Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh: Why I wrote Mr President

2014-04-27 06:00

There is a fine line between liberator and tyrant, and history often casts the same character in both roles.

Twenty years ago, baba uZuma was a liberator: he had survived a decade on Robben Island, put his life in danger serving the underground liberation movement and played a seminal role in the negotiations that secured the South African Constitution.

But 20 years can change a man. Twenty years can change a movement. And 20 years on, the liberator has become a tyrant.

I wrote Mr President because the silent majority must be reawakened.

There is a sleeping giant in this country that has the power to banish the Zuma cabal once and for all, if only it realises its power.

That giant is the UDF activist and the restless young shack dweller who defiantly dons a red beret.

It is the voice that speaks out from within the ANC, and the suburban white student who commits her future to this country.

It is the imam and the priest and the pandit and the rabbi who urge their congregations to take a stand.

It is Cope, it is Agang, the DA and the PAC, and it is those who just don’t know.

This sleeping giant must be awakened because the moral indefensibility of the “Marikandla” era is now beyond debate.

From the unanswered corruption charges to the mysteries that surround the NPA; from botched appointments to dubious reinstatements; from Guptagate to Nkandlagate; from Marikana to Macia; from the spy tapes to the Secrecy Bill; from censorship to The Spear; from textbooks to Travelgate; and from misogyny to the deafening silence over homophobia.

Our democratic foundations are strong, but what good is a house with sturdy foundations and no roof?

Either we stand by and wait for chaos, or we, as citizens, take it upon ourselves to bring this regime down, powerfully but peacefully.

The ANC could help itself and South Africa by taking this step internally, but if it won’t, why can’t we engage in mass-based, peaceful protest on the grounds of the Union Buildings until, and only until, Zuma steps down?

Would this not allow Zuma to have his day in court? Would it not allow real accountability over his role in Nkandla?

Would it not permit a more credible investigation into Marikana and the arms deal? Would we not see better appointments in crucial institutions over the next five years?

Would it not restore citizens’ confidence in the democratic project? Would it not send a message across the continent that we will not tolerate another dictator?

Would it not allow the establishment of a truly independent corruption-fighting state agency? Zuma is not the source of all of our county’s problems, but his removal would solve many of the most important immediate ones.

Mr President is a call to action.

It is a message to that small group, clinging to political power as it holds the country to ransom, that their time is running out and that “we won’t retreat”.

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