Look beyond the noise that has clouded our vision
- Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar
- 23 Nov 2017 (South Africa)
Currently, South Africans have to contend with a great deal of noise, especially when trying to decipher the true extent of State Capture, criminality, corruption and lawlessness.
That rot extends far beyond Saxonwold, the Union Buildings and the “war rooms” (which it seems have acted as cover for looting and the circumvention of public funds) that have been established at our State-owned Enterprises.
There can be no mistaking that the capture is supported, enabled and directed by government officials and elected representatives extending into the Tripartite Alliance, the African National Congress, the Union Buildings and beyond. There can be little doubt after the #GuptaLeaks that there is a reason we were told to connect the dots. There can be no doubt that our constitutional democracy is being undermined by many individuals that have a vested interest in protecting both the day to day operations but also the legacy of their malfeasance.
Yet in the face of the overwhelming evidence and facts in the public domain, we still have leaders in our country such as Lynne Brown, the Public Enterprises Minister, who are willing to deny any knowledge of or involvement in wrongdoing. South Africans are expected to believe that the Department and its minister have not been involved in any wrongdoing in the face of insurmountable evidence that is currently being ventilated in the current Parliamentary inquiry. It should not be surprising that the factional battles within the ANC have been highlighted on the national stage demonstrated just this week between former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the current Minister for Public Enterprises during Parliament’s Eskom inquiry.
Just last week, former President Thabo Mbeki addressed the National Consultative Conference of the Stalwarts and Veterans, a conference that was convened by ANC members, many of them prominent leaders and veterans of the movement, but a conference that had not been supported by the ANC or its National Executive Committee. Mbeki during his speech spoke of how the ANC had been captured. Mbeki was unequivocal when he observed that the rot had infested the entire organisation and that “targeting one person or two or three is not going to solve our problems”.
The underlying message flowing from the National Consultative Conference and in the remarks by Mbeki was that hope was still within reach and that leaders needed not simply to provide hope but also provide direction for the future.
However, we must not forget that the ANC was not captured by external forces but rather that capture was supported and led by cadres of the movement motivated by their own self-interest and bankrolled by corrupt private individuals and families.
Oliver Reginald Tambo, stalwart and former President of the ANC, at the ANC’s 1990 National Consultative Conference, remarked in his opening address that “the struggle is far from over; if anything, it has become more complex and, therefore, more difficult”. Instead of taking heed of this warning by Tambo, the leadership of the ANC have accelerated the decline by negligence, inaction and also wilfully adopting a corrupt and unlawful approach instead of serving the people and the Republic.
The question we should all be wrestling with is whether hope will be enough, especially as the ANC approaches its national elective conference. We should not forget that veterans and stalwarts of South Africa’s liberation have reminded us all that the rot does not simply reside in the head of the ANC but rather that South Africa is burdened with an organisation that has systemic problems and that there are factional battles under way.
More than 27 years ago, Tambo reminded the governing party that the struggle was far from over. ANC branch delegates should take heed of Tambo’s warning and, in their conduct, be mindful that simply electing new leadership will not be enough. Instead, ANC members and their movement must wrestle with itself to not simply assess how it has wilfully failed the people but also whether it can offer South Africans hope.
South Africa is confronted with systemic issues, which extend far beyond the malfeasance at Government Avenue, Elandspoort 357-Jr, Pretoria (the Union Buildings), and South Africa and its leaders must begin to wrestle with issues of inequality, unemployment and poverty. The inevitable reality of corruption and State Capture is that our country cannot focus on the fundamental issues that South Africans are left to wrestle with alone. As South Africans must wrestle with these issues, beyond the noise, as the ANC approaches the December conference of the ANC, and especially after the unfolding events in Zimbabwe this week, we should take heed of Paulo Freire’s words in the Pedagogy of Hope, where he remarks,
“The people cry out against the crass evidence of public corruption. The public squares are filled once more. There is hope, however timid, on the street corners, a hope in each and every one of us. It is as if most of the nation has been taken by an uncontainable need to vomit at the sight of shamefulness … Without a minimum of hope, we cannot as much as start the struggle. But without the struggle, hope, as an ontological need, dissipates, loses its bearings and turns into hopelessness.”
It is essential that our focus realigns. Our focus must shift beyond the noise that has clouded our vision. We must focus our energies not simply on looking beyond the holders of power that are at best transient. We must focus our attention on ensuring that the right policies are developed and that we are able to implement those policies to correct the damage that has been caused by those who ignored the warning of our freedom fighters, our founders and the defenders of our constitutional democracy. We will also need to re-evaluate the role that the ANC should play in our democracy. South Africans will need to drive this conversation to reignite our efforts to create hope. We will have to work very hard to change our collective future in order to redirect our efforts, acknowledging that “the struggle is far from over”. DM
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