Con­sci­en­tious, or­gan­ised civil so­ci­ety must bring change

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

Some ANC lead­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives, MPs fear that with­out a po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion their fu­ture is bleak

AT THE height of the civil rights move­ment Martin Luther King Jr warned his fol­low­ers that “the hottest part of hell is re­served for those who stand and stare when there is a moral cri­sis”. This is what in­spired him and his fol­low­ers to pray, march and even face death for the sake of free­dom.

They spoke truth to power. The cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of thou­sands of free­dom marchers was a new aware­ness of the evils of racism and white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal.

While Dr M Luther King, the Black Pan­thers and a host of mil­i­tant groups, black and white, may not have achieved their ideal goals, Amer­ica was never go­ing to be the same again. Fast for­ward to the height of apartheid dic­ta­tor­ship from 1960 to 1990.

The op­pressed masses in South Africa de­cided enough was enough. While the armed wings of the lib­er­a­tion move­ments and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers on Robben Is­land made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the fight against apartheid it was ul­ti­mately the up­ris­ing of mil­lions of pa­tri­ots who dealt the coup de grace to apartheid.

They op­er­ated un­der the tag “rolling mass ac­tion”. The ma­jor­ity were black be­cause they were the most op­pressed.

They were sup­ported by a small but sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of white peo­ple, mostly lib­er­als, in­tel­lec­tu­als, stu­dents, white left, re­li­gious lead­ers, stu­dents and a sprin­kling of rad­i­cal loonies.

The year 2017 may well be de­scribed as the be­gin­ning of our own Arab Spring, with a dif­fer­ence. The rev­o­lu­tion­ary re­bel­lion in the Arab coun­tries was against naked fas­cism and dic­ta­tor­ship. In con­trast, we have a con­sti­tu­tion that is de­scribed as the most pro­gres­sive in the world.

The ral­ly­ing-point for our mil­i­tants is that we must de­fend the con­sti­tu­tion at all costs. The marches which have taken place so far have com­mon ob­jec­tives.

They are racially mixed and in­volve the young, mid­dle aged, ed­u­cated, work­ers, in­tel­lec­tu­als, busi­ness lead­ers, an­gry young peo­ple most of whom are not af­fil­i­ated to any po­lit­i­cal party. Housewives and thou­sands of faith-based ad­her­ents are just sick­ened by ram­pant and ar­ro­gant cor­rup­tion, poverty, un­em­ploy­ment, de­gen­er­a­tion of our coun­try to junk sta­tus, pub­lic scan­dals and loot­ing of state re­sources.

Un­less a res­o­lu­tion is found soon there are omi­nous signs that the sit­u­a­tion will get worse be­fore it im­proves.

Some groups and in­di­vid­u­als are al­ready beat­ing war drums, cre­at­ing no-go ar­eas, threat­en­ing vi­o­lence against per­ceived dis­sent­ing in­di­vid­u­als.

The con­sti­tu­tional mech­a­nism to force Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to va­cate his of­fice is to dis­solve Par­lia­ment and call for new elec­tions. The sec­ond al­ter­na­tive is for the ANC to re­call Zuma from po­si­tions of state pres­i­dent as well as pres­i­dent of the ANC. To suc­ceed, both op­tions would re­quire the sup­port of or con­do­na­tion by the lead­er­ship of the ANC, ei­ther en bloc or at least enough in­di­vid­ual mem­bers of the NEC and ANC par­lia­men­tary cau­cus.

Granted there are still hon­est and ded­i­cated ANC mem­bers, most are swayed by the pol­i­tics of the stom­ach. It would take a highly prin­ci­pled leader to face his wife and chil­dren to de­clare his in­ten­tion to re­sign from Par­lia­ment in which he can no longer serve with a clean con­science.

Their re­sponse is pre­dictable: “Ntate, are you crazy or have you been mis­led by those holier than thou, pas­tors and vet­er­ans? What will the peo­ple say?

“Don’t lis­ten to the anti-Zuma crack­pots.”

At least you can count on your Naledi Pan­dor, Lindiwe Sisulu, Makhosi Khoza, some mem­bers of the SACP, Pravin Gord­han, Jack­son Mthembu, Mce­bisi Jonas, Thabang Mak­wetla and oth­ers like them.

Some fear that with­out a po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion their fu­ture is bleak. Imag­ine newly ap­pointed min­is­ters and deputies aban­don­ing the honey they have hardly tasted. Place your­self in the shoes of ten­der­preneurs who might be un­cer­tain about the se­cu­rity of their loot.

These are mer­ce­nar­ies who will jump ship at the first sign when Zuma goes down.

They will swear they never sup­ported him or they only strate­gi­cally stayed on to “cor­rect” the sit­u­a­tion from in­side.

Sounds fa­mil­iar? Ban­tus­tan lead­ers and col­lab­o­ra­tors with apartheid swore they only re­mained in the sys­tem in or­der to bring about democ­racy.

All things said and done, only a highly con­sci­en­tious and or­gan­ised civil so­ci­ety will change the sta­tus quo. Enough is enough. We de­mand change now.

There is so much at stake that peo­ple can no longer tol­er­ate pre­tenders to the pres­i­dency who are pussy­foot­ing.

Those days are over. Don’t ex­pect peo­ple, not even your ar­dent fol­low­ers, to take the bul­let for you un­less you can demon­strate a will­ing­ness to do like­wise.

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