South Africa

South Africa

Op-Ed: A chance to restore hope to a bruised and battered country

Op-Ed: A chance to restore hope to a bruised and battered country

A global astronomical event occurred on 7 August 2017 when the earth cast a sliver of a shadow across the moon. The partial eclipse was visible from from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. In many ancient cultures, solar and lunar eclipses were a sign of a challenge to the usual order of things. On Monday, in an unprecedented move, Speaker Baleka Mbete announced that Tuesday’s Motion of No Confidence vote in President Jacob Zuma would be held in secret. The time for renewal is upon us and could not have had a more apt heavenly portent. By MARIANNE THAMM.

Alack our terrene Moon is now eclipsed, And it portends alone the fall of Antony.” – Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra III.13

Rationalists observing the extraordinary political events unfolding in South Africa this week will no doubt see little significance in an indifferent astronomical event. But if we had been born in Togo or Benin and were part of the Batammaliba family we would have gazed up at the night sky on Monday and understood the partial eclipse as a time of coming together and the resolving old feuds and anger. Shakespeare too would have mined the political significance of the phenomenon of Monday’s night sky.

Tuesday is crunch time, the eighth Motion of No Confidence vote for the cat with nine lives who got all the cream, President Jacob Zuma. However, simmering below the elation and jubilation among most after Speaker Baleka Mbete’s surprise announcement on Monday that the vote would be secret is an undercurrent of pessimism.

ANC MPs will never vote against Zuma” many of the citizens muttered under their breath or called into radio talk shows to grumble.

But little focuses the mind more than the possibility of political irrelevance.

For that is exactly what will happen should the ANC – with all of its heritage and brand equity – continue on it’s current trajectory, attempting to “self-correct” that which cannot be fixed as it currently exists.

Keep Jacob Zuma and his enablers and cronies in power and the party may lose South Africa forever.

Should an opposition party, or a conglomerate of these, govern South Africa in the near future, they will inherit a country gutted by the Zuma years and in terminal decline.

Tuesday offers the ANC a once-off opportunity to properly self-correct – as it has done in the past – and to serve the people of South Africa for whom the party once contained all our hopes and dreams.

Opposition parties too will have an opportunity, with the toxic Zuma gone, of participating wholeheartedly in the rebuilding of this country.

But there are ground rules.

Zuma must go.

Then South African institutions that safeguard this hard-won democracy – Chapter Nine Institutions, State-Owned Enterprises, the Criminal Justice System, government itself – are in urgent need of resuscitation.

This is not a time for cheap or selfish politicking, for individual or party grandstanding, but for statesmanship and nation building. Even the crudest bigot must surely understand that we can only succeed together, collectively focused on the future.

President Jacob Zuma and his allies have run South African like a personal criminal empire, siphoning off an estimated R100-billion in public money. Their access to our resources must be terminated immediately.

But we can only discard this parasitic limb on the anaemic body politic if we cut off the blood supply. Those who support the Zuma/Gupta matrix do so not because they believe in what they are doing but because they are paid to do so. They have no principles and no honour.

So, how do we move towards building a government of national consensus, a government that could, overnight, assume command of the Security and Financial sectors, the first of several crucial steps in the long and painful recovery the country faces?

And who will be the leader to champion this new era of consensus (after Mbete’s 30 days of puckering the big chair is up)?

This must be an individual who is widely respected on both sides of the aisle, an individual who is trusted and whose track record has consistently shown a commitment to South Africa, its citizens and the hopes and dreams that drove the struggle for freedom.

There is every possibility that the overwhelming majority of ANC MPs would vote for a man who received several standing ovations before delivering what turned out to be his final budget speech as Minister of Finance earlier this year.

If Zuma goes on Tuesday and Mbete serves as a placeholder for 30 days until a new leader is elected by Parliament, the ANC’s rank and file would support an interim president who would steadily steer the battered ship of state until December when the ANC’s elective conference takes place.

This should be enough time to round up key Zupta suspects who have acted in a criminal manner to prevent their further entrenchment in the system they have already damaged.

The ANC indeed has a mammoth task ahead.

South Africa has an even greater task fixing a self-made mess that has deprived the country of development, growth and prosperity. We deserve better and should never again allow the cult of one man and one party to ride roughshod over the Constitution and all it promises.

On 21 August, a rare celestial event will occur when the moon will pass between the earth and the sun, creating a total solar eclipse which will be completely visible in the US. The last time this happened was in 1918. The eclipse is regarded as one of the biggest astronomical events of the decade.

In South Africa what happens in Parliament on Tuesday during the Motion of No Confidence debate will, depending on the future ANC MPs choose, help us to eclipse the damage of the Zuma years.

In Italy people believe that flowers planted during a solar eclipse grow to be brighter and more colourful than seeds planted at any other time of the year.

The time to plough and plant the seeds of democracy is upon is. Spring is around the corner if we so wish. DM

Photo: A South African soccer fan blows a vuvuzela while another waves the national flag as they wait for their national soccer team ‘Bafana Bafana’ during a parade on the streets of Sandton in Johannesburg June 9, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi


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