The power is in our hands

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

SEA­SONED jour­nal­ists and car­toon­ists across South Africa just can­not get a move-on be­cause Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma stub­bornly con­tin­ues to hog the head­lines as well as the car­toons. Satur­day’s Week­end Ar­gus was op­ti­mally and di­versely de­voted to Zuma.

The ed­i­tor had to treat a hack­neyed sub­ject with some eye-catch­ing and de­li­cious vo­cab­u­lary, say­ing that “those pay­ing for state cap­ture ei­ther through tax or fealty or both – feel im­po­tent in the face of such mas­sive and cal­lous in­sou­ciance”.

That is in­deed so. Zuma’s cheer­ful lack of anx­i­ety and con­cern arises from the knowl­edge that Min­is­ter of Po­lice Fik­ile Mbalula and oth­ers in the cab­i­net and the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil (NEC) have his back.

Writer An­drew Don­ald­son drew at­ten­tion to Mbalula de­fi­antly say­ing to The Star news­pa­per that vet­er­ans and stal­warts were the real prob­lem. Just like the white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal­ists, the “filthy and stink­ing rich” had no busi­ness try­ing to black­mail him and his fel­low NEC mem­bers. Wow!

Just over a year ago, Zuma had fa­mously asked in Par­lia­ment: “Ask Jonas or Gup­tas about this of­fer. Don’t ask me… where do I come in?”

The ma­jor­ity of NEC mem­bers are equally of the same mind. They also want to know where Zuma comes into the pic­ture in re­spect of state cap­ture.

To for­tify his stance, Zuma is now say­ing to the op­po­si­tion par­ties: “South Africa is not on the road to be­ing a failed state…You need to free your­self from your party’s pro­pa­ganda and hon­estly track the progress that South Africa is mak­ing.” Wow, again!

Zuma’s rosy por­trayal of present­day South Africa calls to mind Shake­speare’s, “Why, I can smile, and mur­der while I smile”. Zuma’s laugh­ter, trag­i­cally, is no laugh­ing mat­ter at all. That he can­not stop laugh­ing while pre­sid­ing over the mind­less loot­ing of the South African state is deeply wound­ing to the na­tion. He is a man con­tent with what he is do­ing.

Wil­liam Saun­der­son-Meyer points out that Zuma needs to fear no one be­cause he has made him­self “im­mune to a palace coup”. He did so “through care­ful ap­point­ments and cal­cu­lated culling”. The na­tional debt is now R2.263 tril­lion or 47% of GDP. The cost of ser­vic­ing that debt is R162.4 tril­lion.The loot­ing that is go­ing on in state en­ter­prises is mind­bog­gling. Transnet is re­ported to have paid a stag­ger­ing R93 mil­lion with­out a ten­der to a com­pany with a Gupta link. The same role-play­ers en­tered into a kick­back agree­ment with Transnet to­talling R5.3 bil­lion. For ev­ery lo­co­mo­tive bought from a Chi­nese man­u­fac­turer for R50m, a Gupta-linked as­so­ciate gets a whop­ping R10m. The rad­i­cal loot­ing is so dras­tic and so per­va­sive that South Africa is speed­ing to­wards be­com­ing a failed state.

With­out the con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated in­ter­ven­tion of the ju­di­ciary, the hope­less sit­u­a­tion we are in will have given way to un­mit­i­gated dis­as­ter.

The rul­ing party sees no wrong and stands to ap­plaud Zuma in the half-empty Par­lia­ment as he comes to speak. Their de­fence on his be­half, in­side and out­side of Par­lia­ment, is ro­bust and un­re­lent­ing.

Vot­ers need to or­gan­ise them­selves struc­turally and or­gan­i­sa­tion­ally into pow­er­ful vot­ing as­so­ci­a­tions or blocs to achieve a com­mon pur­pose. Job cre­ation, trans­for­ma­tion of the econ­omy, ed­u­ca­tion, gen­der equal­ity, se­cu­rity, pro­mo­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion and other such is­sues are cry­ing out to be ad­dressed. If voter blocs were to be formed in South Africa, a bal­ance of power will oc­cur. At present, about 50 mem­bers of the ANC NEC have to­tal power over the lives of 50 mil­lion peo­ple.

The im­po­tence that cit­i­zens feel at the mo­ment comes from an ab­sence of be­long­ing to a group that has clout and can there­fore hold the gov­ern­ment ac­count­able. Such a power bloc does not ex­ist. Cit­i­zens have to man­i­fest a much greater strength than Cosatu, SACP, stal­warts, the Gaut­eng ANC, churches and aca­demics.

Those who have achieved state cap­ture are part of a very well or­gan­ised and in­flu­en­tial net­work, as the leaked emails are show­ing. If cit­i­zens in each street, each lo­cal­ity, each city and each prov­ince can be­come part of a Vot­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa, power will once again re­side with the peo­ple. A democ­racy has to be owned and nur­tured by the peo­ple. It does not work through prox­ies – par­tic­u­larly not out­ra­geously cor­rupt prox­ies.

My plea is for those who read this to take the ini­tia­tive and be saved.

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