Weigh Man­dela, Mu­gabe ways

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS -

ZIMBABWE’S Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe and ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe are at log­ger­heads, ac­cord­ing to the me­dia.

In this bit­ter feud, Man­tashe told the me­dia that he had lodged a for­mal com­plaint with his Zanupf coun­ter­part to stop Mu­gabe from mak­ing un­for­tu­nate and un­war­ranted at­tacks on the late Nel­son Man­dela.

In the process, Man­tashe ac­cused Mu­gabe of de­stroy­ing Zimbabwe’s econ­omy.

Mu­gabe was quoted in the me­dia last week as hav­ing said: “Man­dela cher­ished his per­sonal free­dom over the eco­nomic free­dom of his peo­ple, which is why to­day in South Africa ev­ery­thing is in the whites’ hands.”

This, Mu­gabe said, was Man­dela’s big­gest mis­take. He added that he had re­cently asked a min­is­ter in Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s cab­i­net how they han­dled the land is­sue af­ter in­de­pen­dence and why they had left the whites with ev­ery­thing. The min­is­ter is re­ported to have said: “Ask your friend Man­dela.” At a state fu­neral last week, Mu­gabe ex­pressed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments by declar­ing of whites in South Africa: “They are in con­trol of land, in­dus­try and com­pa­nies and are the em­ploy­ers of blacks. These blacks have failed to lib­er­ate them­selves from white supremacy be­cause of what Man­dela did.” In South Africa in 1993 a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment was reached at the mul­ti­party ne­go­ti­a­tions that fol­lowed Codesa, re­sult­ing in the first demo­cratic elec­tion on April 27, 1994, and a new po­lit­i­cal and con­sti­tu­tional dis­pen­sa­tion in terms of the 1996 con­sti­tu­tion. A non-racial lib­eral democ­racy re­placed the pre­vi­ous, dis­cred­ited and op­pres­sive apartheid sys­tem. This sys­tem of lib­eral democ­racy is un­der at­tack not only from Mu­gabe, but from cer­tain po­lit­i­cal quar­ters in South Africa. So for in­stance, ac­cord­ing to Mzwanele (Jimmy) Manyi, South Africa must aban­don its con­sti­tu­tion and em­brace a ma­jori­tar­ian par­lia­men­tary sys­tem to ad­dress so­cio-eco­nomic chal­lenges. Manyi made these com­ments at a meet­ing of the Pro­gres­sive Pro­fes­sion­als Fo­rum af­ter its na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee met in Kwazulu-na­tal at the start of the year. Al­though Manyi does not ex­plain what a ma­jori­tar­ian par­lia­men­tary democ­racy en­tails, it can be pre­sumed he means a sys­tem in which Par­lia­ment is sov­er­eign and, as a re­sult, the ma­jor­ity party, which would be the ANC, would use its ma­jor­ity to gov­ern and leg­is­late with­out the con­straints of a rigid con­sti­tu­tion and an en­force­able Bill of Rights.

Such a rad­i­cal change would in ef­fect amount to a re­turn to the kind of con­sti­tu­tion that pre­vailed un­der apartheid and white mi­nor­ity rule.

There are oth­ers, un­der the ban­ner of crit­i­cal race stud­ies and rad­i­cal po­lit­i­cal change, who are be­lit­tling the Man­dela set­tle­ment and call­ing for a rad­i­cal po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic change, and a re­jec­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion and its val­ues.

They re­ject racial rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and are ob­sessed with “black pain and white guilt” and as a re­sult de­monise white peo­ple to­day for the op­pres­sion of apartheid and colo­nial­ism.

Ex­am­ples are the EFF and its leader, Julius Malema, with its pol­icy of land grabs, by virtue of en­cour­ag­ing the un­law­ful seizure of va­cant and un­oc­cu­pied land, and through in­flam­ma­tory and reck­less state­ments such as “we are not go­ing to kill whites just yet”, as well as fas­cist be­hav­iour and the pan­de­mo­nium they cause in the House of Assem­bly.

South Africa has a con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy, in­volv­ing a supreme, rigid con­sti­tu­tion, in­cor­po­rat­ing an en­force­able Bill of Rights. It was the prod­uct of ex­ten­sive and pen­e­trat­ing ne­go­ti­a­tion from 1990 to 1996, which in­volved a two-stage process, cul­mi­nat­ing in the fi­nal con­sti­tu­tion.

The lat­ter was drafted by the Con­sti­tu­tional Assem­bly, an elected body, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the en­tire na­tion, which gives it moral and po­lit­i­cal le­git­i­macy.

The fi­nal con­sti­tu­tion was part of a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment ne­go­ti­ated by the found­ing fa­thers of the na­tion, in­clud­ing Nel­son Man­dela, Wal­ter Sisulu, FW de Klerk, Joe Slovo, Colin Eglin and Inkosi Man­go­suthu Buthelezi.

The in­or­di­nate prob­lems and chal­lenges that South Africa faces are not the fault of an ex­cep­tional con­sti­tu­tion, but the fault of the cur­rent ANC govern­ment, which finds it­self mired in con­tro­versy, cor­rup­tion and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion.

What is re­quired of the govern­ment is in­spired po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship to ad­dress the vast so­cio-eco­nomic prob­lems, such as poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity of land own­er­ship and other re­sources.

In Zimbabwe, Mu­gabe’s poli­cies have in­deed de­stroyed the econ­omy of that coun­try. In this re­gard Man­tashe is cor­rect. In ef­fect, Zimbabwe is a dic­ta­tor­ship in which Mu­gabe en­deav­ours to re­solve any prob­lems by vi­o­lence and not by peace­ful means, as he did with his bru­tal land re­form pro­gramme, which de­stroyed a thriv­ing agri­cul­tural econ­omy and im­mea­sur­ably im­pov­er­ished the coun­try. He and his po­lit­i­cal hench­men live a lav­ish style while the ma­jor­ity wal­lows in dire poverty.

South Africa is a lib­eral democ­racy, bat­tling to re­solve prob­lem­atic so­cio-eco­nomic is­sues and eco­nomic in­equal­ity within the frame­work of an op­er­at­ing democ­racy. Zimbabwe was a coun­try that at in­de­pen­dence in 1980 had a sin­gu­lar prom­ise and in­or­di­nate prospects for devel­op­ment, but sadly is now a failed state, sub­ject to the whims of a bru­tal dic­ta­tor.

Its won­der­ful peo­ple, the vast ma­jor­ity of whom are long­suf­fer­ing, yearn for mean­ing­ful change and real free­dom.

Al­though in the 23 years of our democ­racy, much has been ac­com­plished, much more is re­quired to re­duce poverty and un­em­ploy­ment and achieve eco­nomic equal­ity.

South Africa is a land of in­fi­nite po­ten­tial that pro­vides a place in the sun for all. In­spired and com­pe­tent po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship could bring pros­per­ity and so­cial jus­tice for all in this coun­try.

GE­ORGE DEVENISH UKZN emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor (Helped draft the in­terim con­sti­tu­tion)

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