Politics is the art of living together

How dreadfully we fail in Oudtshoorn

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Drewan Baird. Oudtshoorn. 30 October 2013. 00h01. A foremost relational Calvinist, Johannes Althusius (1557–1638) published his Systematic Analysis of Politics in 1603 and redefined politics with these opening words:

Politics is the art of associating men for the purpose of establishing, cultivating, and conserving social life among them.

Althusius followed with this powerful statement of human interdependence:

Truly, in living this life no man is self-sufficient, or adequately endowed by nature. For when he is born, destitute of all help, naked and defenceless…he is cast forth into the hardships of this life, not able by his own efforts to reach a maternal breast, nor to endure the harshness of his condition… Nor in his adulthood is he able…to provide by his own energies all the requirements of life… As long as he remains isolated and does not mingle in the society of men, he cannot live at all comfortably and well while lacking so many necessary and useful things. An aid and remedy for this state of affairs is offered him in symbiotic life. He is led, and almost impelled, to embrace it if he wants to live comfortably and well, even if he merely wants to live.

Good stuff, despite my contemn of Calvin and his lot.

Politics is the art of living together.

How dreadfully we fail a high calling in Oudtshoorn.

The scrap has become risible but for goss and malevolence.

Here is the Oudtshoorn reality.

For the considerable future about half of Oudtshoorn would vote DA aligned in protest of the ANC; and half ANC alligned in protest of the DA. People in Oudtshoorn vote not for something, but against something. Generally.

Therefore the 2011 result was 11 ANC; 11 DA; 1 Cope; 1 Icosa; and 1 NPP.

The claim of the veritable dr David Piedt, asking, this Monday last, for a mandate to participate in the 2016 local government elections, targeting 70% of the vote is therefore demonstrably naïve.

A political grouping of the people for the people is to be welcomed and promoted.

Currently we have 12 representatives of the people of Oudtshoorn answering to the Marks Building in Cape Town; 10 answering to some convocation answering to Luthuli House; 1 answering to whomever runs Cope; 1 answering to Hout Bay; and 1 answering to Ladismith.

No one councillor in the Oudtshoorn council answers to the people of Oudtshoorn.


I am told that foremeost agricultural leader Saag Jonker told the meeting at Aurial College, called by Piedt and Messrs Bennie de Wet and Manuel Santie, that he would not hire any one of the DA councillors.


Of the other half in council none was said.

As long as the third tier of government is subject to party politics, the money and influence of the DA and the ANC will deliver the vast majority of councillors.The best Oudtshoorn can hope for is the balance of power in the hands of two or three independent councillors not controlled by DA or ANC power structures.

Such independents should subscribe to a recall contract, such as I promoted in Bitou Ward 2 last December – an initiative fiercely opposed by the DA and one I fear the ANC would not have warmed to had it fielded a candidate in the race.

Neither the DA leadership nor the ANC leadership want Oudtshoorn at this time.

The ANC’s devil-may-care approach in the August 7 by-elections squalls to the point.

The DA’s pathetic legal campaign to gain control of a council it violated repeatedly since May 31 shrieks to the point.

The two wards retained by the ANC on August 7 was won by the efforts of Icosa and the NPP. The ward lost by the ANC, rather than won by the DA, was the result of internal sapping.

At this time there are councillors and their hangers-on roaming the nooks and crannies of Verwoerd Square demanding alms. Money for bread, please. Money for electricity, please. A job for my son, please. Functionaries hedging against a change in power oblige.

Nee wragtag, en ek dag ek het als gehoor.

The State of Denmark is rotten.

There are a few outstanding officials in our municipality, I’ll have you know.

A “senior statesman” of Oudtshoorn once told me that a town can be run with useless councillors as long as there are one or two able functionaries. Oudtshoorn has such men and women.

What is required is stability in the council. That should be introduced within days when judgment in MacPherson v. Stoffels is delivered.

The judgment is not expected to result in a soon change of government, whichever way His Lordship rules.

The judgment should, however, bring the horsetrading to some finis.

And also force decisions on the fate of the 10 DA councillors and their Cope sidekick who unsuccessfully attempted to con ratepayers out of some R4.5m with the ill-conceived, dreadfullly executed, and poorly explained Nel v Oudtshoorn “settlement”.

