Defend Truth


To Ace Magashule: The people have decided they want ethical leadership, and they will have it


Oscar van Heerden is a scholar of International Relations (IR), where he focuses on International Political Economy, with an emphasis on Africa, and SADC in particular. He completed his PhD and Masters studies at the University of Cambridge (UK). His undergraduate studies were at Turfloop and Wits. He is currently a Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Fort Hare University and writes in his personal capacity.

We will go to the polls on 8 May and we will cast our vote for democracy. We will send a clear message to the leadership of all parties that we want our dignity back, we want a clean administration and we don’t want to be the laughing stock of the continent and the world any longer.

There are two types of approach in life. One of optimism and one of pessimism. Now, I’m the first to say that’s it’s not always cut and dried or simple, but for the sake of argument let’s go with this logic for now.

Pessimism tells us that war is indeed coming on 9 May 2019. This we know, and I have written lots about it in recent months. Undoing the criminalisation of our state, which happened in the main over the past 10 years, is not going to be easy and those responsible for taking us to the brink of a failed state are not waiting about for the hangman, so to speak.

It’s all true, the real war indeed will commence on 9 May and yes, we will have to prepare ourselves for it. We have seen President Cyril Ramaphosa’s strategy: Let the law enforcement agencies do their work, investigate, collect evidence of wrongdoing and then prepare the charge sheet and prosecute.

Trading space for time, as some of you may know, is what the Russian generals’ strategy was in World War II. Make the enemy think he is advancing towards total takeover and victory (space), but in actual fact, the president is playing for time. Because over time, the NPA, IPID, SAPS and others will be ready to execute what needs to be executed.

I agree with some — if only the president had more time — but he doesn’t. The legal route is arduous and long because that is justice, presumed innocent until proven guilty, appeals to the Supreme Court of Appeal and of course the court of last resort, the Constitutional Court. A process that can and will take about two years — and that’s just for one of the suspected guilty parties. There are plenty of suspects, as we know, and we have seen former president Jacob Zuma demonstrate and perfect these delaying tactics in avoiding justice.

Are there any quick fixes? Probably not.

In steps the optimistic view. Minister Pravin Gordhan and his team at Eskom are slowly but surely getting on top of the Eskom problem. It will still mean some load shedding, but minimised over the next few months, with a clear plan of how to finally solve the challenge in the long run.

As for the rating agencies, I don’t think it’s about liking President Ramaphosa or not, it’s politics and always has been so. If the current leadership can demonstrate that there is at least a plan in place and that it is being executed, then this satisfies some of the agencies to give the country a breather.

After all, what is with this desperation to receive junk status, as if it’s going to make some of us happy? Also, RW Johnson predicted some years ago that we were on the doorstep of the IMF. It didn’t happen. I see now, in order to sell his latest book, he is still clinging to this claim.

Perhaps eventually we will make a turn at the door of the IMF, but the whole point of such predictions is that they happen within a reasonable period from the time the prediction is made, and not several years later. Again, I’m not sure what some of us will benefit from with this prediction coming true. Is it just the satisfaction that the prediction was correct or that these blacks actually cannot govern, and I told you so?

Yes, it’s gonna get ugly, which is why one must also ask the question, no matter how difficult, about what can be done to avert such a war.

In the movie 13 Days, which deals with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, President John F Kennedy was placed in a very difficult position by the Russians insisting that they wanted to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba, just a few miles off the coast of the United States.

What to do about this impending war situation? The hawks among his administration were vying for all-out war, while the moderates were angling for a different approach. In the end, it became clear that, publicly, President Kennedy had to be seen to be the tough guy – after all, he could not be seen to be soft on the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

So a plan had to be devised to engage the Russians, away from the eyes of the media and pundits. Here the two parties, both wanting to save face, had to come to some compromise to avert a war. Could this be a lesson we could learn from, I wonder?

We have an inherent moral compass in South Africa and we cannot compromise on this. It seems to me that all civilisation’s successes were about looking to the future and not squabbling over the small things in the present. It’s as if we don’t have any pride left. Let us not lose focus on our vision for a better South Africa, a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.

Now, since it is clear to many that Ace Magashule and his cronies don’t care about all of this vision and nation-building stuff, let me be clear about this war coming on 9 May.

There is one stakeholder you are forgetting, and may I remind the NEC of the ANC, including Ace and his cronies, that stakeholder is the people.

Don’t undermine us. Our vote for Cyril is not misinformed. You might want to believe that we are uninformed people, but we are not. Our vote matters and we will defend it. If you think it’s just a showdown between Magashule and Ramaphosa, well let me tell you Ace, you mess with our president which we will be giving a handsome mandate to, you mess with the wrong people.

If you think that we will stupidly stand by when you fabricate some silly reasons as to why the president must be recalled, or better yet, if you think a no-confidence vote is what will break the camel’s back, you’d better think again.

We will go to the polls on 8 May and we will cast our vote for democracy. We will send a clear message to the leadership of all parties that we want our dignity back, we want a clean administration and we don’t want to be the laughing stock of the continent and the world any longer.

We want ethical leadership and we want all those that corrupted our state to be brought to book.

If you and any other people think that you can simply take that away from the people, because you want to protect your own behinds, think again, think again.

The people that poured out on to the streets prior to Nasrec and said “No” to you and Zuma, and those that voted for change at Nasrec, will not allow that you or your cronies take our vote for naught.

So, bring on that war that you have been plotting over the past months, ready your army of bandits, for you will face the wrath of the people of Mzansi.

Be warned, danger, gevaar, ingozi! DM


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