Weigh Mandela, Mugabe ways
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)