Sunday 28 July 2019

U4I - Union for Individuals

by Trevor Watkins

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.’
Buckminster Fuller - Architect / Designer / Futurist / Author

What idea would attract the interest of your average township gogo, trying to sell vegetables from a roadside stall?
What would interest a rural mother of 5 with a drunken husband eking out a precarious existence living on tribal land?
How can you explain the downsides of minimum wage to millions of unemployed workers?
How can you conduct a countrywide poll of the poorest of the poor in a matter of minutes?
How can you credibly address the security issues of middle class South Africans?

Here is an idea that can tick all of these boxes.

Some current realities

  • South Africa is on the verge of a catastrophe.
  • Opposition politics is a black hole which sucks up funds and energy without return.
  • The vast majority of South Africans of all classes have some access to cell phone technology.
  • Ordinary individuals are the largest oppressed group in SA
  • Unions have near unlimited power and access to the state
  • Jobs, not race or land, is the biggest issue for most South Africans
  • The ANC has provided significant benefits, economic and social, to millions of poor South Africans, who remain grateful and loyal to the ANC as a result
  • We have much to learn, and to fear, from the Chinese

Some current myths

  • Black people must be stupid because they keep voting for the ANC
  • White people are no longer relevant to, or influential in, the future of South Africa
  • Our current problems can be solved by doing what we’ve always done before
  • Our past defines our future
  • Socialism can work here, or anywhere else.


Many solutions are proposed
  • BBBEE, NHI, prescribed assets, endless bailouts, improved social grants
  • Commissions on jobs, poverty, state capture, corruption, education, security, SMME’s
  • Emigration
  • Secession
  • Better education through private initiatives

Characteristics of a workable solution

It must directly involve the vast majority of South Africans, across all races and classes
  1. It must improve their lives significantly in the short term
  2. It must be affordable to all
  3. It must be new and different, not simply a recycled version of a past failed strategy
  4. It must be non-political, non-racial, independent of the level of education and income
  5. It must be popular - it should appeal to most people
  6. It must be professionally and privately administered and managed, without corruption


To address these issues, I suggest the following new model:
  1. Setup a new business, provisionally known as the Union for Individuals (U4I). Register it as a union.
  2. U4I will act as a union for individuals, providing services, protecting their rights, and advocating on their behalf.
  3. The precedent for this is Afriforum, which is linked to the Solidarity trade union and promotes the protection of Afrikaner culture. However, Afriforum excludes the majority of the SA population, who have a deep culture of union membership.
  4. U4I will charge a nominal annual membership, such as R10. It will undertake projects on behalf of individuals, like Afriforum does for Afrikaners. Court actions, protests, dissemination of information, special services.
  5. A new Android app, provisionally called App4U, similar to the Vodacom LINK app, will be developed. (See
  6. Members will be registered on App4U for free. The app will have the following facilities:
  7. Members can setup local security groups amongst friends and relatives. The people who agree to be in your group will be notified if you have an emergency, along with your location.
  8. Members can report less urgent problems using the App4U, for attention and possible resolution by U4I employees, local councillors, state officials.
  9. Instant polls of members on specific issues can be quickly and easily conducted and tallied.
  10. Members can communicate, offer and request goods and services, interact with each other, like on Whatsapp. A marketplace for work seekers will arise, which prospective employers can access.
  11. App4U will provide the contact details for all levels of government in a structured search, similar to the LINK apps’ councillor and ward database. Complaints and queries will be recorded on the app and shared with the targeted officials. The app will provide facilities such as standardised emails to selected officials. A history of interactions with officials will be kept, and available for public interrogation. Non-performing officials will be quickly identified.
  12. U4I can directly communicate with members through broadcasts. This can be used to rapidly spread awareness of important issues, such as widespread fires, rioting, weather problems. It can also be used to educate members on new legislation, better practices, tips, etc.
  13. The app will track your reputation. Abuse of other members or app facilities will lower your reputation. Frequent assistance and problem resolution will raise your reputation.
  14. The app will probably fund itself through targeted advertising.
  15. U4I management will be able to conduct polls, track developing issues, alert authorities, act to resolve issues before they escalate.


  1. None of the technology proposed is new. The Vodacom LINK software could probably be used without change initially.
  2. The app addresses a fundamental issue of most South Africans, security, quickly and efficiently.
  3. It may also assist job seekers, small enterprises, education.
  4. U4I will establish a wide and deep network of members who can assist fellow members in need, provide critical intelligence on needs and shortages, offer advice to many simultaneously.

Next steps

  1. Find a backer for this idea with sufficient funds and infrastructure and motivation.
  2. Setup a project team.
  3. Contact the developers of the Link app at , or, The App Factory (Pty) Ltd, 11th Floor Convention Tower, Cnr Heerengracht and Walter Sisulu Avenue, Foreshore, Cape Town.
  4. Register U4I as a union.
  5. Test the idea in a controlled localised trial.
  6. Develop a marketing strategy.

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