Playing the man and not the ball

2010-02-20 13:24

THE reaction of opposition parties to the

state- of-the-nation address delivered by President Zuma once again laid bare

the dire state of our opposition.

Once more, they failed to

­answer questions of what is to be done and simply mobilised around the

president’s so called “infidelity”.

True to character, they

missed a grand opportunity to rise above their petty politicking, embrace the

spirit of ­nationhood and demonstrate that they, too, could make tangible and

constructive contributions in building a nation state that’s truly emancipated.

This state-of-the-nation

­address was not about slogans or poems but rather tangible outcomes that will

change the lives of ordinary South Africans for the better.

What was before the nation

was a refocus on our priorities – decent work and sustainable livelihoods,

health, education, rural development, food security and land reform and the

fight against crime and corruption.

The president was quite

clear in outlining our approach to tackling these priorities. Unfortunately,

instead of enriching the national debate the opposition was emphatic about

playing the man and not the ball.

The esteemed Athol Trollip,

in his response to the president’s address, opined that “popularity in politics

dissipates like morning mist”. We can only wonder who is in a popularity contest

other than the kindergarten lot occupying the opposition benches in our national


The ANC and President Zuma

are, on the other hand, in the business of advancing and accelerating service

delivery and improving the lives of the masses.

One had to wonder which

state-of-the-nation address the esteemed Congress of the People parliamentary

leader, Mvume Dandala, was listening to when he came out guns blazing, heaping

every conceivable insult on President Zuma. His amusing antics left one

wondering whether his remarks had been penned days before the address was

actually delivered.

The brutal legacy of

decades of oppression, racial segregation and state brutality is not something

we can wish away. Its ghosts continue to haunt every aspect of socio-political

and socio-economic life.

Daunting challenges remain.

Chief among these is the transformation of the judiciary. Helen Zille would have

us believe that the judiciary is transformed because in her book transformation

means having black faces on the benches without addressing the substance of the

functioning of the judiciary and ensuring that this resonates with the spirit of

our constitution.

The disdain the Democratic

Alliance continues to demonstrate towards black people highlights this point,

and the attitude of the Freedom Front Plus to name changes – the most blatant

example being the renaming of Pretoria – ­further illustrates it.

While the opposition

benches continue to revel in hollow noise like crabs in a river, the masses are

waiting for collective leadership across the political divide to embrace a new

society, steeped in the timeless values enshrined in our constitution – ubuntu

and patriotism.

The ANC will continue to

forge ahead with its agenda to build a thriving nation state at peace with


It is a sad day in our

country when those who occupy opposition benches behave like scorned women and

direct their wrath at anything in their path. I agree with Trollip that

posterity will judge the opposition on whether they had the courage to speak the

truth and be a realistic political counterweight.

The criticism they heap on

President Zuma at every possible opportunity belies the culture of double

standards and hypocrisy they have embraced. The DA’s attitude to the alleged

infidelity of Lennit Max and the assertion that it is a private matter that

neither concerns a political party nor government is a case in point, and we

could not agree more.

  • Mbalula

    is ANC head of ­organising and campaigns

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