WHY JUJU IS MY MAN
Jacob Zuma’s track record justifies my decision to dump the ANC, writes Gabriel Seeber
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