A Transition in Leadership Roles: Ari Seirlis


Today Ari Seirlis stepped down from his leadership position at the head of South Africa's foremost organization for those with spinal cord injuries.

His record of accomplishments deserves being retold here in full. In the absence of such an article I reprint the letter he just sent followed by the press release from the Independent Democrats party of South Africa:


It is with great sadness, yet with high hopes that I announce my resignation as National Director of QASA and Managing Editor of Rolling Inspiration.


Sadness, as QASA has been my life for the last ten years, and the magazine one of our major successes.


Hopes, as I am standing as a candidate for the Independent Democrats (ID) in April's elections, in position three on the party's national list.


I have always believed that there should be people with disabilities in all structures, including parliament. And there are - but only in the ruling party. Some excellent legislation has been passed in the last few years, but we are still waiting for that legislation to be successfully implemented. We need representatives of the disability sector in the opposition parties too, in order to bring about the implementation that is so vital to our lives.


That is why the time has come for me to put my money where my mouth is and accept the nomination with the Independent Democrats. Most of you know me well enough by now to understand that I am doing this not for myself, but for you.


I will make it my strategy to develop partnerships and relationships with anyone who is committed to the rights of people with disabilities, no matter what their political affiliations are. I believe it will be healthy to have somebody with leadership, capacity, commitment and conviction on the opposition benches of parliament. I truly believe that I can make a genuine difference to the lives of people with disabilities in South Africa, in a way that is long overdue.


QASA remains an apolitical body, of course, which supports its members regardless of who they vote for and what they believe. Yet the organisation does support my move, on the basis that it is essential that this country has strong leaders from the disability sector in decision-making and lobbying positions.


It is incredibly hard for me to leave QASA. I want to thank my management for standing by me and for accepting the challenge of what will be a difficult transition over the next few months. I will always be there to assist. And of course, I want to thank our members for their continued support; in return, I will always support you. It's not yet a fait accompli, of course - the first hurdle is for the Independent Democrats to achieve enough votes to get me in to parliament.


Among many other quotations written in the interests of minority groups, the following best illustrates how I feel:


Protecting the vulnerable from abuse at the hands of the powerful is society's most sacred task. It articulates a universal "vulnerability principle" - the duty to protect the vulnerable - which is to be the guiding force of society's quest for justice and righteousness.

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein


I ask for your good wishes, I ask for your support, I ask for your continued friendship, I ask that you continue reading this wonderful magazine, and lastly I ask you, your friends and your family, for your VOTES!


I have not said "goodbye", but hopefully "hello" from another platform, from which I will do everything in my power for the cause of disability in South Africa and for the betterment of your lives.





Resigns as National Director of the Quadpara Association of South Africa

Ari Seirlis, the National Director of the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA), has resigned his position to stand as a candidate for the Independent Democrats in the National Elections.

Seirlis is number three on the national list of the Independent Democrats, the fastest-growing political party in the country over the past two elections.

Dynamic, pro-active and outspoken, Seirlis’ nomination is sure to bring colour to the political scene.

With 20 years’ experience in the disability sector – six of these as National Director at QASA – he has initiated high-profile lobbying and information campaigns that range from the ‘Buckle Up – We Don’t Want New Members’ road safety campaign, to shocking awareness adverts on Etv about the dangers of diving into the sea as a cause of spinal cord injury.

Under his leadership, QASA has grown to become one of the most powerful disability rights organisations and service providers in South Africa.

‘It was a hard, emotional choice. Could I make more of a difference to the lives of people with disabilities by remaining at QASA, or could I help influence fundamentally important disability policy and implementation strategies from a seat in Parliament?

‘Ultimately, I believe that the Independent Democrats, with their steadfast commitment to supporting the most marginalized groups in society, as well as their commitment to not only fight for the rights of our people, but to also offer solutions to the challenges they face, offer the best chance of success,’ Mr Seirlis says.

‘The track record of the Independent Democrats when it comes to people living with disabilities speaks for itself and gives me confidence that together we can ensure the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,’

As part of the Independent Democrats’ election campaign, Seirlis will be focusing on reaching out to the disabled and mature citizens.


Seirlis studied at UCT. He broke his neck in a diving accident in 1985, which left him a quadriplegic. This did not stop him from completing an IMM marketing qualification at Natal Technikon, after which he started and ran his own business in the signage industry.

During his six years as National Director, Seirlis was instrumental in establishing QASA as a strong, sustainable association that strives to prevent spinal cord injury as well as protect and promote the interest of people with mobility impairments.

Known for his forthright views, he has been involved in a variety of organizations across South Africa, including Rotary, the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities, the Institute of Marketing Management and the Signage Association.

He continues to serve on a number of Boards, including the Thabo Mbeki Development Trust, AMASONDO Investments (Pty) Ltd and Operation Jumpstart, the former KZN Lotto. He has served two terms as an advisor to the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism through NEAF.

Seirlis has been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship, the eThekweni Mayor’s Excellency Award, the Greek Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year” Award and was also a finalist in the Durban Chamber of Commerce’s “Businessman of the Year Award”.

His hobbies are fly-fishing, quad bike riding, hand cycling and reading.

For more information on QASA, see www.qasa.co.za

For media enquiries, please call Steven Otter, ID Media Officer, on 084 233 3811

An interview with Ari in te Witness:


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