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Let's shout at the top of our voices and make it imposs...

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Opinionista

Let’s shout at the top of our voices and make it impossible for incompetent Cabinet ministers to talk down to us

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Thamsanqa D Malinga is director at Mkabayi Management Consultants; a writer, columnist, and political commentator, as well as author of Blame Me on Apartheid and A Dream Betrayed.

As the ANC sent a message from its offices in Lusaka back in the eighties and encouraged us to ‘make the country ungovernable’, we should make publicity stunts by Cabinet members ungovernable.

I have written extensively on the gloomy situation our country is facing. Like other social and political commentators, I have bemoaned the unscrupulous leadership that we have given the responsibility, through our vote, of steering this country. I have called on South Africans to rise at the government’s lack of willingness to make this country the African dream that our grandparents had envisaged, which was sold in the run-up to the dawn of democracy.

Of late I have found myself being taken back to words that a friend uttered in a moment of conspicuous consumption of the waters from the pharaohs’ barrels. About a decade ago, on a Friday evening, my friend dropped what would be a bombshell: “We should have an exit strategy, I tell you,” Lehlohonolo Mphuthi quipped, “even if it means taking our families to the UK and we start life there waiting on tables. At least that would mean we have taken our children to an environment where they could start life in a different context.”

All I could muster as I reflected on this statement was “what type of thinking is this from a young black man? We do not have the privilege of joining the sardine-like, Australian emigration run of the early nineties”.

I am now asking if I wasn’t too naïve in dismissing what my good old friend Hloni Mphuthi suggested. The reality is that authorities seem not to care about the direction the country is taking – I guess it is much better to just keep on dishing out grants to keep the citizens docile.

With the governing party heading to its policy and later national conference, South Africans have been left aground, the only thing that matters now is who gets a position from the local branch up to the provincial level. Senior leaders are besotted with making it to the top positions come the national conference in December.

What makes matters worse is that with the ANC at war with itself, voters are not just neglected, their state machinery – government offices and their budgets, human resources and other means that could ensure efficient delivery of services to the masses – is used for party political battles. Yes, we are not blind to the abuse of state resources in party factional battles – the police services, intelligence and judiciary to mention a few. We have been here before, many times.

Some among us have written, others have marched, while a large segment of our people have gone on to burn and destroy the derelict infrastructure that they have because of the frustration of being neglected and sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.

All these actions by the populace have amounted to nothing. The ANC and its gluttony have led to loss of hope. The party’s declining number of voters, with every election, bears testimony to that. The 15 million job seekers – as reported by Statistics SA – who have abandoned hope in looking for employment are a grim reality of the state of our being.  

What’s new, you may ask. Why write all of this as we live and experience it daily? Why preach to the converted? Must South Africans exit their country as proposed by my inebriated friend? Even if South Africans decide to abandon ship, only a teardrop can afford to.

Well, the recent screaming by ministers Bheki Cele and Pravin Gordhan at members of their audience is a plausible idea. We have been listening to Cabinet members and their party to such an extent that we have been zombified and turned into docile beings. We have been made to “sit down and listen” as if we are children, whose intellect is not fully developed, with every appearance by a Cabinet minister who expects pomp-filled self-gratification exercises that we must marvel at and applaud as if the incumbent has saved the world from extinction.

The heckling of ministers as well as the head of state should be the order of the day, especially when they’ve come to speak to communities as a media blitz.

Just as the ANC sent a message from its offices in Lusaka back in the eighties and encouraged us to “make the country ungovernable”, we should make the publicity stunts by Cabinet members ungovernable. We have burned, looted and vandalised everything to the extent that we are almost without a country. Don’t get me wrong, not all dereliction of the country is our fault. Largely it is due to the governing party, its “deployed” Cabinet and scavenging party members who, through their use of the black, green and gold membership card, have turned our country into a dystopian state.

We have our voices. And so, we must shout at the top of our voices and make it impossible for these incompetent and unscrupulous Cabinet ministers and their party comrades to spew rhetoric and expect us to clap and hoist them aloft as saviours. We should no longer be seen as docile voting fodder. No way.

South Africans must reclaim their voice, we must take back our power. No one should be given a talking to, in fact a Cabinet member – including the deputy ministers (that useless lot who got jobs through their party’s jobs for pals’ policy) – and other members who serve the party in Parliament should be shouted down.

This is not a vague and unrealistic call. We should make sure that they come and listen to our needs and get mandates from affected communities. Only then can they speak and commit themselves to act and upon their return (in a specified time frame) they can come back to face a question-and-answer session on what action they have taken. If all they do is come back to spew bile, then they should be heckled off their high horses.

For too long we have been subjected to long speeches that throw numbers about. We are subjected to ribbon-cutting ceremonies of “opening” this or that sub-standard bridge, road with such events complemented by empty promises. We have been subjected to Cabinet members reading through pages that you can clearly see they are seeing for the first time. We have been subjected to ministers who take to the podium to praise themselves.

I am reminded of how Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, in his maiden Budget speech boasted, “niyabona ndi-generous njani?” (do you see how generous I am?). The nerve! The man spoke as if the money came out of his pocket, all to the laughter of his party colleagues. This is the mentality we need to strip off our Cabinet. Their condescending way of seeing themselves as superior beings and royalty that South Africans should praise on sight and beg when destitute should be shouted down.

We have been held spellbound for far too long. We need to claim our voices and talk back. We must not fear heckling any Cabinet member who thinks he or she is lord of our lives, be it RET, Thuma Mina, or any Tom, Dick and Harry faction of the governing party.

We do not have an exit strategy, nor will we plan to leave. We will not abandon South Africa because of the ANC and its abuse and destruction of our country. We must start now and push back, using our voices, if that’s what it takes to get them to understand that we are tired of their lies, their malfeasance, their abuse of our votes and the state machinery of the Republic.

Then in 2024, we heckle them with our vote. DM

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