We’re not talking about what’s been happening today at the polling stations of the 2019 elections — I do hope you are reading this somewhere in the voting queue, or while enjoying the public holiday after fulfilling your civic duty.
The ultimate result of your effort on Wednesday may already be predetermined (the ANC is all but certain to emerge victorious) and the only unknowns are the shades of it which, as important as they might be, are still just that, the shades.
The really tough part we have in mind starts, well, tomorrow.
No matter what the polls say, South Africa remains a brutally divided country, its ruling party of 25 years even more ruthlessly so. Its internal divisions may soon slip out into our daily lives and the streets of South Africa. Make no mistake — there will be no stability until that not-so-inner struggle has a measurable, clear outcome.
Another question facing us right now is just how much support extremist political organisations and individuals will gain. And how many will end up in Parliament, free to spew hatred, threats and calls to violence while protected by the People’s House rules?
The world itself is in turmoil. Evil is on the rise, despite all our progress in philosophy, science and technology. South Africa is no exception — we are in the middle of what is nothing less than a fight for the survival of our democracy.
If we are to stand a chance of making it to the other side, we must redefine the very idea of responsible citizenry and our duties to prevent another lost decade, or even a lost generation.
A few years ago, someone asked me: Why do I need to help the media, or anyone else, for that matter? I pay my (very high) taxes.
In normal times and a normal society, that indeed would have been enough. But normal left the station a long time ago. These are desperate times.
After the ballots have been deposited into the blue and pink IEC boxes, we need every South African to continue upholding the values of active citizenry. Collectively, we must continue our effort to rebuild South Africa from the wreckage left in the wake of nine years of Jacob Zuma. And to do so, we need to remain vigilant.
With few notable exceptions, our government, our institutions of democracy, state-owned entities, civil society, the media, are in tatters. The size of the repair job is huge. So we cannot just vote and walk away, as we did so many times before, hoping and expecting that normality will return on its own. Or that politicians will fix this hot mess on their own. It will require every South African to chip in and lend support, in any way possible.
This country has been suffering for too long — now is our chance, our duty with a reprieve from the tyranny of corruption — to do what’s right:
Be heard when you see injustice, stupidity and/or incompetence.
Be felt when you are disgusted with the politics of hatred, racism and ugliness.
Be seen when the streets need to be filled with protest.
Show to the forces of evil what you stand for.
Because YOU MATTER.
So remain in touch with your own community. Get active in civil society.
Follow the media. The real media. Help the media.
(A message from my team: A good start would be to become, or encourage others to become, a Maverick Insider).
Whatever you do, never forget this:
Evil wins when good people do nothing.
Let’s not allow the first 25 years to go to waste. Consistent efforts by motivated, hopeful and active citizens can reshape a country in a short space of time. Other countries which have suffered way more devastation have come back from the brink. We can do it too, but only together do we stand a chance of having the kind of future we all want. And deserve. DM