Alarm bells should be ringing at the events that we have witnessed over the past few weeks in South Africa. The time for passivity has passed and now is the time for ordinary South Africans to rise up and take a stand, lest we go down the same route as the rest of the continent.
We have a president whose family are getting richer and richer through their political connections whilst the majority of the country is becoming increasingly impoverished. This means that we are fast becoming a kleptocracy, like Mobutu’s Zaire where the first family is growing increasingly affluent at the expense of the rest of society.
The president’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela own a company which has failed to pay its poor workers for over a year, to such an extent that one of those workers recently committed suicide after having lost everything he owned as he could not afford to pay his monthly bills, yet at the same time we see the president’s nephew donating over a million rand to the ruling party and living opulently, drinking expensive champagne, smoking the finest Cuban cigars and showing off his assortment of expensive cars. All of this is happening right before our eyes and apart from the usual complaints and moans by ordinary South Africans, no one is moved enough to take radical action.
The police shoot an innocent protestor who is part of a crowd that is protesting against lack of service delivery by government, in scenes reminiscent of the way the Apartheid-era police force treated black people and yet again apart from the usual suspects moaning and complaining there is no mass reaction to this shocking occurrence.
A government minister has the audacity to spend hundreds of thousands of rands of government money travelling overseas to go visit his imprisoned girlfriend under the guise of conducting official government business and yet again ordinary South Africans are surprisingly apathetic and not shocked enough to be stirred to action. This same minister is also building an expensive mansion in his rural homeland, at the taxpayer’s expense, with a road being built to go past his house even though the surrounding areas are characterised by lack of infrastructure and basic services and yet again we are surprisingly passive and not angered enough to take action.
State security agencies and the intelligence community are used in the factional battle for power within the ruling party and no one is alarmed enough to issue a call to action to the South African citizenry. All these things seem to have become so normal that it seems that we no longer get shocked as South Africans. I could go on and on because the stories are endless but the point has been made. How did Mandela’s Rainbow Nation degenerate to this level? What will it take for us to say enough is enough? I am no alarmist. I am no Afro-pessimist as some typically parochial black Saffas may call me. I am just a concerned South African, saying enough is enough!
We need to draw the line right now before it is too late. South Africa is on the same trajectory as most post-independence African states and sadly for us that is not an upward curve. Most post-independence African states degenerated into kleptocracy and eventually became failed states because ordinary citizens ignored all the obvious signs of decay and suffered from a foolish sense of exceptionalism and I fear that we in South Africa are guilty of the same. It is time for mass action, for “Tunisian style” protests and civilian action against our government and the levels of corruption, mediocrity, conceit and naked thuggery that are fast destroying the great potential that this nation possesses. We need “Tunisian style” protests in order to force the regime to change its modus operandi, improve its performance and its attitude towards its citizens; otherwise we will be guilty of “fiddling whilst Rome burns.” The time for action is now fellow South Africans. It is time to take a stand. It is time for action. May history not record the words of the Irish poet, W B Yeats as being true of contemporary South Africa, “things fall apart, the centre cannot hold….the best lack all conviction whilst the worst are full of passionate intensity.”