Unite in igniting opportunity from crisis

2009-08-22 10:35

SO our first-year university students are a bunch of illiterates! A new report shows that our universities have become glorified high schools because our students can’t read.

For 12 years we pretend to teach our children when in reality we condemn them to illiteracy. This is educational genocide against a whole generation.

These are Madiba’s children and luminaries such as Professor Kader Asmal have played no small part in this monumental fraud. It is now becoming impossible to blame apartheid, we have been “free” for 15 years.

As if that were not enough, the government is currently repossessing the land of black farmers because they can’t repay their loans. The health sector remains terminally ill. Unemployment and poverty are soaring and strikes and service delivery protest are becoming the order of the day.

There is a global recession caused by greed. Our bewildered government is giving our money to private companies in an ill-conceived scheme to try and save jobs. What about the unemployed?

The unions and the South African Communist Party have become the vanguards of capitalism; they want to rescue the system instead of building ?alternatives. In general, things are falling apart and the centre is paralysed.

We can’t blame President Jacob Zuma for all these ills. They must be placed squarely at the doorstep of the ANC, right from Nelson Mandela through to the Thabo Mbeki and Trevor Manuel combo.

Zuma was with them, to be sure, but he did not create the problem. He merely inherited it. The tragedy is that Zuma has no vision, plans or appetite for going beyond the failed policies of his predecessors. The ANC is condemned to repeat the same policies that benefit only the few. But the whole thing is destined to implode in its face.

The reigning policy paralysis provides an excellent opportunity to rethink our politics, economics and the direction of our societal transformation.

The Zuma administration could preside over the remaking of our society and set an example for the whole world. We could ignite a national festival of ideas. Imagine a genuine national dialogue based on an honest evaluation of what has gone wrong since 1994 and what we should collectively do to build a different nation.

I’m not talking about spot visits to expose some lazy ?mayor of some rural town just to get brownie points from the media or the spectacle of one- night sleepovers in a shack that we recently saw.

Secondly, we need to examine the accountability of our political system. Currently democracy is a game of promises, lies and rewards for politicians. What happens to those who ask the population to vote for them under the pretext of giving our children a good education, only to miseducate them? Well, they go on to lucrative retirements while the people suffer.

A friend has suggested a disturbing solution; she says all those who want to be parliamentarians, ministers and presidents must be directly elected on the basis of what they promise. If they fail let them be hanged.

It’s a fair proposal; that way you enter politics knowing the cost of lying and failure

A national rethinking process should not be led by “intellectuals”, academics or “commentators”. This lot actually hates thinking and has no imagination at all.

However, more than thinking we need a political leadership that is brave and honest enough to go against orthodoxies. Will the ANC under Zuma accept the logic of the people when they say they are still waiting for uhuru?

Will it listen and stop serving white capital and its BEE sidekicks at the expense of the black majority? Can it drop the outmoded economic mantras and return the land and wealth to the people? Will it stop state violence against the poor?

Now is the time to open the floodgates of ideas beyond the narrowness of electoral politics. We need to try participatory democracy. It may be the answer.

    *  Mngxitima is the publisher of New Frank Talk

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