A PARALYSED CITIZENRY: WHEN DID WE GIVE UP?

2012-10-19 10:02

The South African news stream has been markedly negative over the last couple of months and if we’re being completely honest, most reports post the 52nd National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC) held in Polokwane in 2007 have been of the distressing variety. Yet gauging by the reactions of the citizenry at large one could not be blamed for thinking that all is hunky-dory.

Most if not all of the ills that have now so suddenly and completely engulfed our nation can be attributed to a single moment in time, 21 September 2008 at 19:30. We stood idly by, batting not as much as an eyelid as the leadership of the ANC dictated to the populace that the sitting President, President Mbeki, would resign with immediate effect. We were now on a slippery slope to a leadership drunk with power as it quickly realised that when a nation’s people are so disconnected from the political reality of the day, they can easily be manipulated.

We feign surprise when the ANC bulldozes over our State institutions with impunity, when its leadership blatantly shows disregard for the rule of law or when our country loses billions of Rand in unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Yet aside from the constant armchair moaning and groaning and the occasional discussion with friends and family about “how this country is going to the dogs”, we as citizens have delegated our hard won right to be active in the political processes of the day in a hope that the bad times are temporary and the good times will roll again. What then if, as a result of our citizenry paralysis, we are dragged so deep into the abyss that the good times never return?

In the 1964 film The Best Man, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner with a screenplay by Gore Vidal the sitting President of the United States, President Art Hockstader, says the following to William Russell:

            “Power is not a toy we give to good children. It is a weapon. Because if you don't fight, the job is not for you. 

And it never will be.” Social contracts the World over have always dictated that governments are mandated with power by the people in order to serve and fight for the people. It would appear that the leadership of the ANC has this notion misconstrued as it has used that power as a weapon to fight against the people in an effort to serve themselves. If this how the ANC leadership wish to run this country then in the words of President Hockstader, “The job is not for you. And it never will be.” We as citizens need to awaken to the fact that South Africa’s politics have long shifted from ideological issues, those who wish to convince you otherwise simply want to maintain the status quo. We have been roundly told that it is inevitable that President Zuma will preside over the ANC until 2017 and run the country until 2019 and we accept it as if it were ordained as such. Have we forgotten that a political revolution is possible by simply voting in the best interests of the nation and not along party or patronage lines come 2014? What will it take for ALL of us to stand up and voice our utter disgust at the current state of affairs where our nation (a nation that has been used as a case study at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University on how to successfully carry out political transition) is viewed as one suffering from chronic failures of judgment, bereft of intellectual substance and losing sharpness on crucial policy issues. Julius Malema, service delivery protests (a term that has now become entrenched in the lexicon of the average South African), mining strikes which culminated with Marikana, the ratings agency downgrades, the R 5 billion SAA bailout, Nkandlagate and severe inequality evidenced by general social disunity are all symptoms of a greater cancer. A cancer which if left unattended will become malignant and eventually annihilate our country as we know it leaving it a shell of its former self.

The days ahead look terribly bleak unless South African’s once again can find their voice and rise up together with that united voice and say enough is enough. No political party will be able to get the message across as poignantly as a “Gatvol” population.  Events in Syria and the rest of the Arab World should not be dismissed as freak occurrences that can never be repeated elsewhere, but they should be looked at as lessons of how a leadership that is addicted to attaining, maintaining and consolidating power can in a very short space of time utterly devastate what were once relatively prosperous nations.

The emperor isn’t wearing any clothes but no one seems ready to call him naked.

Let me be the first.

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