Conscientious, organised civil society must bring change
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.