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Uncle Kathy Memorials: Why I accept criticism from SACP, Cosatu and Gordhan, but reject it from SaveSA

Yonela Diko is currently the Spokesperson of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape. Prior to assuming his role in the ANC, he worked in various companies in the private sector. Between 2007-2009 he worked for one of the Leading Retirement Fund Companies, NBC Holdings as an Employee Benefits Consultant. After that he joined the Corporate Strategy and Industrial Development (CSID), an Economic Research Unit housed under the School of Economics at Wits University. He did his BCom degree at the University of Cape Town majoring in Economics.

SaveSA and their cabal’s march is neither about a declining ANC nor about their middle-class members, because they have never held Zuma in high regard and have not done particularly badly under his rule. It’s simply about a validation of their long-held prejudices.

That we are in a midst of a crisis is now well understood. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare our nation for the modern age. Our politics have been divisive, poor policy implementation, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our schools fail too many, our health and education system is inadequate, SOEs are in tatters and water reserves are reaching worrying levels.

The truth is that the country needs a turnaround. A turnaround in the Union Buildings, where it seems our President and his minions are carrying out their dirty deeds. We need a turnaround in parliament, seen as compliant and complicit. We need a turnaround at Luthuli House, manic and self-absorbed.

The ANC’s strength and  survival has never been given. That strength had to be created, fought for, and tended like gardens. The strength of the organisation expanded or contracted with the vision of its leaders. In the early years of freedom that vision had been expanded through daring marches, the sit-ins, the jail songs, courage that had kept ANC alive. It is through organising, through shared sacrifice, that membership had been earned.

Our people have always been clear what they ask of us. Determination mostly. The determination to push against whatever power kept them stooped instead of standing straight. The determination to resist the easy or the expedient. We might be governing under historical conditions not of our own schooling, but we still have a responsibility to shape the future of the country.

All this is only possible if the ANC makes the needed turnaround, and only a renewed ANC can result in a country whose mood and disposition is that of a country on the rise.

This change however may well not be different to what SaveSA and all these overnight and obscure civil organisations are demanding. Why then is there such antagonism and hostility towards one another if our current desires are not so different? Is it race, is it class, or is it ideological leanings? It is true that the emotions between the races can possibly never be pure; things will always be tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing in ourselves. Whether we sought out our demons or salvation, the other race would always remain just that: menacing, alien, and apart.

Here is however  the real reason we  accept criticism from SACP, Cosatu, PG, but reject it from SaveSA and the cabal.

In 2008, Afrobarometer conducted a survey in the Western Cape on the perception of the then newly elected ANC president, likely to be the country’s President, Jacob Zuma. The survey revealed that respondents in the Western Cape had very little trust in the then newly ANC elected president. That Afrobarometer Research said only 13% of respondents in the province said they trusted the President “always” or “most of the time”.

This meant, before the President had put a single day in office as the President of the Republic, his approval ratings in the Western Cape were sitting at 13%.

And yet, in 1993, according to the book Fit to Govern by the towering intellect of Ronald Suresh Roberts, there were already some South African thinkers, predominantly middle class and predominantly white and some black, who were predicting a huge failure of the then looming black government because they said we lacked established governing habits. They predicted that some of our ministers will lend their state cars to their cousins and miss meetings, some would get drunk and not follow through with their government duties, a tirade of silliness and disdain.

In fact, President Thabo Mbeki had pointed out back in 1993 that, disturbingly, to some sections of our society, the ANC was being judged according to sins we may commit in the future. To some sections of our society, the ANC has never really had much credit in the nation’s goodwill account and if the ANC was interested in growing this goodwill, we would have to meet the wish list of these particular sections. As a result, the ANC has been under attack even before the ink was dry on our Constitution.

What this means to others is that the dislike for ANC leaders itself is not particularly rational, it’s always been lurking at the door, waiting for incidences to validate it. It was only a matter of time until these long-held prejudices against an ANC government would find a vehicle. There was a concerted effort during the Mbeki presidency, with again a white uprising around Mbeki’s refusal to fire Manto Tshabalala Msimang, his HIV/AIDS views, his unwillingness to fire Mugabe (as if it was in his power to do so) and for too long this was deemed to be Mbeki’s legacy until Zuma became the new and easier validation of previously held prejudices. What makes this even more pronounced is the actual impact of the Zuma presidency in the lives of the people, predominantly middle class, that are filling these halls for Uncle Kathy’s memorials.

The middle class has actually done well in the country. In the last 23 years, the black middle class has increased its spend to R400-billion a year, with an expanding professional strata that has become a defining feature of our democracy. Each year our universities and other training institutions are producing thousands of graduates who yearly increase the black presence in every sphere.

SaveSA and their cabal’s march then is neither about a declining ANC nor about their middle-class members, because they have never held Zuma in high regard and have not done particularly badly under his rule, it’s simply about a validation of their long-held prejudices.

I would be damned to join such unpatriotic and anti-black, anti-ANC and opportunistic marches. These are the enemies of the rainbow nation because it’s only rainbow when the bright colours are lighting up only their corners. DM

Yonela Diko is ANC Western Cape Spokesperson


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