SA spiralling out of control like a spent rocket and its harming our future

2015-08-06 20:37

I am writing this blog piece during one of the debilitating bouts of load shedding and I recall what Alan Paton wrote in an essay entitled "A more beloved country" way back in October 1983.

If memory serves me well,( but I am subject to corrections if I err) F.W.De Klerk was in office at that time and secret meetings between the NATS and the ANC were taking place, in ernest,in countries such as,inter alia, in Dakar in Senegal.

As the winds of liberation transformed to gale force and in anticipation of the inevitable,Paton was concerned about how to achieve "a just and reasonably happy society".

Speaking plainly,Paton presciently believed that both sides would lose the plot during their euphoric moments of getting to know each other and feeling each other out, and making overtures towards ending the often violent confrontations tearing at the guts of SA. History and time has proven Paton to be spot on. Why?

Thirty two years later SA is anything but a just and reasonably happy society even if one undertakes a perfunctory audit of the state of affairs.It would not be a hyperbole to declare that SA is spiralling out of control like a rocket that blasted off with hope and aspiration towards space but during its upward trajectory it lost momentum and inevitably got spent and is doomed to crash imperilling all on board. So what went wrong? I submit deliberate erosion of the principle of the rule of law.

How often have our courts reminded government about its lapses and failures in governance matters?

The one issue that Paton strongly advocated that needed to be achieved was a not negotiable restoration of the rule of law. Yes it's enshrined in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. However it's been seen as a liability and a hindrance by leaders within the tri-partite alliance who seek its amendment ( or dilution)  alternately it being scrapped altogether.

Paton wrote during the recurring after shocks of the seismic event that history remembers as Soweto uprising and clearly he saw that this principle was badly haemorrhaging at every level of society then under siege. Nothing has changed. Recall that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng addressing this issue recently and a meeting between the judiciary and the executive is due to take place shortly.

We may boast that we have one of the most vibrant human rights oriented and aspirational constitutions in the world but arguably the enshrining provisions are flaccid at best because of the flagrant violations by the ruling party of this principle. Paton saw how critical it was to secure this principle.

A vivid example of the erosion I lament about, is the histrionics on the part of senior members of the ANC and government against the findings of the Public Protector and the time and efforts made to subvert her findings.If the ANC respected this principle ,it would have taken steps towards ensuring the integrity of the office of the Public Protector.

Law, argued Paton, means that if a wrong has been prima facie been alleged to have taken place, then no one could punish the wrong doer, except a court of law. We have a head of state who was indicted for offences but is yet to be tried and judged by a court of law.

Just as the rule of law eroded in 1983, I fear, the same is occurring,32 years later in 2015 at the behest of the ruling party. The rule of law, to paraphrase Paton, is one of the greatest political achievements of human kind.Every South African,"from the highest to the lowest, from the richest to the poorest are (supposed to be) protected and judged by an authority that we recognise above us all."

Most certainly the majority of us have a great love for , and we are loyal to,the country in which we live and in which we were born and we want to make it better. Being loyal citizens requires from us a commitment to serve it and to want to make it more just to everyone.

As loyal South Africans we cannot ignore its faults.Loyalty means that we must see the faults and we want to correct them.

We can and we must not abdicate our duty as responsible and concerned citizens united by the will and commitment to eradicate the factors that will contribute towards the much touted crash and to make South Africa rise again and to soar above and beyond the banality that assaults us every day.

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