We Have Begotten a Government of Wolves

2014-04-29 15:22

Bertrand de Jouvenal’s famous quip, that ‘a society of sheep must, in time, beget a government of wolves’ seems no more true than today. The ANC’s decision to shut down the Ad Hoc Committee on the Public Protector’s Report into the Nkandla scandal proves the ANC is no longer even attempting to pretend that it cares about the rule of law or the institutions that underpin them. In its unwavering commitment to protecting President Zuma it has confirmed the worst accusations that its opponents have made against it: it is an undemocratic and unaccountable party that will ruin our constitutional democracy if it is not stopped.

The reasons advanced by the ANC committee members are paltry as best. Lindiwe Mazibuko rightfully described them as being ‘reprehensible’. This is the most serious issue of our constitutional epoch: the President is accused of violating his solemn oath of office. And the ANC thinks it is acceptable to wish these away; a lack of time being the excuse. Whether that is reflective of the ANC’s inability to work to a deadline or its wish to protect Zuma at any cost, or both, is yet to be determined. As Kenneth Gailbraith said, ‘Meetings are indispensable when you do not want to do anything.’

What is clear however is that it wants to do whatever it can to take Nkandla out of this electoral cycle. By advancing a position that this should be dealt with by the 5th Parliament – on the grounds that it will have more time – it is evident that the ANC thinks that shutting down the Committee will make people forget. In a spectacular own goal, however, the ANC have achieved the exact opposite.

Despite the picture put up by one of the ANC MPs serving on the Committee showing the ANC members’ gleeful faces after the motion to suspend the committee was accepted, they have managed to keep the issue very much alive. Because that Report will not go away. And neither will Nkandla. For as long as it remains so too will the public’s hunger to get answers. And try as the ANC might, that’s one case of hunger it cannot satisfy.

The prima facie evidence in the Report indicates that while Zuma may not be guilty for deliberately misleading Parliament, he is still sufficiently guilty of other serious offences that warrant him paying the country back and being held accountable for it.

It is also sufficiently serious that the Official Opposition have made the unusual move of trying to get Zuma impeached rather than removed by a motion of no confidence. The former is more difficult because the legal grounds to impeach, in terms of section 89 of the Constitution, are far narrower than those for a motion of no confidence, in terms of section 102; and they require more MPs to vote against Zuma, MPs the Opposition does not have.

But South Africans must make no mistake that we have every opportunity to stop the ANC’s descent into madness. These elections are crucial to building the momentum that is necessary to bring about a change in power in 2019. The loss of the Western Cape, at least, and Gauteng and the Northern Cape, at best, must start the process of a greater realignment in our politics. Should we not do so, the ANC’s continuing hollowing out of the state and undermining of good governance will ultimately bring about our own ruin. While South Africa is not like other states that experienced ‘Arab Spring’ moments, it is clear that bad governance can only be tolerated for so long. When it cannot be tolerated any longer the state itself is under threat of breaking. One wonders which of the ANC’s ever-growing scandals will be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

But in as much as we are the answer to the problem, we are also partly to blame. Many people complain bitterly about the lack of the ANC’s service delivery and then, confusingly, either vote for the ANC again or do not vote at all. While the former may do so for historical reasons that the ANC continue to manipulate (its role in the struggle and matters of race chief among them), the latter are wrong – notwithstanding their democratic rights to refrain from voting.

Their belief that a vote for a party equates to lifelong loyalty is the very reason we are in this situation in the first place: votes are not given, they are lent. If parties do not deliver, you vote for someone else. Even if no one truly represents what you want, voting tactically for the lesser of two evils counts more than not voting at all. For while not voting – or indeed spoiling your ballot – may make a symbolic gesture, they do not do anything to change the power of the ANC. The votes are not counted for the Opposition nor against the ANC.

The ANC is drunk on power and thinks that it does not need to change. A significantly reduced majority or being kicked out of power altogether (my preferred choice), even if for a short time, is the only thing that will make it face reality.

We are also partially to blame because we give the ANC the benefit of the doubt. As I have written elsewhere, that is neither fair (to ourselves) nor accurate (a reflection of the ANC). It has been given too many opportunities to make things right and it has abused our trust every time. This is just another, though wonderfully illustrative, example of that. And the fact that we keep on giving the ANC power and hoping that it will change – that it will regain its former glory and moral stature – is the equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns. The ANC, by its nature and by its experience, will abuse power because of its racial-nationalist, Marxist-Leninist tendencies.

And it must be stopped before it is too late. The Rainbow Nation is at stake.

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