Defend Truth


Enough of the Arrogance: Let’s talk about what lies ahead


Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar was born in Cape Town and raised by his determined mother, grandparents, aunt and the rest of his maternal family. He is an admitted attorney (formerly of the corporate hue), with recent exposure in the public sector, and is currently working on transport and infrastructure projects. He is a Mandela Washington Fellow, a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, and a WEF Global Shaper. He had a brief stint in the contemporary party politic environment working for Mamphela Ramphele as Agang CEO and chief-of-staff; he found the experience a deeply educational one.

The only way South Africa’s future can be secured is if we begin the critical conversations around identity, access to education (and basic services more broadly), racism, prejudice and the triple threat of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

South Africa is forced to deal with the arrogance of a few men and women. Men and women who make the decision to dig in their heels instead of dealing with the truth.

That arrogance and disdain is epitomised in Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, the democratically elected President of this Republic, but the rot extends far beyond Zuma. Those men and women seem to only take instruction from the shebeen in Saxonworld instead of being guided by our convening constitutional principles, the rule of law or the will of the people.

We are being held hostage – captured by a crop of leadership that have done everything in their power to frustrate us and the truth. These men and women take centre stage and consume any capacity we may have to think ahead. Those men and women have today stolen from us. We must not forget that they have also tried to rewrite our history, for their own partisan agenda, and have systematically attempted to steal our past. Now they are busy trying to steal our future with all their tricks and are doing so on our watch.

It is easy to gather around the call to remove Mr Zuma from the Presidency, a man who is a symbol of our troubled times. Zuma is a target that can outrage the chattering classes, the elite, civil society, the opposition benches and a large number of prominent South Africans who have raised their voices recently.

What comes after two terms of Zuma? The current chatter under banners such as Save South Africa are a reminder that South Africans themselves have the power to raise issues, to suggest and call for change, and that they can seek to hold their elected officials accountable. However, the call of no confidence in Mr Zuma does not confront the critical question of who will replace people like Zuma when they have been removed.

However, the harder part is trying to imagine what comes after Zuma and, critically, about what he represents.

It is not enough to accept that Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa or Dr Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma offer us enough of an alternative. It is not enough to accept that the answer resides in one person or their particular faction. We must demand more specifically about how they intend to serve South Africa.

There is a need for a far more meaningful conversation to take place in South Africa if we are to save our future. Of course, Zuma symbolises the rot that must be removed. However, to focus our energies only on Zuma, the Guptas and the State of Capture would be a disservice to the underlying issues that South Africa has not confronted properly.

We should be able to spend as much attention and effort to highlight the abuse meted out against women and children and not to confine this conversation to the scripted 16 days in a calendar year that is often compromised and empty.

We should be able to talk about the need for access to education across our country without negating the legitimate calls from young South Africans, under the banner of #FeesMustFall, that are calling for change.

We should be able to talk about empowering and enabling South Africans so that they are not doomed to scraping by on less than R3,500 a month.

We should be able to confront issues of racism and prejudice without blaming victims of this violence.

The triple threat of poverty, unemployment and inequality cannot be reduced to a hashtag or a commission but must form part of a far broader conversation that looks to our past, our present and critically to the future we all need to be building towards.

South Africans have an abundance of resilience, but more important is that we are multifaceted, dynamic and holistic. We have the ability to care about Zuma, state capture and #FeesMustFall but critically we can also be concerned about our collective future that must be saved. That future will not be secured by simply removing Zuma. The only way that future can be secured is if we begin the critical conversations around identity, access to education (and basic services more broadly), racism, prejudice and the triple threat of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We would be foolhardy if we expected groups such as Save South Africa, the opposition benches or the governing party to start the conversation. We can no longer wait for some saintly group of firebrands to save us from the rot. We must begin that work ourselves if we are ever going to save our future that is being chipped away by what Mr Zuma represents, but also by our collective indifference to the underlying issues that confine millions of South Africans to poverty and despair. We must act now. DM


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