Some semblance of stability should present itself.

And then the by-elections will follow.

DA Western Cape Chair Anton Bredell speaks of two by-elections.

I suspect he is referring to ward 2 (Pierre Nel) and ward 7 (Peter Roberts) where vacancies will follow disciplinary steps by the party’s Fedex.

Ward 2 will make for some political pyrotechnics!

The DA, of course, simply has to contest its ward.

Pierre Nel will doubtlessly stand as an independent. After all, he owns the ward.

Dr Piedt’s grouping has just asked for a mandate… they can hardly not participate in the run to 2016.

In such fertile circumstances a fourth horse of dusky hue may contrive to run as well.

I suspect two more wards will fall vacant as pecuniary pinch becomes unbearable.

But even in such circumstances of robust democracy, Oudtshoorn should prevail.

There are, at least, those few functionaries who can carry the day.

Well, we’ll see.

For the time being the meeting between Western Cape DA mayors; Cope councillors; and DA and Cope leaders is scheduled for Thursday.

Poor Theuns Botha has a job on his hands to be sure!

He has to convince Cope councillors to stick with the DA… AND explain why the DA does not want Cope’s support for its mayor in Eden!

Maybe Theuns will simply “declare victory” as he did in Oudtshoorn on May 31. No wonder the poor chap has never shown his face since.

After this meeting Botha, and probably poster boy Ivan Meyer and some other DA leaders, have a little surprise for us all.

I’ll tell ya’all all about it tomorrow.

Can we all live together in Oudtshoorn!?

Source: Dr John Coffey

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17 thoughts on “Politics is the art of living together

  1. volksie

    so tenk het petrol nodig,jy praat my taal ;nie een van daai mense wat jy hier noem se motiewe is suiwer nie,dan gaan ek eerder vir Sidney Opperman,ten minste n eerbare mens

  2. David Piedt ,Lionel Tait,Winston Coerecuis,Poem Mooney ens,ens was maar nog al die jare die agterryers van Niklaas die blikoor Barrow.Wat de hel gee hul nou om vir Oudtshoorn. Kyk maar na David Piedt se agtergrond-Dien op die Direksie van die KKNK wat slegs wit ekonomiese belang dien in die dorp daarom is dit besig om `n stille dood te sterf.Hy is ook betrokke by Oudtshoorn Eerste van Nic Barrow en die Pelhams wat ook `n stille dood gesterf het. Ag nee David Piedt jy stel so min belang in die gemeenskap se probleme as wat Ben van Wyk in Oudtshoorn se probleme belangstel en wat amper die belastingbetaler 4.5miljoen uit die sak sou jaag met sy handtekening. Jy is so min as ouma se hoeners op die werf die oplossing vir my geliefde Oudtshoorn.

  3. Ed as partye in koalisie vennootskap gaan- is daar nie konflik oplossing meganismes in plek om geskille op te los nie?

    Indien ek reg is,en help my reg indien ek nie is nie, was die Eden COPE raadslid en sy interim streek+provinsiale leierskap se uitlatings en gebruik van verkeerde/half gebakte informasie in pers nie verbreking van DA/COPE koalisie ooreenkoms wat op nationale vlak beding is nie?

    Dan net laaste vraag: Net soos met die I.D koalise,en nou ook die COPE koalisie- swaai die stert die hond of is dit anders om?

  4. Soon! My current schedule is somewhat demanding and I will not publish quickies on important issues! I appreciate the interest!

  5. “After this meeting Botha, and probably poster boy Ivan Meyer and some other DA leaders, have a little surprise for us all.

    I’ll tell ya’all all about it tomorrow.”

    So, Ed… What happened at Thursday’s meeting?

    And where do we stand with Wessie after more than a month since the request that he be removed as a councillor?

