Opinionista Ompha Malima 11 January 2019

Mr President, please pardon the #FeesMustFall activists and stop the moral decay

It is a great injustice to let #FeesMustFall activists languish in prison while those who have been implicated in State Capture roam free. In the current inconvenient climate, I would not blame an anarchist for his views.

Dear Mr President, I would first like to wish you a fruitful 2019. It will be a challenging one.

People at this time of the year normally mull over New Year’s Resolutions in order to improve their lives and do better. As First Citizen you also definitely have them for our fragmented, but nevertheless resilient republic. I also have mine as a common citizen and would appreciate your attention and action.

I write this letter while carrying the yoke of human injustice, particularly perpetrated by the regime you succeeded. I carry the yoke of fruitless and irregular expenditure, sluggish service delivery, broken parastatals, rhetorical public fora, troubled and arrested #FeesMustFall activists and other students, greedy authorities and rampant crime in our communities.

As a young voter, I intend to participate in our complex democracy in 2019. But I do not understand the meaning of democracy when we are still not free from crime and being subjected to injustices by our own state, which is supposed to make life conducive. Mr President, I do not understand the rationale of corrupt ministers and others who have been implicated, to walk free and receive negative reports from the toothless Auditor-General.

I am exasperated, just like my fellow citizens, on the sluggish, or rather the non-prosecution of self-serving officials who disregard our administration and public coffers with impunity. I am exasperated by Parliament’s condemnations through the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and other ad hoc inquiries, all producing damning and unequivocal conclusions, but without criminal charges being laid.

The rhetoric in the public domain is fuelling complicity of the current moral decay and political apathy. I contend that no political manifesto is needed at this current stage to dictate to us what we should do. Practicality should prevail and take charge. I laud your denunciation of the term White Monopoly Capital as it is a Gupta propaganda term used by those who betrayed our revolution.

I also take issue with the broad notion of Radical Economic Transformation (RET) and the abuse it suffers at the hands of your government. First, the transformation is naturally radical as it instigates a dynamic shift. Second, it has not been deliberated on what it actually means except by one Professor Chris Malikane of the University of the Witwatersrand, who poorly and subjectively defined it.

For our government, RET is like a code word for corruption. RET should mean inclusion first of all. It should mean improving our basic education system, mass public infrastructure development, clean and moral governance, employment and strengthening of local industries. RET should function at a benefit and not at a loss.

It is not RET when year by year we have to foot the bill from hard-earned taxes in order to bail out parastatals like Eskom, SAA and the Post Office. Political decisions based on rational economics must be made. It should not be an issue of ANC manifestos and resolutions which are just paper, barely followed and impractical. One would not deny that it is not ANC policy to orchestrate corruption and cripple the republic, but still, they did it.

It then follows that it should not be difficult for the ANC government to clean its house and focus on building the country.

One of the biggest mistakes was to confuse the separation and the link between party and state. Luthuli House is like a consultant to the Union Buildings. It guides Pretoria and Cape Town on how to make and execute policy. This needs objectivity because the aim of politics is to advance the interests of all, regardless of ideological orientation.

The Constitution is clear on the equality of all and the creation of a diverse society. It affords the freedom of belief. The mammoth task of legislation and governance is simply pluralistic in nature — it affords the state the sovereign responsibility to act as a referee to divergent interests and to also play a role in daily life, such as essential services delivery.

Luthuli House blurs the serious implications of this and behaves like it is sovereign. Toeing the party line in Parliament has kept a stormy government in place, it has hampered service delivery and has been indifferent and incongruous with the citizenry. We often take issue when people burn public buildings and protest, but we are hypocritical in turning a blind eye to the reason for the being of such actions.

The Constitution affords everyone the right to safety and freedom of movement, but that is still far from reality. Our mothers and sisters are still being assaulted and raped. I do, however, thank you and acknowledge the Gender-Based Violence Summit you hosted in 2018. We are still afraid to walk some streets, especially at night due to muggings. It is sad when students are being mugged and robbed of expensive and imperative valuables like laptops and cellphones which are bought with our parents’ hard-earned money.

It is very sad and demoralising when our young people who are today’s leaders are mercilessly attacked and murdered in the streets for their valuables. My heart bleeds with the families who have lost their breadwinners, presidents and scientists of tomorrow. Students must graduate and not live in fear. Even in the streets of Pretoria Central Business District, there is an atmosphere of crime and fear. Students are held up with knives after shopping and others are held at gunpoint to withdraw their cash and hand over their bank cards and cellphones.

Our police system must change, we need visible policing and crime intelligence. Police at the moment is seen at a crime scene and not before.

In the current inconvenient climate, I would not blame an anarchist for his views.

It is a great injustice to let #FeesMustFall activists languish in prison while those who have been implicated in State Capture roam free and when (some) still derive benefits such as a salary and a pension. Please, Mr President, pardon these activists. They had sound motives even though I do not condone alleged unruly or unbecoming behaviour. Remember apartheid Mr President, would the ANC not want to be pardoned for supposed crimes against the ruthless state? Remember the bombings, intelligence activities and guerilla actions, remember the public riots. Were they not crimes with rationality? #FeesMustFall is no different even though the subjects of the struggle are different. It was a rational struggle because the students were cognisant that despite the utterances by the likes of the Heher Commission, money was there.

Lest we forget — the money blown during irregular expenditure and corruption could have been spent there. “Free” tertiary education is possible and the protests (including actions taken) were justified, whether right or wrong. Please, Mr President, do not make the struggle to be in vain, I beseech you to grant them full pardons so that they continue to build this glorious republic of ours. DM

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