Open letter to the surviving Rivonia Trialists

2012-10-13 10:48

Dear Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni, Dennis Goldberg and Nelson Mandela, I greet you all in the name of the continuing economic freedom struggle of our people.

Your courage in fighting for the emancipation of our country is greatly appreciated.

I was fed ANC propaganda with my Purity baby food, but I believe the time has come to consciously choose South Africa over the ANC.

The governing party, for many, is like a religion, followed by many without question or doubt.

Surely comrades, your sacrifices were not for a one-party, one-trade union state?

The time for a younger, patriotic and selfless leadership, like yours in 1964, is here.

The thinking public laments our bumpy transition from liberation movement to political party, with some pointing out that a liberation movement has to be centralised and secretive while a modern party in government must be influenced by its members and society, and so be more transparent.

The loss of public trust through daily media exposure of the plague of government corruption, which appears to be condoned by the ANC, is deeply seated.

The public perception is that the Mangaung leadership debate will boil down to who will continue to allow rampant looting of state resources, the dangerous slippery slope of tribalism, or who might make a difference.

Truth be told, the names being bandied about as top contenders are all synonymous with the rot that plagues the movement.

The masses so loved by political party leaders at election time have taken to the streets to voice their dissatisfaction.

Earlier this year, even middle-class ­armchair critics put on their designer sneakers and marched against ­e-tolling, also reportedly shrouded in corruption and an added burden on our ridiculously taxed wallets.

In March, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa informed Parliament that between 2007 and 2010, the most common reason for police crowd management of gatherings was labour-related demands for increases in wages, and that unrest requiring police intervention was related to service delivery issues.

Later in June, City Press reported that 372 protests related to service delivery had been recorded between January and the end of May this year alone.

In 18 years of democracy, we can still blame apartheid for many social ills, but we must also blame our leaders.

The disgraceful and shocking non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo left me cold.

But the worst thing that broke the soul of South Africa during this fateful year of the ANC’s centenary was the shameful Marikana massacre, reminiscent of the Sharpeville slaughter.

It highlighted aspects of every ill plaguing black society under an ANC-led government: police brutality, wage strikes, corporate greed, failure of natural mineral resource redistribution, flawed implementation of black economic empowerment, violent crime, service-delivery failure – including inhumane slum settlements – unemployment concerns and much more.

The man who shoved his way to the front, taking the reins of leadership in this sorry mess, was Julius Malema, a spat-out child of the movement. In the space of a few days, he single-handedly nullified what little trust I had left in the aging ANC leadership.

I was raised by courageous men and women, people like you, the Rivonia Trialists, who now need me to tell them it’s time to let go.

The ANC has never been as self-destructive as it is today.

Cosatu, the ANC-aligned trade union federation, has driven the economy into free fall as the failure of their collective bargaining strategy, designed to perpetuate the racist status quo, is blowing up in our faces with one strike after another.

I’m waiting for them to stop blaming “third-force right wing elements” and take some responsibility.

And let me not get started on the recent madness of more than R200 million-worth of Nkandla renovations, SAA’s R5 billion bailout and the relentless e-toll attitude of government.

In 2009, I took longer than usual to vote in the booth, agonising over putting an X next to the face of a man I instinctively knew was bad news.

My love for the ANC won over my reservations.

In last year’s local government elections, I rebelled, voting for the ANC in my neighbourhood and for another party in the city.

I am sure Joburg Mayor Parks Tau is capable, but my rebellion against a President Jacob Zuma-led ANC began with that ballot paper.

To not vote at all in 2014, as many are threatening, will be to dishonour the memory of my uncle, Lesetja Sexwale, and his many fallen comrades who died in combat for my right to vote.

It will be to disrespect the struggle for which men and woman such as him, men like yourselves, sacrificed their youth.

Personally, it will be a betrayal of little Kay who was badly injured in a cross-border raid in Lesotho in 1982 when the apartheid forces were hunting down Umkhonto we Sizwe combatants like my father and Chris Hani.

I don’t know who I will vote for. All I know is that Zuma will never again hold office with my consent.

I know uncle Lesetja and uncle Chris would not view my choice as a betrayal of their sacrifices. I trust that you won’t either.

I choose South Africa.

» Sexwale is a media and communication strategist with an interest in current affairs and post-apartheid experiences


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