We must prepare for a post-Zuma SA
As the momentum against President Jacob Zuma and his cohorts gathers steam, the real issue is to focus our attention on the pathology of a post-Zuma South Africa – the DNA of the next era of South Africa’s democracy.
It is not enough to get rid of Zuma and then relax. We have to make sure that we “never, never and never again” – in the words of Nelson Mandela – land up in a situation where we put the interests of our leaders before those of our democratic project and the country as a whole.
In identifying suitable candidates – be they from the ANC or not – we need to clearly define the characteristics of our post-Zuma leadership.
We need to involve all South Africans in thinking, talking and participating in a conversation about the values we want our new leaders to embody.
We need to have a clear set of parameters for good leadership and measure any potential leaders against those values.
We need to ring-fence the next generation of leaders from contamination, corruption or capture.
We need to make sure that there is no room to move and no space for seduction by forces opposed to democracy.
We need to hold them to account, day after day after day, if we are to achieve the dream we held as we overthrew apartheid.
The Save SA campaign, which I am part of, focuses on ridding South Africa of Zuma and, in so doing, stopping the wicked project to capture the state. We do not believe it is possible to rid ourselves of state capture for as long as Zuma remains president.
It follows a number of attempts by civil society over the years to stop the looting of state resources and to get the president to step down.
While similar to these previous attempts, the Save SA campaign is also different.
It is similar in that it aims to stop the rot and end state capture, thereby ending the frolics of our corrupt leadership.
It is also different because it is not only focused on the removal of a corrupt leadership, but also committed to finding ways of ensuring that we do not err in the same way again.
For this reason, we have been able to attract a broader church of civil society voices than ever before – not to mention almost every single political party that has representation in Parliament.
Over the next few weeks, more people from organised labour, women’s groups and youth formations will be joining us in a remarkable resurgence of civil society activism, as South African democrats find their voice.
I truly believe we have a window of opportunity – partly because of the buffoonery of the architects of state capture, who seem to be their own worst enemies at the moment, but also because South Africans are sick and tired of this nonsense and want it to stop. We want to stop the Zuma nightmare and begin to dream again.
We must neither waste the opportunity we have now, nor fall into the traps left behind by those making their retreat as the voice of the people becomes louder and louder.
We must be honest about the mistakes that were made and the blunders that led us into what we are today: a hollow state, captured by devious business interests, and a playground for the corrupt and those addicted to the abuse of power.
We must be vigilant. We must also be firm in ensuring that the democratic project stays on course.
We must use our energies to continue to drive change – in politics, in business, in faith-based organisations and in communities.
We must continue to build a society founded on social justice, equality and democratic principles.
We must outlaw looting, theft, corruption, the abuse of power, the contamination of state institutions, the distortion of the justice system for political gain and the complete disrespect for our Constitution.
We must outlaw people who complain when they are caught out disrespecting the Constitution, and boast that they are not afraid to go to jail for doing so.
We must insist on a common understanding of the qualities of leadership.
We must insist on respect for our Constitution – in particular, for the Bill of Rights – and for our flag, our state institutions and, ultimately, our sovereignty.
And we must hold our leaders accountable, be they community or business leaders, shop stewards, ward councillors, mayors, premiers, MPs or ministers.
We must reject those campaigning against the democratic project who are intent on using state resources for nefarious means. They must be stopped.
It is imperative for us to build a society founded on the democratic values we fought for, values enshrined in our Constitution. This is an edited extract of a speech delivered by
Pityana, a businessman and Save SA activist, in Pretoria on Thursday at the launch of Rogue: The
Inside Story of Sars’s Elite Crime-busting Unit