We all have a gut feeling that something is amiss. We have arrived at the train wreck scenario. It is not just that the wheels have come off the train but rather the tracks are being sold off, not on piecemeal basis, but rather in bulk. We all know that something is really wrong. It may be personified by the Gupta family and by Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma but it does not end there. Something fundamental must change in order to overcome this mess.
There is no other way to look at it except to say that we have somehow entered an age of wonkiness. The only obvious outcome is that we must be angry. Anger and emotion has taken centre stage and so we see the outpouring of that pain, frustration and anger from people like Andrew Mlangeni, Jackson Mthembu and recently from Sipho Pityana under the banner of Save South Africa. Something is deeply wrong with the state of our nation. The visible emotion from people like Sipho Pityana has galvanised and mobilised other voices to speak out. A National Day of Rage is the first step in this outpouring but we cannot stop there. Finally, leaders, from across the spectrum, and importantly within the African National Congress, are speaking out. We know that we have lost our way, but we don’t yet know how best to save our collective futures. We are working on that.
South Africa may be good at scenario planning, although it would be fair to say that we are good at compiling reports that capture various scenarios that might take place. We are not that good at coordinating our efforts to achieve an outcome or even worse to prevent a scenario from unfolding. South Africa has gone through a cycle of scenarios, including the Dinokeng Scenarios with a panel of elders and leaders, including Jay Naidoo, Sim Tshabalala, Graça Machel, Ryan Coetzee, Bob Head, Mamphela Ramphele and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Yet those scenarios have not seemed to give us direction. We have also seen scenarios developed by the Institute of Security Studies, Anglo American, Nedcor/Old Mutual, the Institute of Race Relations, as well as by Mont Fleur. Worse still the Policy Co-ordination and Advisory Services unit in the Presidency developed its own set of scenarios, that sits on the Presidency website untouched and possibly forgotten, in the form of “South Africa Scenarios 2025, The Future We Chose?”
It is simply not true that we didn’t see the fall coming but in many cases, we predicted it and provided detailed and interesting narratives and we did so as part of a “process of thinking about what we can and should do, now and in the near future, to avoid risks, obstacles, bottlenecks and blockages, and to achieve more than we can currently imagine”.
Instead of taking heed of our own warning, we wilfully marched on into the abyss. It is important to dust off the scenarios on the Presidency website, as the first scenario (not yet uhuru) sketches a business as usual approach where divisions grow; a second scenario (Nkalakatha) where we begin to tackle the challenges directly and a third scenario (Muvhango) where the abyss is embraced with the eagerness of lemmings with growing inequality and the unravelling of our social contract.
The past couple of months has given space for people to speak out but South Africa will not simply be saved by the resignation of Jacob Zuma or his colleagues on the ANC’s National Executive Committee. We have been adrift for too long. We have made far too many mistakes. We are stuck between a state of not yet uhuru, not yet freedom, and Muvhango with factional battles within the ANC compromising the stability of our State institutions with corruption, inertia and state capture claiming the goal posts.
We are battling to do the right thing. We are struggling to hold our leaders accountable where “new scandals unfolded, it seemed that more energy was spent sniping at each other than on governing effectively, as factions within the ANC hardened and grudges got recycled into waves of passivity or aggression”.
Inaction has lead us to a path where people, not fit for purpose, hold power over South Africa. These individuals have worked in the shadows using deceit, obfuscation and manipulation to secure that power. The trouble now is that they must perform on the national stage, under the glare of the spotlight, and all the fancy footwork is just not enough. They are unable to deceive us and so the only outcome is that everything must unravel.
This is the tipping point we hatched and embraced. As we stand at the edge of the cliff, many hope for the ANC to save itself – for leaders like Jackson Mthembu –and to show signs of revival and a return to the values that we want – to put us back on track towards uhuru. Mthembu is alive to the risks of a world dominated by the Muvhango scenario and so he must speak as Mthembu has suggested against what is wrong because if we are unable to then it will truly be a dog eat dog world and we will never ever taste uhuru. DM