ANC centenary celebrations – A better life for all, will have to wait…
‘A better life for all’ will have to wait……
By: Max Du Preez
10 January 2012
The proudest, oldest liberation movement in Africa’s history. The movement that played a key role in isolating the apartheid regime and forcing them to the negotiating table through immense internal pressure. A movement that brought us two Nobel Peace laureates. A “beacon for the world”, in the words of British Prime Minister David Cameron.
This is all true. Would it then not follow that the ANC’s celebration of its founding day a century ago would be a momentous, joyous and historic occasion of great proportions?
It wasn’t. Not at all.
The man called the leader of the next generation of ANC leaders, Julius Malema, used the occasion to whip up emotions against the present leadership and against white South Africans. Some of the core ceremonies were for the privileged few only; the ordinary supporters simply having to jump out of the way for the one high-speed blue light brigade after the other. At the climax of the festivities, President Jacob Zuma haltingly read from a boring speech and by the time he was done, most people had left the stadium.
Just about the most memorable moment was when deputy president Kgalema Mothlanthe, surrounded by the ANC bigwigs with glasses of champagne in hand, proposed a toast “to ANC unity” and told the ordinary faithful that if they did not have champagne, they could take photographs of their leaders drinking, or raise clenched fists. “The leaders will now enjoy the champagne, and of course they do so on your behalf through their lips,” he said. As they have been doing for quite a while now.
Perhaps it would now finally dawn on those who still didn’t realise it that the ANC has stopped being a liberation movement and has become just an ordinary political party depending on history and ethnicity to stay in power. They did not, after all, learn from the mistakes other liberation movements in the region made after they took power.
I believe historians would one day point to the last five years or so of ANC rule and call it a shame and a tragedy. South Africa’s project to cement in a democratic culture and work towards an equitable society and a developmental state got stuck in the sand of faction battles, self-enrichment, corruption, nepotism and laissez-faire governance.
Since the Polokwane putsch four years ago, the ANC has increasingly targeted freedom of speech and launched an assault on the independence of the judiciary instead of broadening our democracy. Despite well-intentioned programmes to build houses for the poor and to supply water, electricity and sewerage systems to the millions who did not have it, the ANC has made no noticeable dent in the overwhelming poverty of the townships, squatter camps and rural areas and our education system remains one of the weakest in Africa.
There was a lot of angry talk and threats on social media this past weekend of ANC supporters blaming whites for the continued poverty and lack of development, some saying the settlement of 1994 was a mistake and the ANC leadership (read: Nelson Mandela) should never have “forgiven” whites for the evils of colonialism and apartheid.
I have no illusions of the enormous damage colonialism and apartheid had done to our society and that its after-effects can still be seen all around us. But this form of black anger is fast becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy; a doctrine all by itself. Isn’t it time that this anger be channeled to fuel the fires of a zealous project to turn this country into the winning project the world thought it was going to be after 1994?
Shouldn’t these angry people now turn to the politicians who spend hundreds of millions on their own luxurious lifestyles and allowed most of our local governments and much of our provincial governments to collapse? Shouldn’t we all be very angry about the way a whole generation of youngsters had their education messed up?
Those who spew venom at whites eighteen years after our liberation should go back and read what our great visionaries had written about freedom, democracy, development and “the national question”: Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, Oliver Tambo, Joe Slovo, Nelson Mandela and others. You don’t have to forgive and forget, but don’t let your hatred retard the growth and development of the people of South Africa.
Malema, hero to many of these bitter people, has previously said he wouldn’t rest until whites were “as poor as blacks”. Now he says he wants to see white domestic workers. I get the underlying emotion, the desire to punish. But wouldn’t it be much better if he fought for blacks to be “as rich as whites” and for all women to get meaningful, well-paid employment?
Zuma said some really good things in his centenary speech. But we only know one thing for sure: 2012 will be dominated by more power struggles in the ANC as it prepares for its elective conference in December. I suppose “a better life for all” will have to wait until next year.