One would have to be in heavy denial or, metaphorically at least, living on a far-away planet – for example, the ‘Planet Zuma’ that many believed had long drifted away – not to acknowledge that the so-called New Dawn will never happen.
If it does, it will not come in the form promised to us in fancy political campaigns and government spin. Solutions to the challenges we face cannot come from endlessly applying the same methods, and employing – or deploying, if you will – the same so-called cadres over and over again. The centre that deploys them has long run out of new ideas fit for a future-facing South Africa.
If the archaic, Soviet-era political vocabulary still used 2019 is not a sufficient indicator of the incongruence between the world we live in and this imaginary world, it is hard to imagine what else will be needed to wake more South Africans up to the Orwellian world we’re being forced to be part of. ‘New Dawn’ is increasingly beginning to seem like the brightly coloured, delicious looking fast-food in fancifully photoshopped brochures and fast-food-store overhead displays that rarely resemble what we get after we place our orders.
We, South Africans, were turned into waiting people after the end of apartheid. For a long time, politicians in the governing party have told us to be patient, to wait and to keep waiting for processes to unfold in their own time and at their own pace in the ANC and, by extension, in South Africa. Mind the order.
Abuse of public funds
From the early years of our democracy we were told to wait because change takes time. But while we waited, the political elite did not wait. Those chosen few went on to live off the public purse, splurging on expensive, high-end sedans, SUVs, first and business class travel, newly built and refurbished ministerial and parliamentary homes, unnecessary blue light convoys, and a whole lot more.
When the state capture president – now in the limelight and regaling us with spy stories at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture – came along and raised the bar in the abuse of position and public funds, we were again told to be patient. Calls emanating from opposition benches to remove the institutional wrecking ball that he had become were opposed by the party he led.
This was not because such calls lacked merit, but because they were initiated by men and women in opposition benches; all of whom, may I remind you, represented citizens no less South African than those who voted for the governing party, and who do not love South Africa any less.
So we were again told to be patient and to keep waiting, even long before the December 2017 party elective conference, and even while the man dubbed a Constitutional delinquent by the highest court in our land continued to use the weakened and repurposed institutions of our democracy against the best interests of our country. We were told to wait because December 2017 would be the right time to start the process to bring a semblance of order into the house.
Funded by our labour
So, we waited. We had no choice but to wait. We had become the waiting people. And South Africa too, had become a waiting country. All of this happened while the ANC took its time to get its own house in order. We were held hostage then, as we are today, by the whims of men and women in politics who have long ceased to place the best interests of our country ahead of those of their party.
Our future depends on their goodwill and their material well-being is funded by our hard labour, as well as the taxes and levies they have progressively imposed on us while they ask us to be patient, to wait. We now work for their material well-being, not the other way around.
It's unlikely any of us wanted to see anything like an Arab spring come to our shores; so waiting was the only option we were left with. And we waited. And while we waited, the madness continued. It continued even amid what became a short-lived Ramaphoria.
But if the only president we have for the next five years doesn’t stop using a boardroom strategy while faced with streetfighters who no longer have anything to lose; and if he doesn’t leave it up to us to keep second-guessing him while his opponents – who have, by default, become our collective opponents – continue to throw dirt at our collective dream, something will have to give.
The ANC will not heal while still in power; and all indications are that a new, multi-racial, future-facing, centrist, party will have to be born to lead the country into in a better shared and sure future.
South Africans and this country cannot be held hostage forever by a governing party that long lost the ability and the will to articulate economic and political policy in a clear, united voice. The future can no longer be held hostage to the past.
* Solly Moeng is brand reputation management adviser and CEO of strategic corporate communications consultancy DonValley Reputation Managers. Views expressed are his own.