For a sometime now, I have been following the propagandist statements issued by the African National Congress (ANC) National Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu with a keen interest. He has had a go at various voices that sought to hold the ANC-led government accountable, especially President Jacob Zuma, whose systematically flawed and directionless leadership has continually leapfrogged our country from one major crisis to another.
The state of national crisis stems from the militarisation of the South African Police Service (SAPS) by the former National Police Commissioner (NPC) Bheki Cele. The scourge of police brutality, among others, resulted into the deaths of Andries Tatane in 2011, 34 Lonmin miners in 2012 and Mido Macia who died of head injuries and internal wounds in police custody after being handcuffed to the back of a police van and then dragged through to Daveyton Police Station in 2013.
Albeit Riah Phiyega inherited the SAPS in shambles from Cele, her appointment without having played any role in the SAPS before did not only resemble that of her predecessor but added on the list of faulty appointments made by Zuma. Other faulty appointees include the former Heads of Crime Intelligence Richard Mdluli who was reportedly interviewed by a panel consisting of four ministers without any police official and Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Willem Health respectively, and the former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Menzi Simelane. Their appointments were nothing but political rewards from Zuma.
The slovenly blunders made by the leading detective Hilton Botha in the high-profiled murder case of Oscar Pistorius have laid bare the incompetence of the SAPS to fight crime. Whilst investigating the case, it emerged that seven charges of attempted murder were reinstated against him. Within the SAPS itself, crime is rife. According to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), in 2011 and 2012 respectively, there were 4923 complaints lodged against the police. 2320 of these complaints were for criminal offences, 720 for deaths, 88 for domestic violence and 1795 for police misconducts. In 2012, the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa revealed that 144 police officers were charged with murder and 91 with rape.
The state of national crisis stems from the rate at which corruption is unstoppably spiraling out of control. According to the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa), corruption in South Africa (SA) has reached the highest point and looks unlikely to decline in a near future. In drawing the extent to which corruption has become omnipresent in SA, Stephen Robison said “…South Africans have lost their capacity to be shocked by it [anymore].” The statement relates to the 2012 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in which SA has dropped from the 64th place to 69th of the most corrupt countries in the world.
A day hardly goes by without reports of ministers, premiers and government officials corruptly splurging the taxpayers’ money with impunity. In a country ravaged by high levels of poverty like ours, it is morally inexplicable to splurge R204 million of taxpayer’s money to install security on Zuma’s private home. It is indeed morally hard to explain the impunity with which the Free State (FS) Premier Ace Magashule has been splurging the taxpayers’ money. FS has, under his premiership, become of one of the most corrupt provinces in the country.
The state of national crisis stems from our futile electoral process, the proportional representation (PR) system in which electors vote for the political party of their choice rather than for individual candidates. Albeit the PR system provides all parties with representation in the National Assembly (NA) proportional to their electoral support, it has failed to enhance citizenry because the Members of Parliament (MPs) cannot individually account to their parties’ constituencies.
The system has dragged the dirty politics of the ANC from Luthuli House to Parliament, which has of late become nothing but a joke with derogatory remarks like “flea-infested body,” “government of darkies’ and all sorts of demeaning remarks. Some MPs fall asleep while Parliament is in session. The only time one sees them lively is few hours before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) or budget speech showing off their most expensive attire on the red carpet.
It is for these reasons we have seen opposition parties staging walkouts in protestation against the dirty politics of the ANC in Parliament and the report released by the National Planning Commission (NPC) points out impeccably that Parliament has failed to execute its most basic role of overseeing a chain of accountability.
In essence, these crises and others, such as a series of poor service delivery protests, labour unrest, poor economic and foreign polices and overall lack of accountable and visionary leadership have not only coalesced to deepen our country into a state of national crisis but have built a base for a political discourse. However, the ANC has become intolerable of criticism so much that it resorts to political bullishness to silence its critics.
An attempt to silence its critics started with the Chairman of the Nedbank Group Dr Reuel Khoza who was at most called ‘disingenuous’. In light of this shameful reality, the First National Bank (FNB) “You Can Help” campaign has shed light on the extent to which the ANC has become intolerable of criticism. The vast majority of South Africans across all races and age groups share the same views expressed in this campaign. However, Keith Khoza, the ANC Spokesperson, said the “FNB is unfairly using children to articulate a view that we don’t even know for sure is their own.” He added, “Young people don’t necessarily understand the challenges of governance and undoing 250 years of oppression and colonialism.” What Khoza forgets is that these children are not interested in a version of distorted history to justify the systematic failures of the ANC. What they want is a government that would listen to their voices and deliver on its promises.
Another example that showed the ANC has become intolerable of criticism is that of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko whom the ever so egomaniac Mthembu said she “Is so naïve when it comes to African traditions she cannot relate to them.” This was after Mazibuko had urged President Zuma to retract his statement that only “businesses that support the ANC will prosper.”
As it is, the state propagandist tabloid, The New Age (TNA) newspaper, founded in 2010, generates more revenue than newspapers that have been in existence for donkey’s years with reputable readership because it supports the ANC with its state-funded series of multimillion breakfasts. One wonders what makes Mthembu an African and does not make Mazibuko. Is it because the latter does not preach the so-called “African traditions” even where they do not exist? Mthembu claims that “It is our tradition as Africans that if someone gives you something, in return you thank him/her and wish them prosperity and abundance.” This statement insinuates that corruption is an African practice, hence ‘unAfricans’ like Mazibuko cannot relate to it.
With respect to the call made by the Congress of the People (COPE) President Mosiuoa Lekota for an impeachment of President Zuma, citing among others, failure to “Lead the executive to fulfill the ruling of the judiciary” by defying the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) ruling to hand over abbreviated transcripts of the so-called spy tapes to the DA. As usual, instead of insightfully addressing the merits of the call, Mthembu said it is ‘disingenuous’ and “consistent with his personal hatred for President Zuma, which was key in his decision to form COPE as a breakaway party from the ANC.”
He added, “The ANC believes that the matter of the handover of tapes is a matter within the jurisdiction of National Prosecuting Authority and not the President as suggest by Terror Lekota.” The truth is - Zuma does not have respect for the rule of law, ironically, as the President of the country, he vowed to “uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other law of the republic.” The crises warrant his removal from office or else he will turn SA into a kleptocratic state. The sooner we accept that our country is in crisis the better.
Molifi Tshabalala is the lifetime of the Golden Key International Honours Society (GKIHS)
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