ANC is entitled to prof’s vote

2009-03-30 00:00

Over the last 10 years or so, I have been an ardent reader of Professor Colin Gardner’s opinion pieces published weekly by The Witness. The richness of scholarship depicted in his opinion pieces underscored the incisive intellect and dexterity. With brutal frankness, the same cannot be said about his recent article published on March 26, titled “Dissenting Supporters”. After I had read it for the second time, words of philosopher Bertrand Russell came rushing to my mind: “It is only in marriage with the world that our ideals can bear fruit: divorced from it, they remain barren. But marriage with the world is not to be achieved by an ideal which shrinks from facts, or demands in advance that the world shall conform to its desires.”

It was my intention to intellectually lynch my former professor of English and also my former Speaker of Msunduzi Municipality. But the decorum with which he treats any person compelled me to review my initial intent. In a nutshell, the opinions he expressed are not only recycled newspaper views or dinner-table discussions but they lack that intellectual vigour and sharpness that typified him. In fact, they are misplaced and there is an element of amnesia.

It is interesting to note that Gardner refers to himself as an ANC supporter, not a member. Why? ANC voters should not even entertain any vile idea as propagated by Gardner, come April 22.

Supporters and members of the ANC would recall that after Zuma’s axing as deputy president, resolutions to support him were taken during the last National General Council, National Policy Conference and the historic 52nd National Conference that was held at Polokwane. They will also recall that his legal troubles were vigorously debated at branch, regional, provincial and national levels. The very same supporters and members have contributed and read for nourishment, Polokwane resolutions to enrich themselves and thus enabled them to respond to any question posed that relates to what Gardner has chosen to recycle.

Gardner seems divorced from the reality of vibrant debates that are taking place within the ANC and as such, his views reflect the poignant picture Bertrand Russell paints.

The assenting ANC supporters understand full well that Zuma has not been found guilty by any court of law. In fact, he has exercised all his rights as enshrined in the Constitution of the country and has honoured all the courts of law with his presence whenever he is an accused. Perhaps, by exercising his basic human rights, Zuma irked many “educated people”. How can an unlettered rural man survive law so strategically, the “educated people” ask.

Supporters and members of the ANC will not forget that the long walk to freedom was characterised by considerable sacrifices and precious lives were unfortunately lost. Under no circumstances will it be advisable for any supporter and member of the ANC to trample upon a hard-won liberty and freedom by spoiling their ballot papers. The value assenting supporters and members of the ANC attach to elections is so dear and close to their hearts since universal suffrage was once a luxury accorded to few in this country.

With respect, I implore my former English professor not to conscript anyone to be in concert with him, but rather to detail the achievements of the last 15 years of a democratic dispensation and juxtapose them with the several decades of achievements of the inhuman system. Gardner should know there have been outstanding achievements and challenges still exist. To address the challenges that exist, the ANC is entitled to his vote provincially and nationally as has been the case since 1994.

• Smanga Sethene is an independent communication strategist and a member of the ANC.

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