Boo to you

2013-12-22 14:00

The right to voice our disapproval is an ideal we have fought for and achieved.

The reason a reportedly mentally ill fake sign language interpreter can “dupe” various levels of government protocols by finding himself on a world stage, making a mockery of the memorial service of one of the greatest human beings to have walked alongside us on this earth, is the same reason the ministers of the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster, together with the minister of public works, can sit in front of countless cameras and microphones, and lie to a mourning country about the sordid Nkandla mess.

I find it incredulous that they expect us to lap it up after their brazen efforts to bully the Public Protector.

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is the same reason those responsible for the sign language interpreter fiasco would rather downplay the embarrassing security breach and focus their attention on a witch-hunt looking for those who booed a sitting president.

I don’t suppose it was fun for Zuma and his cohorts to watch former president Thabo Mbeki, the man they unceremoniously removed from power, cheered like a long-lost hero – together with foreign presidents greeted like rock stars.

It is the reason we are a nation in crisis and it is there for the world to see on live TV.

Horrified as I was as the booing happened at the most inappropriate of events, in hindsight I found it a fitting tribute to an ungovernable cadre that we were bidding farewell.

The death of Nelson Mandela brought us to our knees as a nation, as we ask ourselves how we can further his legacy of demanding the free and just South Africa that he demanded from the docks at the conclusion of the Rivonia Trial, where he knew that he and 10 others faced a possible death sentence for their revolutionary stance to take up arms in demanding equal rights for all South Africans through armed struggle.

“All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle [of white supremacy] had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the government. We chose to defy the law.”

Mandela said this on April 20 1964 to a white judge who was to sentence him to life in prison, where he languished for 27 years refusing to back down on the demand for an equal society.

He was not alone in our well-documented struggle, but it was his face on the posters of the global anti-apartheid movement that worked hard to conscientise the world about our struggle for human rights.

Though not a matter of life and death, a fatigued populace is choosing to defy the law on Zuma’s e-tolls. Our struggle continues as we battle to achieve economic freedom for all, 19 years after political freedom has been achieved.

Last year in October, I wrote an open letter to the surviving Rivonia Trialists (City Press October 13, 2012) in a moment of despair, lamenting the state of the ANC and that of the nation.

I have on many occasions and on many media platforms made it clear that I am ANC bred. I love the ANC, but for the life of me, I cannot defend this tragedy that has unfolded before our eyes. As Cassius said to Brutus: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars but in ourselves because we are underlings.”

Is it not time for us to separate the ANC from the wrongdoings of a single man and his praise singers?

I am appalled at what my movement is being turned into and that it is used as a vehicle for personal accumulation. I am embarrassed to say the least. I’m hoping that before we go to the polls in 2014 that the moral compass of the movement of OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Solomon Mahlangu and the many heroes and heroines of our struggle is restored.

The struggle was not fought so that ministers could attempt to dupe us into believing an explanation fairy tale writers would envy when justifying the Nkandla spending spree, synonymous with the Zuma regime; reinventing an amphitheatre as a retaining wall, justifying a chicken run for fear of intruders hiding with chickens, building an expensive cattle kraal to keep the cows “from disturbing and damaging electronic equipment and the fence”.

For fear of Zuma’s thatched houses (which we are emphatically told are paid for by him) burning, the swimming pool we have paid for is now referred to as a fire pool “as the most viable option for firefighting”.

Then there is the part about neighbours being moved as they may be a security threat.

Isn’t Zuma flaunted as a “people person”? Since when did his neighbours become a security threat? Seven contractors did not have security clearance and could have planted bombs within the bunkers. I am not a comedy writer, so I will steer clear of the tuck shop and high heels explanations.

There once walked a man among us who gave us hope that all would be well with this amazing nation if we worked together as one.

In the days since his death, much has been said about Mandela, the face of our struggle, and the face of our negotiated settlement that gave rise to a democratic society.

His last gift to us is giving South Africans the freedom to boo a sitting president in front of his global peers on a world stage.

Today I boo too, as Zuma cements my long-held view that he is not what our beloved South Africa needs to move forward into the next 20 years to build on Madiba’s vision of A Better Life For All.

» Sexwale is a media strategist and social commentator with a special interest in politics and post-apartheid experiences. She was fed ANC propaganda with her Purity baby food

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