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#ThumaMina, a.k.a. Shoulder to The Wheel

Thembinkosi Gcoyi is the Managing Director and Co-founder of Frontline Africa Consulting. He is a former South African Diplomat and has served as Economic Counsellor at the countrys Embassy in Beijing, China. He also runs a blog on his firms website - He may be contacted at [email protected].

As black professionals, we have to accept some level of culpability for the mess that is South Africa and to realise that change takes time — and can be very painful when it does come.

Last year I wrote about the inertia of South Africa’s black professional classes when it came to politics. I decried the phenomenon of black professionals disengaging from the ruling party due to the corruption and lack of direction seen under the leadership of former president Jacob Zuma.

Since that time, many changes have taken place. President #ThumaMina was elected as the leader of the African National Congress in December 2017. In quick succession, he took over the mantle of leadership of the country and assumed the title of President of the Republic of South Africa. Initially greeted with some euphoria, his presidency has coincided with a confluence of negative factors such as growing joblessness, high fuel prices, a VAT increase, as well as the near collapse of many state owned enterprises such as Eskom, Transnet, SAA, Denel and the Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa.

From the highs experienced in February 2018 during his maiden State of the Nation Address when he called upon all of us to agree to the #thunywad (sent), it seems we are fast reaching lows that none of us could have anticipated at that moment we were all gripped by our collective relief at the demise of the Zuma camp.

More and more, there is a growing chorus of voices beginning to question the Ramafallo’s leadership qualities, with some decrying his lack of leadership on matters of the economy, and some blaming the Nasrec outcome for the half-built house that is his leadership collective.

Yet, many of us can agree that much has changed in the country since #thumamina became a thing. With each passing day, we are reaching new levels of transparency with commission of inquiry after commission of inquiry showing us the true nature of the depths we plunged to under the leadership of Msholozi and his acolytes. More and more, hope is beginning to return, despite frequent setbacks occasioned by bad news on the economic front.

Now is a time for a sober perspective of the moment we are in. We are in a time when all must put shoulder to the wheel and move the country forward from the Doldrums. This requires an acceptance that change is not going to come overnight. It also requires us to accept some level of culpability for the mess that is South Africa and to realise that change takes time and can be very painful when it does come.

Black professionals — at least those who vote for the ANC — must get out in their numbers and contribute their ideas to the project of “de-capturing” the state. We must forcefully counter the pseudo narrative of Msholozi which he advanced during his address at Walter Sisulu University that State Capture is a myth.

Playing semantics, as he seems inclined to do, is not the solution to our problems. Black professionals must flood their branches and put sensible solutions on the table for the myriad problems that South Africa is facing. Such an important job cannot be left to politicians and bureaucrats alone.

Equally important, black professionals must get out of the habit of allowing others to define the South African experience.

In recent months, we have been inundated with the crazy narrative of white persecution visited upon us by AfriForum.

Many of us have sat in our living rooms and laughed about how deranged the leaders of this organisation are. Yet this group represents a danger to the goal of transformation and unity in South Africa. They are a toxic breed that have the tools to undermine all the gains made under this democracy since 1994, however imperfect it may be.

Their global campaign about farm murders and land reform is a threat to the power of citizens of this country to democratically define the terms of their own democratic edifice and to construct a society which strives for a common identity and the economic emancipation of all the people of South Africa.

We will not deal with this threat by burying our heads in the sand or by reacting violently to every incident of naked racism. We will not deal with it by outsourcing the responsibility to politicians.

We will deal with it by ensuring that a progressive narrative is again at the centre of the ANC’s politics and that this party once again reflects the best of who we are as a people. DM

Thembinkosi Gcoyi is the managing director of Frontline Africa Advisory


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