Led into the wolf ’s mouth

Our demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion is all but de­railed. We can no longer af­ford to be lambs and sheep, writes

CityPress - - Voices -

Lately, an­i­mal metaphors and sim­i­les have abounded in our polity. Lions, buf­fa­los and vultures have all fea­tured. But if there is one an­i­mal that de­fines the col­lec­tive lead­er­ship of our coun­try of late, it is that of the genus We are led by lambs and sheep. But we also have a few wolves mas­querad­ing as part of the fam­ily. The lambs go meekly to slaugh­ter. The sheep fol­low blindly. The ra­pa­cious wolves smile se­duc­tively in their woolly dis­guises, wait­ing to feast on these poor crea­tures who think they are their kin. How did we reach the point where rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies have been so tamed and blinded that they could, among other things:

Elect lead­ers with crim­i­nal records and elect oth­ers fac­ing se­ri­ous crim­i­nal charges?

Al­low the abuse of state in­sti­tu­tions for per­sonal agen­das, per­sonal in­ter­ests and to be turned into in­sti­tu­tions de­nuded of any cred­i­bil­ity?

Turn a blind eye to the bla­tant cor­rup­tion and malfea­sance of some of their fel­low min­is­ters, MECs, may­ors, other elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and their of­fi­cials?

Al­low Par­lia­ment to be tram­pled upon as an in­sti­tu­tion, along with at­tacks on the ju­di­ciary and other im­por­tant arms of the state?

Al­most de­stroy the na­tional lib­er­a­tion move­ment and turn it into a shadow of its for­mer self?

The lat­est re­port from the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor is not sig­nif­i­cant for its find­ings; it is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause we all knew what to ex­pect from it.

Since the pe­riod be­fore the ANC’s Polok­wane con­fer­ence in 2007, our coun­try has been in tur­moil.

This tur­moil has largely re­volved around the do­ings and in­ter­ests of one per­son and those loyal to him – Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

Zuma is a brave, revered and much loved cadre of the ANC. He has served the peo­ple of South Africa through his con­tri­bu­tions in the ANC, the trade union move­ment, the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) and Umkhonto weSizwe. Yet it is clear now, as it was even in 2006, that his lead­er­ship is want­ing in many re­spects. Many of those who would pre­vi­ously have sup­ported him, in some cases pro­fessed that they would die for him and in some in­stances would kill for him (such threats have been made), to­day stand in op­po­si­tion to his con­tin­ued hold­ing of of­fice.

How did this hap­pen? De­spite all the crit­i­cisms of him by his com­rades, the me­dia, busi­ness, labour and the peo­ple at large, he has re­mained in power and in of­fice for nearly 10 years. De­spite all the di­vi­sions and the vir­tual de­struc­tion of the ANC and its al­lies, he has main­tained a seem­ingly unas­sail­able hege­mony over the lib­er­a­tion move­ment. The rand has been a ping-pong ball, our mines have been treated as long drops, gov­ern­ment de­part­ments treated as bub­blegum ma­chines and po­lit­i­cal con­fer­ences turned into lit­tle more than bad the­atre.

Our cit­i­zens have been ex­pected to suck this all up. Poverty, inequal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment, de­fined as pri­or­i­ties by the ANC and gov­ern­ment, are stark lega­cies of our ter­ri­ble past. Yet many of our lead­ers have fo­cused on feath­er­ing their own nests, cov­er­ing their own asses, pre­serv­ing their po­si­tions and salaries, and mak­ing sure that they get their busi­ness deals done. We would not be­grudge them their busi­ness in­ter­ests, their large salaries, their lux­ury cars, their gov­ern­ment houses, busi­ness-class travel, and great pen­sions and med­i­cal aids if we were get­ting value for our money.

Their in­ep­ti­tude, their timid­ity, their ob­fus­ca­tion, their un­will­ing­ness to stand up and be counted, has been shock­ing. They have cre­ated a cul­ture of medi­ocrity, where per­for­mance is the least re­quire­ment from any­body in of­fice or in a post. They have waited un­til our coun­try is on the brink of ruin be­fore as­sum­ing any lead­er­ship role. This role they have now been re­duced to is of one who at­tends a march in Pre­to­ria or sup­ports a falsely charged fel­low min­is­ter.

What have they been do­ing in Cab­i­net? In their de­part­ments? In meet­ings of the move­ment? Why has it taken the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor to rekin­dle the revo­lu­tion­ary moral­ity and spirit of the na­tional lib­er­a­tion move­ment? Why have they not held the pres­i­dent to ac­count?

