ANC has abandoned its founding principles of the new South Africa - Wilmot James

2015-10-09 18:26
Dr. Wilmot James

Dr. Wilmot James

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Cape Town - The ANC has abandoned its commitment to the founding principles of the new South Africa and instead had resorted to "bullying, propaganda and hostility to criticism,” according to opposition MP Wilmot James.

In a speech to be delivered in Washington DC on the importance of courageous journalism in South Africa on Friday night, the liberal DA politician launches a scathing critique of the country under president Jacob Zuma.

“We know that all governments’ default position is to want to hide things, and feel uncomfortable when they are exposed – but the thing about the Zuma government is the monumental volume of things required to be hidden. Its mode of operation has been to embed itself in the state and to develop networks of patronage and corruption on a wide scale to secure its power.”

“The rot has seeped into the corporate world,” he warned, saying that journalism was not immune.

The government was applying pressure on journalists, arguing that if they criticise the ANC, they are “somehow unpatriotic and even anti-black”. 

“The ANC’s own narrative – ‘We have a good story to tell’ – seeks to convince the country that asking difficult questions about corruption, maladministration and profound policy failures is to somehow negate the freedoms of 1994 and the significant changes that came with them.”

He said people who have striven all their lives for equality and freedom from want for all and who are intolerant of corruption involving billions, or the institutional ineffectiveness evident in the government’s handling of everything from electricity generation and schooling to crime and immigration, are staying true to their progressive convictions and are by no means reactionary.

The ANC continued to pay lip service to media freedom, yet had become less tolerant over the years because it was losing electoral ground and felt threatened. “And, bound up with its uncertain fortunes, is its failure to address the single most important engine of change and transformation my country so desperately needs: education.”

Education travesty

James said it was a travesty that South Africa was at the bottom of the world’s rankings in educational outcomes despite education being the single and largest item of the budget over the years.  

“The effect in the everyday world has been to under-educate and mis-educate young South Africans to the point that, as Thomas Pikkety recently pointed at the annual lecture of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, placed a structural constraint on the South African economy; there are about 950 000 jobs for first line managers and professionals in health, law, finance and engineering that cannot be filled domestically.”

Poor education had also impacted on journalism “where language skill, the ability to communicate clearly and the cognitive penetration to weigh ideas with intelligent scepticism are the primary and indispensable tools”.

“Instead of nourishing an effective change process capable of expanding opportunity, skill and accomplishment and the dignity and sense of self-worth these qualities can be counted on to generate, it has fallen back on bullying, propaganda and hostility to criticism.”

James was to deliver his speech at an event at Newseum, an interactive museum of news and journalism.

Read more on:    wilmot james  |  politics

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