There is no excuse for looting. There is no excuse for criminality and there is no excuse for spewing hatred. Not when government does it and not when citizens do it, writes Howard Feldman.
South Africans have had a terrible week. There is no way to sugar coat it. Xenophobic violence erupted across the county, people were hurt, shops were looted, and buildings were burned. A UCT student was brutally raped and murdered, a child kidnapped and four children in Durban were hanged by their stepfather.
While the cities across the country were in flames the ANC attended a funeral. Gavin Watson of Bosasa was buried on Tuesday. Although he might have had a struggle history in his younger days, the latter part of his life was associate with large scale government corruption and bribery.
The magnitude of the theft and the control that he had over the ruling party, along with the Guptas is not yet fully visible, and there is a good chance that we will only ever view the tip of the iceberg that could well sink the ship.
They have no shame
With the terrible images flooding social media over the past few days, the image that I found the most disturbing was the one of the ANC dancing and celebrating the life of Watson. It was at Watson's funeral that the ANC danced and sang and praised.
If ever there was a visual depiction that displayed the level of disconnect between them and the people of the country, it was this. It meant, to me, quite simply, that with all the talk, and with all the dialogue and with all the state capture inquiries, that the ANC still does not take any form of responsibility, they have no shame and that they are just as arrogant now as they were under Zuma.
This is not to say that other leaders behaved any better. Julius Malema, so as not to have the spotlight turned away from him, tweeted the following: Our anger is directed at wrong people. Like all of us, our African brothers & sisters are selling their cheap labour for survival. The owners of our wealth is white monopoly capital; they are refusing to share it with us & the ruling party #ANC protects them.#OneAfricaIsPossible
Clearly Mr Malema has no problem with violence and with criminality, so long as it focused on the white population of the country. It was an appalling and horribly disappointing thing to have tweeted.
Especially that given his penchant for the luxuries of the very white monopoly capital, he lacks any form of credibility in this regard.
Sadly, his tweet was liked more that 17 thousand times, which is depressing in of itself.
Whereas there is no excuse for the behaviour in the country, there is a desperate need to understand what has caused it. I do not believe that South Africans are inherently xenophobic or racists or are criminals.
I do not believe that they would not be welcoming of foreigners in the country if there wasn’t the desperate state of affairs that exists today.
Maturity and introspection
Human nature is such that when our figurative stomachs are full, we are happy to share food and to see someone else eating. But when we are hungry and resentful, and we are not able to procure "food" then the sight of someone else sitting at our table and eating food that might have been ours could easily inflame us.
If the ANC doesn't hear this and doesn't take the message on board, then we are unlikely to solve the situation. Not any time soon. It will take real maturity and introspection and it will mean taking responsibility for what has occurred prior.
Opposition parties like the EFF will need to suspend their race-based political agenda, their populist approach to politics and show leadership. Their current stance will do the country and themselves no favours. Because when the streets are calm and people are rational, the politician who sought to inflame the hatred will not be well-judged.
We have so much going for us in South Africa. We need to remember that. We need to recognise that it is not "foreigners" who have let us down.
It is the ANC that needs to be held to account. It serves no one, but the politicians if we turn on each other, because then they are free to dance at the funeral of the person who bribed them.
- Howard Feldman is a keynote speaker and analyst. He is the author of three books and is the morning talk show host on ChaiFM.
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