There is no way on earth that other min­is­ters did not know about the Gup­tas. We all did and we are so far re­moved from the po­lit­i­cal elite that we need a tele­scope to see them. There is no way that, dur­ing the cor­rup­tion trial of the pres­i­dent, the machi­na­tions of those who pro­tected him were not known. These were brazenly de­fended in the name of the ANC. There is no way that the ridicu­lous trumped up charges against Pravin Gord­han, Robert McBride and oth­ers were any­thing but a crude at­tempt to oust them from of­fice.

This was ev­i­dent to even lay peo­ple, let alone to le­gal ex­perts. Some of these very peo­ple, those who put Zuma in of­fice and who lit­er­ally purged the move­ment to do so, have lately signed let­ters and pe­ti­tions and ap­peared at meet­ings de­nounc­ing him. Why did they not speak up be­fore? Some will claim that they were, like whites claim about apartheid, “not aware”. Oth­ers will say that they acted in the in­ter­ests of unity to try to en­sure that the ANC re­mained in power. Oth­ers will deny any such thing, as if their new­found revo­lu­tion­ary moral­ity can white­wash the past. Sadly, such ex­cuses do not cut the mus­tard.

The truth is that the po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nomic cul­ture that per­vades our so­ci­ety to­day is not a cre­ation of Com­rade Ja­cob Zuma, but he has clearly ef­fec­tively ex­ploited it. What we see is the in­evitable con­se­quence of class for­ma­tion in our so­ci­ety. Busi­ness was al­ways done this way. First by Ce­cil John Rhodes and his cronies, then by the Oppenheimers, later by the Ru­perts and more re­cently by the Gup­tas. The real­ity is that the ANC was sup­posed to be dif­fer­ent. Its al­liance Phillip Dex­ter with Cosatu and the SACP was sup­posed to make it so, at the very least. Yet these very or­gan­i­sa­tions pro­moted and de­fended the pres­i­dent. They put him in power. They en­abled the very cor­po­rate cap­ture some of them now de­nounce.

Why? How? The truth is that the na­tional demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion is all but de­railed. There is no pro­gramme for so­cial­ism. There is no prin­ci­pled lead­er­ship. In­stead, con­ser­va­tive, racist and naive peo­ple mas­querad­ing as so­cial­ists and lib­er­als have the moral high ground. They are call­ing the tune now. They are lead­ing our coun­try into a neo-apartheid, neo­colo­nial fu­ture. They are able to do so be­cause our lead­ers are a com­bi­na­tion of lambs, happy to be led to the slaugh­ter, sheep, too stupid to see that they should not fol­low, and wolves, who dress up in sheep’s cloth­ing so that they may also feast on the lambs, along with the old rulers. Our rev­o­lu­tion is in a cri­sis be­cause the col­lec­tive lead­er­ship has aban­doned the rev­o­lu­tion. It is, with few ex­cep­tions, fo­cused on its own per­sonal in­ter­est, rather than on the in­ter­est of the na­tion.

Per­haps this re­port will cre­ate the con­di­tions for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the nar­row cases of cor­po­rate cap­ture. It is doubt­ful that it will lead to a proper de­bate on the broader is­sue of a state that serves the in­ter­ests of busi­ness, the wealthy, the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of colo­nial­ism, im­pe­ri­al­ism, apartheid and cap­i­tal­ism. It seems our cit­i­zens are wak­ing up. Let us hope it is not too late.

Only the peo­ple can save South Africa now. Only mass ac­tion by our cit­i­zens can take us from our ovine ex­is­tence to be­ing what we should be – shep­herds. We should be proud hu­man be­ings and equal cit­i­zens of our coun­try. We are not. We are a na­tion of peo­ple who, for the most part, live a squalid ex­is­tence in “poverty, ig­no­rance and dis­ease”. A change of lead­er­ship is re­quired to en­sure that we are led by peo­ple who are com­mit­ted to chang­ing this.

Dex­ter is a politi­cian

PHOTO: DEON RAATH

CON­TRA­DIC­TION Last year, Po­lice Min­is­ter Nkosi­nathi Nh­leko said Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma was not li­able to pay for up­grades at his Nkandla home. This year, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court ruled that Zuma failed to ‘up­hold, de­fend and re­spect’ the Con­sti­tu­tion

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