Letter to President Thabo Mbeki and the Speaker of Parliament (Ms B Mbete) regarding "Follow-up regarding a National Convention on Unity" (20 May 2008) from the UDM President

My previous correspondence and Parliamentary speeches regarding the above refers. At this moment I am particularly concerned that issues raised in this regard, such as ethnicity and crime, are spiralling out of control whilst the mechanism to address the issues was proposed more than a year ago, and generally accepted, but no implementation seems to be happening.

It will be recalled that I suggested that the goal of such a National Convention or Indaba would be to "reach a point where we have consensus on our joint challenges, so that we develop commonly accepted programmes to deal with issues that have already been raised by the public such as fighting crime, corruption, racism and poverty. This process will address the concerns of many South Africans and lessen the fear and despondency that many feel."

In response President Mbeki said, amongst others: "Parliament will, in its wisdom, decide what to do with this suggestion. If Parliament, which represents the will of the people, constituted such a steering committee from within its ranks, and it asked me to suggest three domestic topics that might be addressed, I would suggest that these should be:
* social transformation, including the important issues of national and social cohesion, and a national value system
* the eradication of poverty
* the reduction and eradication of crime, especially crimes against the person."

I would like to know how far the Speaker has progressed with preparing for such a National Convention or Indaba.

Last year the idea was met with approval by the President when I raised it in the State of the Nation debate. This year in the State of the Nation debate when I queried the lack of implementation, the Speaker came with the flimsy excuse of not receiving my correspondence (as if my proposal, and the President's response, during the State of the Nation debate was not sufficient record of the matter). We established afterwards that the correspondence was indeed sent.

The establishment of a steering committee under the auspices of an independent institution seems appropriate and I suggested in February that the Human Rights Commission could fulfil such a role. Has the Speaker approached the Commission?

In the meanwhile questions about the economy, community unrest and crime are becoming more and more explosive with each passing day.

I look at the violence in certain areas over the past week and see the results of the failure to hold this National Convention. I have raised this issue in two successive State of the Nation debates, and I have written to both of your offices. What else must I do?

Bantu Holomisa, MP

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