DA, you failed miserably

2014-02-17 10:00

Since the ANC received the letter informing us of the DA’s intent to march to Luthuli House under the guise of fighting for “real” jobs, leaders, ANC members and the public were in agreement that this publicity stunt was ill advised, opportunistic and provocative.

While we respect and will always advance and defend the right of anyone to assemble and protest, political freedom does not extend to a political party marching to the offices of a political opponent.

Our history is littered with many examples of the dangers of such provocative and offensive attacks, thus the ANC repeatedly implored the DA to exercise restraint and consider and utilise the appropriate avenues for their grievances.

The ANC, with the people of South Africa, led the struggle from apartheid to a free, democratic, non-racial, nonsexist society where every citizen has a voice.

Too many carry the memories and bear the scars of political violence in South Africa.

It is because of this that our democratic order has created platforms to engage in a manner that is not anarchic.

These include Parliament, Nedlac, government and the courts.

In an engagement with ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, the DA Gauteng leadership agreed that marching to the ANC head office was ill informed and ran the risk of inciting ANC members and supporters to defend the organisation’s headquarters, Chief Albert Luthuli House.

This was also the outcome of a security assessment by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department which denied the DA permission for its march.

Helen Zille, in her overzealousness for cheap publicity with no regard for the consequences, overruled the DA Gauteng leadership and took the JMPD to court to get its decision overturned, proving that any attempt to reason with her dogged determination to invade Luthuli House was futile.

And indeed they would be because, from the outset, the march had never been about, or had any genuine interest in, collaborating to rid our country of the triple scourge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Inflammatory statements were uttered by Zille that they would “take the fight to Luthuli House”.

This was done in a premeditated act with the help of trained and armed security personnel and what should have been earnest dialogue?–had the DA’s intentions been sincere?–?became a poisoned atmosphere that harked back to an era of intimidation and violence.

The march was marred by a few inappropriate actions of the people who participated.

However, the majority of the more than 10?000 ANC supporters present exercised exemplary restraint.

In a few months, our country will again go to the polls to reaffirm and entrench our democratic order which has been characterised by regular, free and fair elections. The irresponsible behaviour displayed by the DA must be strongly condemned.

The ANC prides itself on being a beacon of democratic principles.

As a movement that fought for and led our people in the liberation struggle, we understand mass action to be a deadlock-breaking mechanism, not an action of first resort.

It follows engagement, discussion and negotiation?–?among other mechanisms?–?to win the battle of ideas to move South Africa forward.

Policies are deliberated and enhanced by input from stakeholders.

If the DA wanted to engage the ANC on its manifesto, the ANC, in an environment free of adventurism and provocation, would have welcomed this.

Ours jointly, as a country, is to work together guided by our common vision to find lasting solutions to the challenges confronting us.

Working together, we’ve made real progress towards a better life for all. However, much more still remains to be done.

While the DA is trying to take us back to division and conflict among political parties, the ANC working together with the people of South Africa is focused on delivering against our manifesto?–?a real plan to create jobs, fight crime and continue moving South Africa forward.

Mthembu is the ANC’s national spokesperson

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