Ja­cob Zuma’s track record jus­ti­fies my de­ci­sion to dump the ANC, writes Gabriel See­ber

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Dear Pres­i­dent Zuma

Two weeks ago I had to shift my voter reg­is­tra­tion to where I now live. While I was do­ing that, I shifted my political al­le­giance – I joined the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters (EFF). I say this openly. I joined be­cause I’m tired of the political stale­mate in our coun­try. I joined be­cause I’m tired of South Africa’s over­whelm­ing poverty. It sad­dens me, deeply.

I joined be­cause I have lost faith in the lib­er­a­tion party. I joined be­cause I have no stom­ach for the ne­olib­eral pol­i­tics of the DA.

I be­lieve in the na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of mines (or, at the min­i­mum, ex­treme reg­u­la­tion). I be­lieve in wealth dis­tri­bu­tion. I be­lieve in land resti­tu­tion and re­dis­tri­bu­tion; even the need to do it by force if that’s what it re­quires. I be­lieve in the rights of the work­ers, those who drive and build our econ­omy with their bare hands, who clean our streets, who work the land to feed us.

I be­lieve South Africa needs to en­gage in a new and rad­i­cal so­cial rev­o­lu­tion – to take the pain of it now for a bet­ter fu­ture for all the coun­try’s cit­i­zens.

To un­der­stand why I am here I need to take a step back; I have to take a deep breath. Join­ing has been a long time in com­ing.

In 2009, I was one of the few white South Africans at your in­au­gu­ra­tion on the rolling lawns of the Union Build­ings. So rare was I that I had Ra­dio Malawi and Ra­dio Botswana and ra­dio any­where-else-in-Africa ask­ing me what I was do­ing there and what I thought about our new pres­i­dent.

It’s all good, I said to them. He’s the man and he’s in charge. I gave you a tab­ula rasa, a blank slate ... a space to make your mark, to shift the coun­try for­ward, to merge the in­tel­lec­tual bour­geoisie with the de­mands of work­ing class South Africans – to cre­ate a state of bal­anced de­mands and fur­ther the ANC agenda – the pur­suit of equal­ity in all its forms. You were the pop­u­lar pres­i­dent.

In fact, Pres­i­dent Zuma, my re­la­tion­ship with you is closer than you think. My brother worked for you many years ago and served time for you. You were his com­man­der. So my en­gage­ment with you is vi­car­i­ous but deeply per­sonal. I can tell you that my brother has left South Africa, his shoul­ders heavy with dis­il­lu­sion­ment. I place value on his opin­ions.

I have voted for the lib­er­a­tion party, faith­fully, in ev­ery elec­tion. Who wouldn’t? There have been mer­its and de­mer­its to each suc­ces­sive pres­i­dency, but leap­ing through the “re­li­gion of Nel­son Man­dela” and Thabo Mbeki’s woe­ful Aids-de­nial­ism, my fo­cus is nar­rowed to what has hap­pened since that scorch­ing day at the Union Build­ings in May 2009.

On re­flec­tion, sjoe! It must have been re­ally, RE­ALLY hot: That Zuma Kool-Aid was re­fresh­ing – deep gulps at the end of a bruis­ing political bat­tle, the de­ci­sion de­ci­sive when “I, Ja­cob G, do hereby...” bel­lowed through loud­speak­ers and was an­swered by thun­der­ing sup­port ... This is it! Make no mis­take! You be the man, Mr Pres­i­dent. The bat­tle was bloody but the slate is clean. Take us for­ward, show us what you fought for...

You promised the world, but it was just smoke and mir­rors. You have lurched from one scan­dal to the next. Fail­ure piled on fail­ure. What have you done that is suc­cess­ful? What have you done that you and an ob­jec­tive ob­server could re­ally claim, hon­estly, as a suc­cess of pol­icy?

You may have ne­go­ti­ated peace set­tle­ments in Africa – which have, sadly, sub­se­quently failed. You can’t be blamed for another coun­try’s fail­ures, but you can’t punt them as suc­cesses.

Ser­vice de­liv­ery has stalled – just look at the statis­tics of ser­vice-de­liv­ery protests. State-owned en­ter­prises are in ru­ins, run by your cronies. SAA is broke. Eskom is squeez­ing us all for more cash.

You have been ac­cused, and ac­quit­ted, of rape (by some­one you knew when she was a child – shame on you). You have fa­thered a child with the Iron Duke’s daugh­ter – shame on you. You have many wives and many more chil­dren who we, the tax­pay­ers, sup­port.

Po­lit­i­cally, you have shuf­fled Cab­i­net more times than I can re­mem­ber. We have the largest min­is­te­rial com­ple­ment of any coun­try. Half of the coun­try’s to­tal tax re­ceipts go to pay the state wage bill. Your state has be­come the largest em­ployer.

We pay count­less bil­lions to con­sul­tants who du­pli­cate what your di­rec­tors-gen­eral should be do­ing.

The na­tional bu­reau­cracy is in sham­bles. Cor­rup­tion is ram­pant. The tri­par­tite al­liance is in tat­ters. The real play­ers have aban­doned you and left you with sec­on­drate sub­sti­tutes.

We are a wel­fare state with no hope of jobs. Your min­is­ters have screwed the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and, in the past eight years, you have con­demned yet another gen­er­a­tion to a se­cond-rate ed­u­ca­tion. You have blamed ev­ery­one, every­thing and any­thing but your­self.

Then, of course, there is the ram­pant bull in a China shop – your home.

Your scant achieve­ments will al­ways be over­shad­owed by how you, a com­mu­nist and a lib­er­a­tor, could blow a small for­tune of the pub­lic purse on your per­sonal digs and think that’s ide­o­log­i­cally ac­cept­able. On the scales of progress, your ten­ure falls heav­ily on the side of pa­tron­age, fac­tion­al­ism and per­sonal en­rich­ment. You have fid­dled while Rome has burnt.

Worse still, and per­haps un­wit­tingly, you in­tro­duced the vilest political tac­tic: you ac­cused your ac­cusers to de­fend your­self; you es­tab­lished a now com­monly adopted blunt re­but­tal: your word against my word, buddy. In an in­stant, pol­i­tics be­came a worse and more di­vi­sive busi­ness.

You have been slapped down by the high­est court in the land for fail­ing to up­hold the very prin­ci­ple that you, as pres­i­dent, ought to en­shrine. When you gave your side of the story, it was an em­bar­rass­ment, and you took the na­tion for fools.

I have joined the EFF be­cause I be­lieve, I hope, the rad­i­cal pop­ulism of the fighters will mo­bilise a dis­af­fected youth to stand up and vote; that the youth will shift the sta­tus quo to one of true so­cial equal­ity and have the par­lia­men­tary seats to hold you and your party to ac­count.

I have joined be­cause I want a pros­per­ous South Africa, a coun­try of equal­ity, un­der­stand­ing, friend­ship, love and re­spect.

Sin­cerely, Gabriel See­ber See­ber is the pro­duc­tion editor of City Press


The EFF com­man­der in chief, Julius Malema, was ex­pelled from the ANC be­fore start­ing a move­ment char­ac­terised by red berets and pow­er­ful rhetoric. Many South Africans see the EFF as the an­swer to SA’s woes, and this writer is one of the party’s new sup­port­ers

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