  6. Ek weet nie of dit my verbeelding is nie Ed, maar waar is u terugvoering oor die Donderdag vergadering?

  7. investigate public,jy klink meer na skoothondjie,dan klink jy ook nes n plaat wat vas gehaak het.Waar pas apartheid nou weer in? Hoeveel keer het jy al op hierdie blog gevra of bredell en botha al bedank het en of hulle al afgedank is en jy praat van aan beweeg;klink maar taamlik arrogant vir my;”I think it’s time to investigate yourself en los maar die publiek”,want wraggies jy kon vir die afgelope jaar nog nie n antwoord op jou vraag kry nie.Kom ek gee die antwoord sommer vir jou

  8. Wat se jy daar IP?

    Wil jy my se ‘n DA lid het uiteindelik die moed bymekaargeskraap om klagtes teen Botha en Bredell te le by die DA?

    Daars is nog ‘n DA lid met integriteit oor!!! Verbasend en verblydend. Welgedaan wie ookal jy is.

  9. Korrek gestel Pletty

    Aunty, so jy verkies om werkloos te bly – ‘idleness is the work of Satan” komaan uit die bed of vekies jy die ‘monthly state pension’ waarvoor jy niks hoef te doen, en die land net verder melk – skaam jou Auntie !!

    James, siestog, het iemand jou al vertel apartheid is 20 jaar gelede verby, beweeg aan ou chap, dis duidelik dis net jy wat agterbly en agteruit beweeg.

    Is Bredell en Botha al afgedank. Ek weet vir n feit hul beide is gisteraand by n Snr DA Parlementarier verkla, kom ons kyk nou wat Zille gaan doen omtrent haar ‘Mediocre Men” More of the same ???? Tyd sal leer.

    “Meester”James, het jy al aan beweeg ?

  10. Drewan, jy verstom my regtig elke dag met die dieptes van jou quotes….dis baie diep vir Oudtshoorn…

  11. Pletty….jy praat die waarheid…Dit is so waar. Kyk maar hoe die DA nou saam met de ANC gestem het ten gunste vir die Employment Equity wetgewing…Hoe groeter die DA word, hoe meer lyk hulle dieselfde…en die stilte is oordonderd van die intellegente in die DA.Of dalk is hulle stil omdat hulle nou lekker eet…

  12. Dat mense nou kan dink “meester piedt” is die messias,is om my ernstig bekommerd te maak.As die man eers in die raad is,gaan hy barrow aan ons probeer afsmeer en Nel se rooi serp word landsvlag

  13. ons beweeg dan nou terug na waar ons vandaan kom,dinge word glad nie beter nie,die onafhanklikkes is maar net nog n gedagte wat n stille dood gaan sterf

  14. If I was a DA Councillor and Saag Jonker wanted to hire me……. I WOULD SAY NO WAY, I AM NOT FOR HIRE!!!!!!!!!!

  15. By virtue of the way in which our Constitution establishes our national and provincial parliamentary participation, the political parties hold the voters of this country hostage.

    The only way in which you can participate in a general election is through a political party. In order to allow political parties to carry out this role, state funds are allocated to political parties in proportion to the number of seats they hold.

    You can only cast vote for a party and they appoint a person from their list of candidates. That person then serves at the pleasure of the party concerned. He/she is obliged to carry out the instructions and will of their party bosses and the voter has no further say. The interests of the party always trump the interests of the voters.

    Such is the nature of a proportional system of government. It is a bad system, designed to favour political parties and politicians over the citizens. There is nothing, short of amending the Constitution, that can be done to change this state of affairs, and the politicians who would have to make that happen will not do so as it would be against the interests of the political party and their own personal interests.

    In local government, however, the Constitution gives us a hybrid system; part proportional and part constituency. This allows independent, non-aligned candidates to throw their hat in the ring and run independently for the ward seats.

    It is a mechanism, which allows the voters to reject party hegemony in favour of public representatives drawn from their own community who owe their allegiance to nobody but the voters.

    It requires the voter to think about what they are voting for and to abandon the notion of blind unquestioning party loyalty, which our political parties are so careful to nurture and entrench.

    At local government level it need not be a lazy unthinking choice between the DA and the ANC, we can actually choose the best man or woman to do the work of a councillor. We do not need to gift our choice to a political party to appoint a party loyalist who has been chosen by his/her political buddies on the basis of what they can do for the party and its leaders.

    Until such time as we, the voters, overcome our laziness, lethargy and apathy towards local government affairs they will remain in the hands of people who do not put the interests of our towns and their residents first.

    It is entirely in our hands.

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