Despite the challenges, we are a shining light

2011-12-10 00:00

AS South Africa moves towards the end of its second decade of democracy, the country is clearly not going down the drain, as doomsdayers have been prophesying for 15 years or so.

While some people have gone Down Under to find a “better life”, with the African National Congress promising to dispense to all, others have proclaimed that this country will go down the same road as other African countries which became democracies before us.

Let’s make no mistake, this country goes from challenge to change, and resiliently so, as we rise to each test, be it political, judicial, legal and constitutional.

For a democratic rule that is in its infancy, we remain a shining light and have succeeded where others such as Zimbabwe, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Ghana and more have failed.

Unlike the political parties in other African countries, “comrades” in the ANC have shown that they will not be held to ransom by fellow politicians and, if you do not believe me, ask former president Thabo Mbeki and the Congress of the People defectors.

The conviction and sentencing of former police commissioner Jackie Selebi is proof that no fish is too big for the judicial fishing rod.

The Selebi conviction is only the tip of the iceberg of “the comrades” who will fall victim to the justice guillotine as we look ahead to the third decade of our democracy.

The ANC’s Tony Yengeni has done his time and we can expect a few others to follow suit with the arms deal investigation that has been instituted by President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma has had his fair share of brushes with the law, which would be almost unthinkable in other African countries — a former deputy president and police generals being hauled before the courts to answer charges. Almost never seen in other African countries.

As untouchable as ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has been made out to be, he is facing possible parallel investigations into his grip on his home province of Limpopo. He is now as quiet as a church mouse, almost.

Businesspeople linked to influential political leaders are also looking over their shoulders as the authorities conduct thorough investigations, mostly into tender rigging and money laundering.

These are all tests to the institutions which are the cornerstones of this democracy. Nothing is straightforward or guaranteed anymore and there is no impunity. It is ironic that Selebi is set to serve time with those he was tasked to put behind bars. As they say, be nice to people on your way up the ladder so that they will be nice to you on your way down. The treatment he gets will determine the kind of leader he was.

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