No amount of champagne, cakes or booze-fuelled parties can mask the reality of the what the ANC has become.
EFF leader Julius Malema in Parliament. (Getty Images)
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No one grouping or person should anoint themselves as the defenders of constitutionalism and those who do so should not consider themselves to be immune to criticism and interrogation, writes Rekgotsofetse Chikane.
coming of age of South Africa's born-free/born-into-bondage generation, we need
to understand what it means to defend South Africa's institutions and the
dangers of deferring this responsibility to those who seek to defend them under
the guise of societal providence, when in fact, the defence appears eerily
in which we defend our institutions will undoubtedly inform how we rebuild
them. The rebuilding process requires well-intentioned and trusted groupings
and individuals to guide us. Thus, it's vitally important to understand that even
the most well-intentioned angels, who believe they are incapable of being
sacrilegious, can fall from heaven when tempted, not only endangering the
entire project, but hijacking it for their personal benefit.
been a systematic attack on South Africa's institutions since the middle of the
2000s. It has often focused, not on stealing for the sake of stealing, but on
enabling a parasitic-esque extraction of the state's resources in a manner
meant to normalise and institutionalise rent-seeking behaviour.
attempts to bring finality to the arms deal investigation; the dismantling of the
National Prosecuting Authority's internal checks and balances; the reconfiguration
of the Scorpions into the Hawks; and attacks on press freedom; to the growing
acceptance and comfort with the toothless nature of our Chapter 9 institutions;
the infantilising of state-owned entities into personal play toys; the removal
of the policy unit in the Presidency; the creation and subsequent ignoring of
the National Development Plan; the use of Parliament to actively defend the
indefensible; and innumerable qualified audits across innumerable organs of
list is extensive, it is far from exhaustive. The act of capture was a delimited
process that was planned and coordinated, which as a result, created a
self-perpetuating and self-actualising ecosystem of state-sanctioned
maleficence driven by a patronage turned prebendal system of governance.
generation, we grew up in a post-1994 South Africa in which we watched our
parents allow others to dismantle the institutions that they fought for. While
we went about learning long division, our country was being looted with little
to no defence from our parents. Harsh as it may seem, it is the reality of the
situation we find ourselves in.
turn of the century, South Africa's institutions have been actively taken apart
by those who sought to test the limits of our democratic checks and balances.
Thus, there is frankly a desperate need to strengthen these checks and balances
to ensure that any institutional rebuilding process succeeds. We can't simply
rebuild the institutions of old in the same mould and expect different results.
this creates the environment for the tolerance turned into implicit acceptance
of the Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) current political modus operandi. The
arrival of the EFF in Parliament in 2014 created a mode of politics designed to
actively defend the country's institutions in which corruption had been normalised.
The EFF became less concerned with maintaining the illusion of normalcy and
focused on the politics of disruption. It was disruption that focused less on
how to defend institutions within the confines of Parliament, but on the act of
defence to change the confines of Parliament.
born-free/born-into-bondage generation, the manner of their defence was of less
importance, albeit interesting, when compared to the actual act of defending. It
was an act we grew up not truly witnessing ourselves.
two decades the one organ of state specifically designed to hold the executive
wing of government accountable, the Parliament of South Africa – excluding the
work of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts – allowed not only the
infiltration of the graft within the state but actively encouraged it. Thus,
having a party such as the EFF, in all its brashness, seek to change the modus
operandi of Parliament, became not only a breath of fresh air but our first
gasp of air as a generation drowning in the sins of our parents.
we become older and more capable of protecting the state ourselves due to our
increased access to economic and social capital, there is a need to interrogate
and exercise a level of introspection about the way we defend our institutions
and the consequences of our defensive posture. Though it cannot be denied that
the EFF saved us from falling over a cliff, this by no means implies that we,
as the youth, have appointed them as our de facto protectors of the state; our
political guardian angels.
The way we
defend our institutions when they are under attack now will inform how we will
have to rebuild them in the future. Both acts inform each other, and we must be
aware of this fact if we wish to ensure the graft of the past 15-20 years is
not repeated, or even worse, allowed to grow.
As a result,
it has become vitally important to interrogate how the EFF seeks to defend
institutions such as the Public Protector but simultaneously interrogate their
subsequent attacks on Minister Pravin Gordhan, press freedom, women in the media,
and the manner in which it handles allegations of corruption laid against their
a set of politics to someone is always a difficult task, especially when
ideological differences take a front and centre role. However, our inability to
find common ground on our politics of engagement will then require us to find a
means of challenging the politics of unearned and unmandated irreproachable
belief in one's political acts. This is a belief the EFF seems to hold close to
the heart. Thus, to hold them accountable requires an exercise that one would
rather do without but must undertake if required.
There is no
one-size-fits-all defence of institutions and we, as a generation, must become
comfortable with this notion. It can come in a variety of forms, but we must
interrogate our methods. Do we wish to defend our institutions whilst
denouncing press freedom by using the term Stratcom to invalidate opposing
views within the media? Should we trust an organisation that uses physical
intimidation against those they disagree with to be the guardians of our new
democratic discourse? The key to defending our institutions is to avoid
allowing one person or group to control the narrative of what defence means or
contention with the EFF is not informed by some form an inherent distrust of
the party or an exercise to undermine the work they do. My contention lies at
the heart of what it truly means to be part of the born-free/born-into-bondage
generation that finds itself fighting for its future: the fight to control the
ideology that drives the necessary changes to the institutions of South Africa.
grouping or person should anoint themselves as the defenders of constitutionalism
and those who do so should not consider themselves to be immune to criticism
of our institutions requires a coordinated effort of compromise that is
informed by the nuances in our various approaches. Our potential agreement on
the EFF's stance on Pravin Gordhan's positioned in relation to the Public
Protector shouldn't require an implicit belief that we agree with their attacks
on him, the institution of press freedom in South Africa or preclude them from
being held accountable for allegations of corruption.
doesn't necessitate the creation of an enemy out of obvious allies because we
disagree on our approaches.
Though the born-free/born-into-bondage
generation will undoubtedly view the EFF as the party that stood as the first
line of defence against the theft of the country, this shouldn't automatically
lead to the belief that we equally see them as the first in line to restructure
our institutions. That role must remain contested lest we fall into the same
trap of letting one group dictate and design a system of democracy that only
serves the interests of those who designed it.
- Rekgotsofetse 'Kgotsi' Chikane is the author of Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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