We, members of the African National Congress (ANC), owe the nation an unqualified apology for the unparalleled scale of destruction that took place in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)and Gauteng on 8 July and continued for more than a week thereafter. We, and we alone, are responsible for kindling the mayhem whose final toll defies computation.
What is known is that to date more than 350 people lost their lives. Unknown is the number of others who died because they were denied access to life-saving medical attention at a time when the nation was grappling with the dreadful Covid-19 Delta variant. These deaths will have occurred as a result of the mindless ambulance hijackings, looting of pharmacies and a blood bank, the pillaging of warehouses and random road blockages. Some of the most vulnerable members of society were left without means of sustenance.
People are now spending a lot of time looking for food and waiting long hours in queues where they find it. Job losses, most keenly felt among the low skilled, are said to exceed a couple of hundred thousand. There aren’t adequate words to describe the ruthless pummeling of the economy that, inter alia, incapacitated the nation’s major export-import artery, the N3; had long-haulage trucks set alight; and put Durban, our busiest port, temporarily out of commission.
To paraphrase Charles Dickens, we of the ANC have visited upon the nation a veritable winter of despair, which led to death and destruction. It mostly punished the poor, a high percentage of whom we created on our watch, because of inappropriate policy options and misgovernance.
When the Constitutional Court ordered Jacob Zuma to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to respond to about three dozen allegations of corruption against him, he refused. He was slapped with a contempt of court charge. Believing he could disregard laws that govern everybody else in the country, Zuma spurned participation in judicial processes he despised. So, he was tried in absentia.
On 29 June the court unanimously found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to 15 months of imprisonment. The term was to start within five days of the judgment, failing to obey which, the apex court directed the police minister and the police commissioner to ensure that he was taken to prison within three days.
True to character, he ignored the court’s deadline and had to be escorted to the Estcourt Correctional Centre by the police, minutes before the set time elapsed. This triggered the excuse the instigators of the 8 July violence had been waiting for. We of the ANC apologise that we elected such a person ANC president and, because you gave us the largest number of seats in Parliament, he also became the president of South Africa.
We also apologise that for many years disgruntled ANC members worked overtime making provocative utterances, totally unrestrained by us. In February 2021 already, members of our wayward Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) went to Nkandla and camped outside Zuma’s homestead, ready, so they said, to stop any law enforcement officer from arresting Zuma.
For years, we of the ANC gave this group carte blanche to be a public nuisance, instead of concentrating on what it was established to do, namely, to help desperately poor military veterans who participated in the liberation struggle, but have since fallen on hard times.
Instead, the MKMVA allowed itself to be misled by shady characters, who randomly incited them to take to the streets and demand jobs, ahead of the rest of the citizens, because they “fought for the liberation of this country”. Much as they deserve jobs, it was never meant to be done in a discriminatory fashion. We of the ANC apologise for this. We know the MKMVA rank and file did this because their political leaders were in the habit of giving jobs to their friends and forgot about them.
We also know that despite strenuous denials, the MKMVA participated in attacks on African migrants. Also, there are people in the ANC who profess “Radical Economic Transformation” (RET). This brigade says it owes its loyalty to Zuma and claims that his skirmishes with the judiciary are politically motivated. They say he is persecuted because of his principled opposition to “White Monopoly Capital”.
The only problem is that they can’t show anyone any RET programmes Zuma pursued or the struggles he waged against “White Monopoly Capital” during his two-term presidency. Since these are intelligent people, we of the ANC believe these people have an ulterior motive. As Zuma’s arrest drew closer, the RET warned that his imprisonment would spark civic unrest and they worked assiduously to bring that about. We of the ANC apologise that we didn’t do anything about this.
The ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) has always been divided about how to relate to Zuma despite the enormous problems he has created for the ANC and the country. Anyway, the NEC cancelled its meeting at the beginning of July and sent some of its senior people to Nkandla to “ensure that the situation [did] not become volatile”.
This would be laughable if it had not been for the seriousness of the matter. Among the people sent to Nkandla were Zuma acolytes who knew about the sabotage campaign that was planned if Zuma was arrested. The NEC said it sent a balanced delegation to Nkandla. No sooner were the ANC notables in Nkandla than Tony Yengeni mounted the stage, with the suspended ANC secretary-general and the redoubtable Carl Niehaus, and shouted his support for Zuma — all in the glare of media cameras. We of the ANC apologise for the naivete of our leaders.
We have noted with deep embarrassment a minister publicly contradicting the president. We were also ashamed to see two ministers engaging in a public spat. We of the ANC apologise for this. We have been requested by some fishermen to convey their message to the president.
It suggests that when one day, hopefully soon, the president contemplates reducing his unwieldy Cabinet while also making essential replacements, he might wish to consider casting his net beyond the NEC pool and look at the shoal swimming in fresher water in Parliament. Failing that, they fear, he might never achieve herd immunity against incompetence and corruption in his administration. DM
Britain's Scotland Yard is built atop the site of an unsolved crime scene.
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