I really love the quaint civil society assertion that they will somehow be able to defeat this most vulgar attack on our freedom of speech and constitutional dispensation being perpetrated at present by the ANC, both in their roles as the party of government and supposedly the party of freedom.
Talking to friends, whether they be lawyers, journalists and other simple middle class professionals like myself (you know, taxpayers…) – there seems to be mass delusion taking hold – that the Protection of Information Bill and/or the proposed Media Appeal Tribunals will somehow not be pushed through by our pliant Parliament and increasingly compromised judiciary.
There is a very real, and terrifying possibility that should the bill and the proposed tribunals become law, and the opposition fails in its Section 80 referral of the law to the Constitutional Court (or indeed, even if that is successful), and a test case is sent to the ConCourt instead that the highest court on matters constitutional may in fact rule in favour of the ANC. Just ponder that one for a moment…
That is the silence that precedes the complete collapse of freedom. South African patriots, democrats, constitutionalists, liberals, trade unionists and just plain old people (you know, people – the stuff that makes up the country itself) should start considering what they are going to do if this happens. It is no good to simply assert that it can’t happen – how is this different to the high priests of the Temple simply refusing to believe that the Romans would burn down their holiest of holies.
If the history of humanity is any guide, those who run rough shod over freedom don’t hesitate when something as trivial as a constitution faces the jack boot of despotic greed and a thirst to suckle at the teat of the state and the resources it can command even when oppressing a people as resilient as South Africans.
Look yourself in the mirror and ask: What will I do if I live in a country in which the press isn’t free and the common man has no public advocate? For many of the older generation of white South Africans the answer was easy – do nothing, watch Rugby, carry on as usual, and enjoy the benefits. But the new generation of South Africans, white and black, who never knew Apartheid, and have only known freedom will have to ask themselves afresh what it is to be a citizen of a country in which the state shoves its gloved fist down the throat of the citizen who wishes to expose corruption and moral degeneration in the party and the state.
The ANC is showing itself to be uncharacteristically competent in attacking media freedom. If only they had the capacity to deal with matters like service delivery and land reform with such clarity of purpose and vision.
We constantly hear of voices in the ANC being silenced, who in fact agree with the media and opposition, that the current attack on the media is not true to the heritage of the Old Struggle ANC (The party that looks to be buried along with Mandela when he perishes). But when the State President himself, in his capacity as ANC president writes that he sees nothing wrong in the current proposed policies of the party and state towards the media then we have long crossed the Rubicon.
If the few democrats in the ANC NEC think that they will somehow swing the party back to sanity and respect for human rights at the NGC in September then clearly they don’t listen to the party’s own president, spokespeople and publications.
I am a democrat. And whilst I may think it is helpful that the distraction of the ID is no longer going to waste the time of the Democratic Alliance – it is increasingly looking like the true majority buster of the ANC will not be the new majority of the DA, but rather, like so many other African countries before it – the saviour of South Africa’s democracy will come from a powerful and robust trade union based political party – most likely led by COSATU.
This party will most likely look a lot like the MDC, and in fact you may well see a realignment (there is Zille’s word) occurring in which the DA happily veers to the left of centre to join COSATU in occasional coalition to legislate.
Of course all of this would be predicated on COSATU leaving the Alliance. Will that happen? Will the loss of our freedom of speech, which looks increasingly likely despite the pissing into the wind of the media and civil society, be the straw that breaks the donkey’s back? OR will Vavi and South African labour need an even graver affront to their rights and the constitution before realising that the rum sipping exiles and new black nationalists who loot the state coffers, have completely stolen the country that COSATU proved itself to be master of during the mass action of the late 80’s and early 90’s?