Past their sell-by date Past their sell-by date

2016-12-01 06:00

IN the world of government, policy and legislation, the heavyweights always start off with the best intentions before what seems like a gravitational pull of power takes its toll.

Politicians are drawn to power like the Earth is drawn to the sun, some orbiting in a continuous circle of corruption to maintain their positions.

History shows this at its full extent.

Many who fought the oppression of dictatorship soon became the very thing they sought to overthrow.

With the death of Fidel Castro, the possible retirement of Robert Mugabe and our own president under pressure from his peers to step down, the glaring question is how they all got to the point in their careers where they are both hated and loved by the people they swore to serve.

Castro was hailed as the saviour of Cuba when he overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista and led his country into a state of socialism under a communist party. Early in his career, he provided steady growth in the areas of health and education, and was lauded as the hero of socialism and anti-imperialism. With the same token, he also ensured that the Cuban press was controlled by the state and that his opposition was entirely suppressed under his control.

Sound familiar?

By the end of his rule, Cuba had faced its worst economic decline which crippled its manufacturing industry. Castro improved the lives of his poorer citizens, but at the same time, ruined the economy that allowed for this improvement.

Economic decline - that also sounds rather familiar in a very recent South African context.

Now onto the Chuck Norris of Zimbabwe - the man who refuses to fade away and who, for almost 30 years, has destroyed his opposition with a knockout roundhouse kick to the face.

Mugabe saw the abolishment of white supremacy­ in Zimbabwe during his rise to power, but as time passed, landed his country in financial ruin and racial divide.

He was proclaimed a leader for being a key figure in overthrowing a racist dictatorship and formed a singular political party that had total power right up to 2008. Now the country is trying to salvage what it can after, in my opinion, was one of the biggest economic downfalls in history.

Our own South African leaders were voted into power for the promises they made more than 20 years ago.

They swore to heal the pains of the past and unite the country under a banner of peace and prosperity.

At this stage, that feels like a long-forgotten dream with racism running rampant, the price of basic amenities remaining at an all-time high and crime and poverty rates soaring.

Now we are wrestling our president for the truth.

Jacob Zuma remains in power despite not answering for his alleged involvement with the Guptas and the shuffling of his cabinet at a whim. He remains in power despite allegedly spending tax money to refurbish his Nkandla home, and he remains in power even though he has just fewer than 800 charges against him.

My point - not every leader put into power by the people deserves to be there.

The ANC was put into power and continues to serve the interests of its leader before the interests of its people.

Zanu-PF put the needs of Mugabe before the needs of its people and has now looked to outside parties to save what’s left of the country.

If we as a country are to survive, we have to remove the leaders who behave like dictators under the guise of democracy and exercise our freedom of choice for change while we still can.

• Amil Umraw is a reporter at The Witness.

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