President Jacob Zuma’s resignation would not solve SA’s political crisis. The real culprits who are destroying South Africa’s prosperous democratic destiny and the values of Mandela, Tambo and Sisulu, are the ANC sycophants in the NEC and Parliament who tolerate, defend and celebrate Zuma’s various indiscretions. They also feed from the same trough.
In terms of etymology, booing is an expression of strong audience disapproval against the performance of an entertainer on stage. More recently the booing of politicians was interpreted as a manifestation of public condemnation and disapproval.
Addressing journalists at the World Economic Forum last week, Jacob Zuma said that “booing” is a sign that “we are maturing as a democracy”. It is also gratifying to learn that there will be no “angry President charging the police to go and arrest all of these people” (and errant columnists, one hopes!).
This is the spin coming from the ANC after the extraordinary humiliation when angry workers objected to the presence of President Jacob Zuma at the May Day rally in Bloemfontein, and Cosatu was forced to cancel the event. Former KZN Premier, Senzo Mchunu said: “The situation is bad. The President is explaining his own brand of democracy, saying that the booing was part of democracy, that it is normal. That doesn’t happen anywhere in the world that you get booed and you say that is normal”.
The problem is that the ANC is disconnected from the masses, and could be governing another planet where only the party elite live and rule, together with the tenderpreneurs and the occupants of the Saxonworld shebeen – feeding from a financial umbilical cord to SA. The anti-Zuma protests across the country in recent weeks draw attention to the problem, and a normal president would have done the honourable thing.
Of course, President Zuma is not normal, he believes that honour is a foreign, colonial concept, and a skewed moral compass does not help. ANC MP and independent thinker, Dr Makhosi Khoza, courageously maintained: “We are standing on an immoral platform from which we launch our attacks on oppressive systems. As a result we are depleted and ultimately we’ll be defeated as our goals wait for a new morally inspired tackle.”
Zuma’s resignation, however, would not solve SA’s political crisis. The real culprits who are destroying South Africa’s prosperous democratic destiny and the values of Mandela, Tambo and Sisulu, are the ANC sycophants in the NEC and Parliament who tolerate, defend and celebrate Zuma’s various indiscretions. They also feed from the same trough.
The challenge and dilemma facing the ANC leadership as articulated by Dr Mathole Motshekga, ANC NEC member was to “choose between the President on one hand, and the ANC and the people of South Africa, on the other hand”. According to Mchunu while Zuma may have “been popular in the past”, the situation had changed to a point “where he now depends more and more on the ANC rather than the ANC depending on him”.
Professor Ben Turok, retired African National Congress MP, presented an interesting insight: “Most ANC MPs have no career, most have not much education and if they leave Parliament they are looking for unemployment, so you know you are asking people to make quite a big sacrifice.”
ANC insider Khoza contends: “You cannot fight against evil if your own soul is littered with same.” She reveals what happens: “We are directed to maintain unity at all cost even if leads us to the ditch. We are instructed to follow directionless directives without questioning or raising the risks concerns for the route we are taking even if it leads us to the wasteland.”
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe warned: “If we allow this unwholesome character of politics to continue while we wallow in silence, history will never forgive our generation.” Khoza has fearlessly refused to be silenced, inside and outside the ANC structures, although this was invariably “career limiting”. She viewed the marches across the country not as “conspiracies of white monopoly capital but genuine concerns of the majority of marchers. I am a product of history. The marches I witnessed across the country were not different from the women’s march against pass laws”.
Presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa argued that we “must reclaim the ANC of Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Albertina Sisulu… That was the ANC of integrity and great respect, when we have that ANC, then we will be able to change this country”. Former finance minister Trevor Manuel contended that the lofty values and “leadership of Nelson Mandela” had been “replaced by the opportunism of office and that is a deep tragedy”.
Pravin Gordhan “who is not chasing any job” lamented: “The ANC as we have known it… the kind of values that it propelled hundreds of thousands of activists and people in South Africa around the world to struggle against apartheid and to build a new and democratic South Africa‚ is an ethic and ethos that is being challenged at the moment‚ and being undermined in many ways as well.”
A major problem in SA is that the ruling elite believes that it is above and beyond the rule of law, and this was emphasised by Motlanthe: “Political leadership sees itself as exempted from the norms and standards to which it routinely subjects society at large…. (this) will explain the prevalent culture of impunity that see the violations of our constitution as an inconvenient but trifling matter.”
On Sunday 7 May 2017, President Zuma arrived at troubled Vuwani and residents had waited for five hours for him to address their issues. However, he left without addressing them because the meeting was apparently “not representative”. The Co-operative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen tried to address the crowd but he was booed.
Is President Zuma on the back foot, getting cold feet or on the run? DM
Brij Maharaj is a geography professor at UKZN. He writes in his personal capacity.
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