Letter to the President on Africa Day

2013-05-25 14:12

Now I know why it was worth it to stand up and fight against apartheid. Even though there are votaries of that bankrupt mindset enforced by force of arms who still lurk amongst us and occasionally creep out of the crevices of history to show their hand, they and what I now see short of treasonable conduct on the part of the nouveau liberated who are raping and pillaging the fiscus, remind me that with freedom comes obligations. They who fail us make the righteous amongst us rebel and voice our dissent and never to lapse into lethargy and apathy.

So Mr President, I address this article to you and even though you're currently in Addis Ababa celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the African Union, I feel confident that, in the interests of freedom of opinion, your minders will let you read what I have to say. In the off chance that you might not get to read it, I will share this article with the media, because I am an African and what is degenerating in our country is odious and a betrayal of trust. It is totally ignoring the enshrining constitutional principle of ubuntu that our constitutional court,  found the need to remind us in a groundbreaking judgment or two.

When the baton was passed from Mandela to Mbeki and thence under unhappy circumstances to you, critics of the ANC prognosticated a worse case scenario most of which is becoming a reality in SA.

As we, a nation celebrate Africa Day, I can't help but recall what former President Thabo Mbeki wrote in 1999 in his book'Africa,the time has come' about what the failure to,  firstly, achieve socio-economic justice, secondly, to alleviate poverty and, thirdly as well as crucially, to achieve conciliation through transformation will,  not can, do to the constitutional edifice upon which our country is founded.

Yes, I have listened to Minister Trevor Manuel extol the National Development Plan as well as analysed what it entails and the spirit, vision and the ethos that informs it reminds me why it is worth it to remain in the ring even though the final bell had wrung for apartheid and its legacy may be out for the count but many of its vestiges have been replaced by a deepening sense of ineptocracy. Your critics, Mr President, say you have a poor leadership style and that you abdicate your constitutional responsibilities to foreign investors who use our national resources as their exclusive domain. Is it true?! Sir, that government has decided to go ahead and procure a presidential jet for you at the cost of an estimated R600 million? If it is, Mr President, do you think that the economically challenged and disenfranchised will forgive you for that and whether the moderates amongst us will continue to endorse a profligate government? I tweeted earlier on whether or not you should learn from Malawian President Joyce Banda who has sold off her country's presidential jets?

So, as we too celebrate Africa Day we need to reflect what we as Africans need to do. South Africa needs a visionary as well as a pragmatist for a leader with unconventional style of thinking and effecting major changes. The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demonstrated that it is possible. Such a leader, Mr President, will need to be a realist and not ignore or be deaf to the voices crying out against government policies that lurch from crisis to crisis exasperating the support base that it relies on. He or she must recognise the need to win broadbased support for his or her new way of thinking and doing things.

I recently read a book entitled 'CEO Malaysia' by HNG HUNG YONG which extolled what is referred to as ' the Mahathir Way' that saw Malaysia become one of the leading tigers in the Far East developing economies. Dr Mahathir Mohammed, one of Malaysia's longest serving Presidents presided over his country's longest period of economic expansion and in his book entitled 'The Challenge" he courageously condemned Islamic extremists for keeping back Muslims from developing and advancing to the stage they once where. We too, Mr President have extremists within the ruling party and across the country and we hear their vitriolic speeches in public platforms which seek to sweep away the advantages and rights we gained after almost 60 years of a liberation struggle.

We have a "Vision 2020" but we have hardly left the starting blocks because SA is riven by factionalism within the ruling party leaving you, indecisive and allowing such treasonable conduct to fester in the wound of our body politics and you eschew the antidote for that by your failure to provide us with a comprehensive sense of direction. As an aside, when Vision 2020 was unveiled by Mahathir Mohammed, it was embraced by a hitherto ethnically divided national riven by social tensions with such pervasiveness that, just as we have in SA, there were politicians championing narrow sectarian interests. As I wrote earlier on we need a leader who has the capacity to sell his vision to a broadbased community and get its support which is what Mr Mahathir Mohammed successfully got to do.

We need such a leader who, can emulate the Mahathir Way, tailored to suit our body politics who like Hugo Chavez dares to go against western conventional thinking, as a manager of limited resources and become instrumental in jumpstarting our economy during these intensely deep recession times. The critical challenge, Mr President, facing you today is how to navigate SA out of its servile economy which is lurching towards an abyss as a result of the economic meltdown in the Eurozone countries. The NDP has promises but its success depends to a considerable extent on you, on what you do and on what you don't, on what you say and what you don't say. We need a leader who is prepared to, in the national interest, exercise a firm grasp on the SA economy, especially its direction and pace of growth.

If you are that leader Mr President, then show us...

Saber Ahmed Jazbhay

@jazlaw24

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