politician” are used a combined 3,359 times in the submissions, which indicates that South Africans hold strong opinions over the current state of politics in South Africa, as well as on the political system. 
  • South Africans are unhappy with their political leaders, and one the more surprising outcomes of this dialogue is the wide-spread support for electoral reform. Citizens believe they should have more say in directly electing their representatives, as opposed to the party-list system.
  • The word-cloud below captures the recurring themes and issues:

South Africans clearly hold an inherent distrust of our current political system and parties. In 2019, 53% of our voting-age population did not vote. This is not because there are not serious problems in our country, but because most people in South Africa do not believe our political establishment will improve their lives. The need for an alternative that speaks to voters who have lost faith in the system is clear.

As such, the focus of The People’s Dialogue will not be on asking how South Africans would like such a political alternative to tackle key issues including jobs & the economy, illegal immigration, crime, corruption, education and fixing our broken political system. 

Today we will begin with the first of these discussions, focussing on how we can grow our economy and create jobs in South Africa. We are starting with this discussion because the future of our country depends on this above any other issue. I look forward to engaging South Africans from all walks of life on this critical challenge. The launch video can be seen here:

In shaping a new political alternative, we want the voices of ordinary South Africans, together with that of civil society, to be front and centre. This movement will be like no other as politicians will be taking a backseat for change. 

Over the next few weeks, I will continue the work of engaging fellow South Africans who love their country and believe in its potential, to forge a way forward towards a better future. I have already been in consultation with a number of like-minded South Africans who share my desire to fix our Country. They give me hope that this important project can, and will, succeed.

I will also continue to ignore the attacks of politicians, who have failed this country, and feel threatened by a movement which is listening to the people of South Africa and forging solutions in partnership with them. 

In the face of the constant negativity we experience, we will find the solutions that are needed for South Africa to be the country it was destined to be in 1994. 

Download the Interim Report

Issued by:

Herman Mashaba
The People’s Dialogue