With this week’s neck and neck election in the US, I have been thinking about the importance of opposition. Competition keeps you on your toes, but is that all that is important?
Many countries have suffered due to a lack of opposition. Sometimes, those who promise to have our best interest at heart do not stay accountable of own accord. More often than not, easy power leads to abuse and without a strong opposition, many a government has failed its citizens. But what does strong opposition means? I like this definition by Sarim Navid on thewire.in: “What a strong opposition means is, of course, not something that is easily intelligible. If the role of an opposition is to bring out the shortcomings of the government and to present an alternative ideological vision and a political programme, then we do have a strong opposition.” India is struggling with the lack of opposition and so is South Africa. Navid continues to say: “If, however, a strong opposition is one which can match the government PR stunt for PR stunt, then we emphatically do not have a strong opposition.” This sounds a bit like what we deal with in South African politics…
But the importance of opposition is not limited to politics. When a monopoly is at play, someone usually suffers the effect – whether it is in offering or price or service. I am a strong believer in competition. It might be easier when you rule alone, but it makes you lazy and in the end you will suffer with everyone else. Having strong competition keeps you focused, it encourages innovation and it ensures you become the best you can be.
The South African Wine Tourism industry is a very good example. The quality of the offering is exceptional. It is diverse and inventive and has seen tremendous improvement over the last decade. The quality of the leading wine tourism estates have encouraged and inspired many to lift their game and tourism in the Cape Winelands has been the winner. (See the latest Great Wine Capitals of the World Best of Wine Tourism Winners for South Africa). Although strong competition might result in consumers not always choosing your experience, an overall quality offering will result in more general interest and eventually in more visitors to you too. It is to the advantage of all involved when the competition is tight.
I have to say, however, that it breaks my heart to see how tourism in the Winelands is suffering at the moment. The local support has been incredible and everyone I speak to is so thankful for those who buy their wine, come for lunch, stay for a night… While many offerings have been adjusted to cater for locals and to be more affordable, the hospitality model is suffering without the foreign capital it is used to.
Opposition and healthy competition gave us an exceptional offering, but now the challenges of 2020 leave us with a lack of opportunity. It is important to have a long term vision, but everyone has to survive in the short term. I believe that wine tourism in South Africa is a sustainable industry and I am confident about the quality of the offering. Surviving in the short term, however, will take determination and cooperation and a lot of innovation.