President Zuma is not in the business of doing the right thing. Nor are Baleka Mbete, Thandi Modise or Gwede Mantashe, all of whom have their own ambitions, which are not to be thwarted by such concepts as truth, honour and responsibility. The same could be said of Jessie Yasmin Duarte, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Lawrence Mkhize, who should have all urgently convened a special sitting of the National Executive Committee instead of this managed side-show that leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.
Meanwhile, we are expected to endure the obfuscation and the half-truths. It will not be easy to recover from this mess regardless of the decisive decision by our Constitutional Court. The attempts to deceive the nation will continue. After all, what are the other options?
Politically, how could the African National Congress recover from removing its president and/or chairperson from their positions within the Executive and legislature without being forced to convene a Special National Congress (that is likely to be protracted)? The balance of power between those loyal to Jacob Zuma and his opponents within the party (currently hosted under the hesitant banner of Ramaphosa) appear to be mutually destructive, with inaction winning the day.
What is clear is that Baleka and Gwede as well as their counterparts in the ANC Top Six are unable to live up to the legacy of ANC leaders such as Sol T Plaatje, Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu and Oliver Reginald Tambo. The office-bearers of the ANC are gripped and paralysed by fear of the inevitable consequences of doing the right thing.
Instead of embracing and charting a course of doing the right thing, South Africa is being forced into a vicious cycle of leaders focusing on blurring the lines and serving their own interests.
A week after the court decision, Pravin Gordhan, our newly reappointed finance minister, is quoted at the funeral service of Shirish Nanabhai. Nanabhai was an uMkhonto WeSizwe (MK) veteran sentenced to 10 years on Robben Island by the apartheid regime. Gordhan, reflecting on Nanabhai, remarked that “the defining factor of Nanabhai’s generation is they never sought glory or personal wealth”. Gordhan went on to say that “these were values of sacrifice‚ uprightness, and not the hubris we see today”.
Fine words, but it is not enough for the cadres of the African National Congress to speak on the sidelines of funerals and memorial services or in general statements. Rather, what the country needs is very specific actions, words and deeds.
To make South Africans wait until December 2017 when the 54th National Conference convenes is a grave disservice to a country that is waiting for decisive and ethical leadership that does not waiver but rather accepts and fulfils its role, responsibility and duty as set out in the supreme law of the land – our Constitution.
While we wait, we will see the usual delaying tactics, the attempts to distract by President Zuma and his compatriots. We will also have to endure the inevitable outcome of a parliamentary motion to remove Zuma as president, because South Africa’s governing party will somehow hold that Zuma has not violated the Constitution or law or committed serious misconduct. Zuma will wriggle out of responsibility, yet again – and South Africa will suffer. DM