South Africa

South Africa

The Gathering: ‘Public trust has broken down, we need a second revolution’

The Gathering: ‘Public trust has broken down, we need a second revolution’

President Jacob Zuma is not the only reason South Africa finds itself at a precipice today. This was the gist of the opening panel discussion at The Gathering in Sandton on Thursday. By JESSICA BEZUIDENHOUT.

The ANC’s failure to transform its underground liberation culture in a democratic constitutional space, its policy of collective responsibility and a failure to understand and manage power – were all factors that contributed to the leadership crisis the country currently faces.

So too are corruption and the failures of Black Economic Empowerment.

This was the gist of the opening panel discussion between ANC veteran, Mavuso Msimang, former MP Dr Makhosi Khoza and cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro), at the Daily Maverick’s The Gathering in Johannesburg on Thursday morning.

This session, titled “How did we get here?” sought to to unpack some of the critical factors that have caused the current political and economic situation in the country.

The name Gupta did not once feature in this discussion – although brothers Ajay, Atal and Tony were spotted flying over to Dubai along with their Number One Friend (President Jacob Zuma) during a comic video clip at the start of proceedings.

South Africa’s leadership crisis, though, did not start in Polokwane, the Limpopo town where Zuma assumed the leadership role of the ruling party back in 2007.

Msimang succinctly apportioned part of the blame for the current situation to the very beginnings of South Africa’s democracy.

We did not take the trouble to understand power and to devise ways to manage it. We should have come up with an enforceable code of principles.

Politicians have let the nation down. Public trust has been eroded and we need a sort of second revolution.”

For this to happen, Msimang said it was important for civil society to claim back some of that power that had been bestowed on politicians.

In addition, he said, the ANC’s election system is “ancient”, one developed at a time when power was not seen an issue.

It is for this reason that last week’s gathering of ANC veterans discussed the need for a review of that system because, in part, it has pushed people into leadership positions when they ought not to be there, Msimang said.

The former government DG spoke about the failures of Black Economic Empowerment, the “short-sightedness” of big business which he said, was quick to sign on the big names, like “the Ramaphosa,” in the name of transformation. This had limited the real potential of the economic redress policy having kept the large majority of Black South Africans out of the system.

Msimang urged all South Africans to step up in the quest to produce a better country. “Do not allow people to define you by race, do not retreat.”

He suggested that everyone who had something to bring should do so and not hold back because because they feared the message would be more palatable if it came from someone else.

Khoza was equally unequivocal about the need for a united South Africa, one that recognised injustice, and the need for a growing economy that would boost job creation.

We must be mindful of the historical and racial economic model. We need one that can include compassion,” she said.

And, we need to stretch our imagination back to the days of 1995/1996.” The remarkable spirit around the Rugby World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations were examples of moments that should be leveraged by good leaders as something to build on, Khoza said.

We need to find each other. We need to recognise injustice and we need to know that corruption is not a victim-less crime.”

She echoed Msimang’s warning that South Africans should not bank too much on the ANC’s elective conference next month to bring about the the change they hope to see.

Khoza, who resigned from the ANC after being slapped with disciplinary action following her public criticism of President Zuma, also alluded to her involvement in the formation of a new political movement. Details would be revealed in good time, she said, of the new outfit made up of various splinter groups of unhappy “ANC people” who had left the party over the years. DM

Photo: Mavuso Msimang walks on to the stage to join moderator Bongani Bingwa (left), to kick off the first panel with Zapiro and Dr Makhosi Khoza  at the Daily Maverick’s The Gathering, on 23 November 2017. Photo: Daniel Born


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