We can make a difference... so why keep voting for a corrupt ANC?

2012-12-13 05:56

The anger that forgot where it came from...

In last week’s blog, I talked of the myriad voices which lend our society value, and shared the optimistic sentiment that there’s much to celebrate.

In general, positivity seems a catalyst which releases, from near and far, disappointment, bitterness, regret and resentment. A stream of invective flows from all quarters as readers pit themselves against each other to argue whether there’s hope, or not, for this country.

Perhaps this is the rub: in general terms, citizens had high expectations of post-apartheid life. Perhaps the magical thinking was naive, that we ‘should’, after decades of struggle, after sacrifice and anguish, all live happily ever after as a ‘rainbow’ nation. To believe that race groups could easily kiss and make up, that the legacy of apartheid wouldn’t leave a lasting stain, deep wounds in fact, on society was unrealistic. As was the belief that the well-being of the population at large would remain a priority with a new government.

If we look towards history and psychology, they teach firstly that the abused (and powerless) in turn become abusers. No surprise then that members of the new black elite, once diminished and downtrodden, should now come full-circle to blatantly exploit the electorate.

And secondly, psychology is clear on the theory that those who don’t transform disappointment adopt a ‘victim’ mentality. Poor me. It’s not going my way. Boo hoo. Whites are redundant. We have to share and we don’t want to. South Africa sucks. Let’s throw our toys out the cot.

That said, I want to talk about the ANC...

The national government has failed bitterly. Much of the ‘good stuff’ I personally see value in, is not coming from the government (I never said it was). It comes from individuals and organisations who are motivated to make a difference.

Indeed, the national government does what it wants with the tax money provided. Corruption and cronyism currently headline every newspaper as reports and commentators keep exposing Zuma and his benefactors, a number of them criminals.

Zuma, the ANC ‘problem child’, seems clueless about his finances as wives, brothers, countless offspring and pals benefit from whatever ‘gifts’ come his way. The fact that national government hides behind antiquated apartheid legislation to keep Zuma fat and comfy is an abuse of power, especially when it happens at the expense of the people. The willy-nilly selfish spend of our hard-earned tax cash on whatever meets national government’s agenda, from the waste of Nkandla to the proposed Saartjie Baartman memorial in Hackney, Eastern Cape (another fork-out of 168 million for the project which could be used to create infrastructure for living people), is frightening. It’s clear that the part of the rainbow the ANC is most concerned with is the mythical pot of gold that lies at the end of it.

When it comes to the list of failures laid at national government’s feet, in no order of importance it includes the complacency that a 30% matric pass is adequate, reports of textbooks dumped to rot in fields by government funded suppliers, the ongoing crisis of prisons run by gangsters, potholes in national highways, the closing of Rape Crisis, pervasive corruption in the police service, lack of housing, lack of water, poor delivery service in every province except for the Western Cape. The complaints, backed by statistics, are endless....

It is a breach of trust, and a travesty, that individuals and projects that do so much good (and there are many of them) are not supported by a forward thinking, progressive and committed national government they deserve.

With Mangaung on the horizon then, and the Big Question arising whether Zuma will remain the ANC’s choice for president, the crux of the matter, for me, is not who stays and who goes. The crux of the matter is that national government, as an entity, no matter who leads it (one hopes another greedy, corrupt so-called leader won’t simply step into the role of puppet on a string) knows it can keep conning the people because it is the people who do so little about ensuring change.

Again, one has to take history into account (yes, the fact that citizens have traditionally voted ANC in extended support of the Liberation movement) but too many South African citizens keep voting in a national government that has let them down in every possible way.

Which brings me to the power within...

It is vital to challenge any fat-cat abuser, any policy or law that erodes this democracy so hard fought. Equally, it’s time to shrug off the cloaks of ‘victim’ or ‘habit’ and know that we can make a difference.

The responsibility for keeping our democracy strong is ultimately ours. Yours and mine.

Each individual can make an effort to co-create a more caring and responsible society. The most effective way to say NO to government mismanagement and corruption is to vote with our feet.

When it come to anger, perhaps each of us can recognise, even from positions of polarity about South Africa, that anger is the tip of the iceberg which indicates the disappointment, regret, resentment and powerless referred to earlier. Do we too easily give ourselves permission to explode, exposing in ourselves the very traits we insist we are fighting against – racism, intolerance, an inability to put our selfish selves aside for a greater good?

As the Dalai Lama teaches, the enemy is not the person, or the ‘thing’ that we hate (the government perhaps, or Zuma) but the actual emotions of anger, hate and greed in each of us.

‘Hope’, as the last of the forces to escape from Pandora’s Box after the release of all the evils that afflict mankind, might still be dismissed by some as a ‘malevolence’ which fuels the do-good, optimistic mentality that pessimists rail against.

But I prefer philosopher A.C. Grayling’s punt: ‘It is the eternal springing of hope, the crazy, fact-denying, sustaining, deceiving, motivating impulse of hope that keeps 95% of the world’s population believing something better might happen despite the slimmest of evidence that it will...’ He revels in the fact that he is an optimist of the first water.

I am satisfied to be in his camp. That does not mean that I don’t decry the waste and corruption that national government is responsible for. Although some people are fueled by anger to be pro-active, hope and optimism, tempered with an understanding of reality, can certainly motivate people to stand up and be counted. It's time we did just that.

I'm on twitter @JoanneHichens

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