A statement made by the President of the Democratic Republic of South Africa. This is not the first time our President has officially mentioned the infallibility and eternal nature of the current ruling party; the last time he said the reign of the ANC would end only when Jesus returned. Some people have reacted with horror and said the ANC is using "bully tactics" going into the elections and others have simply ignored it; however I believe there is something in this kind of rhetoric that South Africans, regardless of political affiliation, need to take heed of.
I purposefully mentioned in my opening paragraph that Jacob Zuma is the President of the Democratic Republic of South Africa. The word "democracy" comes from the Greek "demokratia" which essentially means "rule of the people". A healthy democracy requires its citizens to vote and in a healthy democracy the will of the people determines who runs the country for the good of the country. I often wondered after the initial statement by Zuma about "ruling until Jesus came back" whether Zuma, or the ANC for that matter, understood democracy at all. Over and above the statements mentioned, the ANC becomes extremely irritated about anyone who criticises its leaders or representatives; going as far as asking for public apologies. What comes to mind is "The Spear" painting or Zapiro's depiction of Zuma with a showerhead. This is in stark contrast to the United States where people are allowed, through freedom of speech, to view their opinions about their current leadership without political backlash. Furthermore in most healthy democracies the leaders will never say they, or the party, are going to "lead forever" because the party doesn't determine that, the people of the nation do. This kind of rhetoric and clamp down of criticism is far more familiar in other political systems which I would like to discuss in the next paragraph.
If you even have the faintest knowledge of human history then you will know what I am going to speak about. History is riddled with men and governments who spoke very similarly to the way the ANC and its current leader does. Some of the men I can think of from the 20th century would be Stalin and Hitler. There are more before them as well. The similarity is that they never ruled forever but what they did do was leave a wake of destruction in the aftermath of their rule. Yes I am aware that we are not in the Third Reich or the Soviet Union however what concerns me is whether this "democracy" of ours will stand the test of time when the ANC's power is truly challenged. Would the ANC gracefully step down if it lost an election or would South Africa be thrown into a violent power struggle like our neighbour's Zimbabwe? You see when a President says what he just has, it makes one wonder what He and the party would do to ensure that they rule forever?
I am not 100% sure about the answers to my questions above; however I am 100% sure that the ANC's power will be challenged and I pray that South Africans would learn to be loyal, not to a party or man, but to the Republic of South Africa and to fight for the values and the democracy that so many South African men and women, not party, fought so hard for.