Men With Guns

2016-08-11 12:19

Some years ago I suffered a complex trauma. The events shook me deeply and brought into sharp focus the priorities in my life. It became unnervingly clear that the role I was playing in pursuing my goals was incongruous with the value system I thought I held dear. And that if I wanted to re-direct, I would have to take a very frank look as to why I had veered off course in the first place and to take responsibility for being the person I had become. It would have been very convenient to blame the men with the guns, but this was not the full story. And deep down I knew that.

Just like the ANC knows. Just like the NEC knows. And just like President Jacob Zuma knows.

The ANC suffered a complex trauma in the local government elections. And it is very clearly time to take stock. They can blame the weather - they tried to do that – thinking that South Africans wouldn’t realize that the same temperatures affected all voters – not just ANC supporters. They can blame local Government and they can blame the EFF, the DA and the Whites and the foreigners and Mbeki and Van Riebeek. But until they have the courage to look in the mirror and to engage honestly with their demons, nothing can change, and sadly nothing will.

It’s not easy to do. Courageous conversations are not for sissies. They require a resolute and brave stubbornness and a desire to unpack the truth. And whereas the South African public have shown that they see the ANC for what it is, there are little signs indicating that the party itself does.

What is remarkable is how simple it is. The ANC of yesteryear gifted the country with the magnificent democratic value system, a world class constitution and a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness. Support who one might, one has to recognize the miracle of the 90’s that although imperfect, was a spectacular achievement. Further, one of the reasons that the local Government election of 2016 was mostly peaceful and was free and fair was thanks to the system that the ANC had put in place. And yet it is this core value that is at the heart of the reason that so many of ANC supporters either turned away or stayed away. The ANC has changed, the voters have not.

Given the various court rulings against the ANC and the President, given the messy and yet unresolved Gupta scandal, the State capture and the hideous and brutal corruption, the now infamous al-Bashir incident, the Nkandla debacle and the SABC disaster. Given the country’s power situation, the education crises and the health care situation. Given that unemployment is soaring and that the economy was brutalized by poorly chosen Ministers of Finance and that the poor have been let down, one has to wonder how the NEC, or those in a position of power at the ANC even know what to place on the Agenda. It will take more than a meeting just to read out the list of misdeeds, let alone deal with any of them in detail.

In most democratic countries any one of the above transgressions would have resulted in the President being removed from office. Cabinets would have resigned and Governments fallen. The ruling party would not have survived the week, let alone their term. The President would have been recalled and no amount of convincing the party would have allowed him to stay.

And yet the ANC leadership has allowed itself to be led into a situation so convincingly that they seem genuinely shocked and unable to process that the people of the country have turned away from them.

None of us like to confront our demons. It’s painful and unpleasant and even depressing at times. It is so much more comfortable to blame the guys with the guns. To look outward and not inward. The ANC has reached crises point and it needs to decide its future. It can choose to continue to live in denial, or it can remove the President from office and take back the party it has lost.

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