Political office is about principles not perks
“The perks of a new government are not really appealing to me. Everybody would like to have a good job, a good salary ... but for me that is not the be-all of struggle. What is important is the continuation of the struggle ... the real problems of the country are not whether one is in Cabinet ... but what we do for social upliftment of the working masses of our country.”
— Chris Hani, South African freedom fighter, 1942-1993
This week marks the 24th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani, who was a pivotal figure in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.
Not only was he involved in the armed struggle for change, but he was a visionary for a new South Africa, in which he wanted to see true measures of equality for South Africans of all ethnicities once his party, the African National Congress, became government.
He was not one who sought office for the sake of office but more interested in what the party could do to motivate the people to become the change agents that South Africa was sorely in need of. There were those who thought or feared that a change in government in South Africa would lead to a host of negatives against whites there; negatives inclusive of but not limited to violence against whites, forced reclamation of land, nationalisation of major business.
None of this came to fruition in South Africa post-1994, nor in Bermuda post-1998.
Comparable to South Africa in 1994, Bermuda and Bermudians yearn for and deserve persons who are not seeking political office for the sake of a comfortable job or fancy perks, but to become agents of change for the people most in need of upliftment.
During canvassing, we have met many Bermudians of all stripes who face any number of challenges. As we all know, bills and other life challenges are not the sole domain of any ethnicity.
There are those who have taken time to point out the good and not so good in each party and how they long to see the best and brightest of each party simply work together to address challenges along national lines versus along party lines.
Political Utopia, perhaps, but a very pragmatic need for our country.
These are the things that Chris Hani spoke of during his lifetime. Likewise, these are the things that we must not only speak of but act on during our time in positions of influence and, indeed, during our lifetimes.
Neither party nor any given individual has a monopoly on good ideas, yet persons have different perspectives on how best to make those ideals and ideas come to fruition.
So we come to the salient question: how can we as a multi-ethnic nation, with different social and political viewpoints begin to work on things in a holistic manner?
There is no magic Kumbaya silver bullet in anyone’s arsenal, yet we have the opportunity, or dare I say need, to understand that it is us, the people, that must lead from the front.
It is of paramount importance that we hold our elected officials and respective parties to account not solely for financial deals, but for a host of other issues: social conditions, educational improvements, tourism development, environmental concerns, and economic diversification.
Essentially, there is no shortage of issues that affect us all in one way or the other. Yet it is counterproductive for anyone of us to point fingers at the “other guys” time and time again.
As we enter election season, promises and pledges will be made by anyone involved in politics. It is we, the electorate, who have to demand that those seeking to represent us for the next four to five years demonstrate not only the desire to hold office but, more importantly, the desire to uplift all Bermudians in need.
We must demand progress over perks.
• Christopher Famous is a Progressive Labour Party organiser. Reach out to him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org