Refusal to vote is tantamount to treason

2008-10-11 00:00

There is little doubt, if any, in the minds of many South Africans about the role that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu played during the dark days of the struggle for the freedom that many of us now enjoy. Unlike many political activists, he had the privilege of being able to make political statements without fear of victimisation or detention as he hid behind the pulpit proclaiming to be a servant of God. His efforts did not go unnoticed as he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, making him one of only four South Africans on whom this prestigious honour was bestowed, alongside Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk.

However, what cannot go unchallenged is the irresponsible statement that Tutu recently made, saying that he would not vote in the elections next year. This statement is tantamount to treason because others died in the struggle and did not enjoy the benefits of a pulpit as he did, which served as a form of automatic amnesty.

This was not the first time that he has made empty threats. He threatened to leave the country and run to his other homes in the form of the United Kingdom and the United States after the first victim of necklacing, Maki Skhosana, died. It’s a pity that he made such a statement because when Thabo Mbeki made his countless blunders, which were to the detriment of the people of our country and our continent, Tutu was as quiet as a church mouse.

When he finally did find the little courage that he has, he was told to shut up by Mbeki, an order he followed to the letter. He did not continue to criticise Mbeki fearlessly and unabatedly as he claims he will in this instance.

Tutu’s latest stance tells us a number of things about the man the Zimbabwean president once referred to as the “little bishop”. For one, he is a coward who picks his fights carefully. In cases where he has shown poor judgment, he has backed off carefully and disappeared into the wilderness. It also tells us that he has lost the little objectivity that he had and has become entangled in the Jacob Zuma-Mbeki whirlwind.

Perhaps he should renew his ANC membership and stand as a councillor in the Cape Town Metro in order to take up his qualms with the party from within. Alternatively, he can vote for other political parties and Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota’s party could be a nice home for the “little bishop”, seeing that they share similar thoughts about the modern-day ANC leadership. To say he will not vote is utterly irresponsible and counter-revolutionary.

Unfortunately, he has passed his sell-by date and the sooner he comes to terms with this reality, the better for the youth, who need to go to the polls in their numbers to make a contribution to the political landscape.

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