Unite in igniting opportunity from crisis

2009-09-12 10:40

O our first-year university students are a bunch of illiterates! A new

report shows that our universities have become glorified high schools

because our students can’t read.

For 12 years we pretend to

teach our children when in reality we condemn them to illiteracy. This

is educational genocide against a whole generation.

These are

Madiba’s children and luminaries such as Professor Kader Asmal have

played no small part in this monumental fraud. It is now becoming

impossible to blame apartheid, we have been “free” for 15 years.

As

if that were not enough, the government is currently repossessing the

land of black farmers because they can’t repay their loans. The health

sector remains terminally ill. Unemployment and poverty are soaring and

strikes and service delivery protest are becoming the order of the day.

There

is a global recession caused by greed. Our bewildered government is

giving our money to private companies in an ill-conceived scheme to try

and save jobs. What about the unemployed?

The unions and the

South African Communist Party have become the vanguards of capitalism;

they want to rescue the system instead of building ?alternatives. In

general, things are falling apart and the centre is paralysed.

We

can’t blame President Jacob Zuma for all these ills. They must be

placed squarely at the doorstep of the ANC, right from Nelson Mandela

through to the Thabo Mbeki and Trevor Manuel combo.

Zuma was

with them, to be sure, but he did not create the problem. He merely

inherited it. The tragedy is that Zuma has no vision, plans or appetite

for going beyond the failed policies of his predecessors. The ANC is

condemned to repeat the same policies that benefit only the few. But

the whole thing is destined to implode in its face.

The reigning

policy paralysis provides an excellent opportunity to rethink our

politics, economics and the direction of our societal transformation.

The

Zuma administration could preside over the remaking of our society and

set an example for the whole world. We could ignite a national festival

of ideas. Imagine a genuine national dialogue based on an honest

evaluation of what has gone wrong since 1994 and what we should

collectively do to build a different nation.

I’m not talking

about spot visits to expose some lazy ?mayor of some rural town just to

get brownie points from the media or the spectacle of one- night

sleepovers in a shack that we recently saw.

Secondly, we need to

examine the accountability of our political system. Currently democracy

is a game of promises, lies and rewards for politicians. What happens

to those who ask the population to vote for them under the pretext of

giving our children a good education, only to miseducate them? Well,

they go on to lucrative retirements while the people suffer.

A

friend has suggested a disturbing solution; she says all those who want

to be parliamentarians, ministers and presidents must be directly

elected on the basis of what they promise. If they fail let them be

hanged.

It’s a fair proposal; that way you enter politics knowing the cost of lying and failure

A

national rethinking process should not be led by “intellectuals”,

academics or “commentators”. This lot actually hates thinking and has

no imagination at all.

However, more than thinking we need a

political leadership that is brave and honest enough to go against

orthodoxies. Will the ANC under Zuma accept the logic of the people

when they say they are still waiting for uhuru?

Will it listen

and stop serving white capital and its BEE sidekicks at the expense of

the black majority? Can it drop the outmoded economic mantras and

return the land and wealth to the people? Will it stop state violence

against the poor?

Now is the time to open the floodgates of

ideas beyond the narrowness of electoral politics. We need to try

participatory democracy. It may be the answer.

    *  Mngxitima is the publisher of New Frank Talk 

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