Now is time to deliver

The fourth democratic Parliament has been sworn in. Jacob Zuma is our fourth popularly chosen president in 15 years.

The fourth democratic Parliament has been sworn in. Jacob Zuma is our fourth popularly chosen president in 15 years.

It is easy to be smug about it all. Lest we forget that ours is a continent and a region afflicted by the scourge of Big Men bent on leaving high office only at the behest of gunmen or if their next destination is a morgue or the grave.

As former president Nelson Mandela said almost 15 years ago, it seems that the sun will indeed never set on so glorious a human achievement. We do, however, know that unless we guard it jealously, the sun might very well go down on us.

South Africa has entered yet another era of hope. In many ways this Parliament is a lot like the 1994 legislature. It carries the hopes of a people who have felt under-represented and ignored in the corridors of power.

The 400 men and women who will periodically gather in Cape Town ought to remember that they not only represent the parties that took them there but rather the aspirations of the millions who came out in record numbers to cast their ballots.

For too long Parliament has tended to be the representative of the parties rather than the electorate.

In many instances it has forgotten that it is meant to oversee the work of the legislature and not to rubber-stamp it.

In Jacob Zuma the people of South Africa have spoken eloquently.

They have said they want to live before they can philosophise or write verses. They have also said that even when their prose is not elegant, they still want to be heard.

The era of polemics is past. Parliament should find its meaning not in flowery language but in the decisions it takes towards bringing dignity to the lowest of the voters.

The Parliament that will sit for the next five years is therefore a parliament of the dreams the electorate has dared to dream again despite the many false dawns.

The members sworn in yesterday have it in their hands to ensure that these dreams become a reality.

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