Why I endorsed COPE

April 20, 2009 § 6 Comments

As an official egomaniac I thought that it was incumbent upon me to make my position clear given the current state of our nation. The desire to write this endorsement is also driven by the false notion that people might take what I have to say seriously. As the title suggests, I fully endorse the Congress of the People (Cope).

I have defended the ANC on numerous occasions on the “internets”, particularly on the video-sharing website known as YouTube. I defended it not because I always thought it was right, but because I felt that was my duty to defend the ruling party whenever I heard people misrepresent it and indirectly, the country. My defense of the ANC and the government got me into some heated exchanges with some fellow South Africans. I have even taken heat from right wing racists. (I’ve always wondered why are there no left wing radical racists? Just a thought). In fact, some racists would use the race card on me! They would call me racist because I chose to defend the African National Congress. I digress.

I have even gone as far as to say that if Jacob Zuma does become the president of the Republic it wouldn’t be the end of the world because the world’s leading ratings agencies like Moody’s and others said that there would be no major policy shifts if Zuma takes over. I said these things after Polokwane. As uncertain as I was of a Zuma presidency at the time, I thought it prudent to give the man and the new leadership a chance after his camp was elected into office.

I went on to quote Warren Buffet who once said, “You should invest in a business that even a fool can run, because someday a fool will.” I made the example that South Africa has a strong constitution and an independent judiciary. So even if a fool runs the country it will be fine because of the structures in place. I was also fully aware of the fact that some people would deliberately twist my words and imply that I called Jacob Zuma a fool.

I have even gone as far as to say that white people needed to join the ANC and stop moaning so that they can change it if they don’t like it. If you complain from the sidelines, nothing will change I said. I was taken to task for making these suggestions. But these suggestions stimulated the kind of debate I had hoped they would on YouTube.

I said all those things because I believed them at time. Indeed the ANC will change to what it was meant to be, perhaps even better than what it was meant to be, but it won’t happen next year or tomorrow. The ANC won’t just change. When it finally decides to change it will be too late. It will be because it will be forced to. The most dynamic organisations are the ones that change before they have to.

I joined the Youth League because I believed that it was better to be involved than to complain about Fikile Mbalula. If I was part of the YL then I could make my voice heard and ensure that the next Youth League president was of a better quality than him. It was my strong belief that being part of the ANC was the only way one could have a voice and change it from the direction I believed it was headed. Unfortunately this did not happen.

I will give an account of an ANCYL meeting I attended where the chairperson of my then branch opened up a discussion on some outlandish statement that Julius Malema had made. He asked if anyone had anything to say. As I was a new member I thought I’d wait until someone said something before I expressed my views. No hand went up for about a minute. “If no one has something to say I have something to say.” I said. I suggested that my branch write a letter to him and let it be known that we distance ourselves from what he had said, we thought it was unbecoming of a disciplined member of the organization. After I spoke all hands went up without hesitation. They did not agree with me because our branch would lose benefits, it would be targeted as an undesirable branch that goes against the president. What I found puzzling was that no one contradicted the merits of my case against Julius Malema, they were worried about the benefits the branch and the members stood to lose.

Only one other person stood up to agree with me. Then I stated that one of the key tenants of our branch was moral regeneration. How moral were we being if we agreed that Julius Malema was wrong but we are too worried about losing benefits? What is more moral I asked, the fear of losing benefits or standing for what we claim to believe in on paper? What is moral about giving in to fear I asked. I lost the battle.

Needless to say, this incident and others convinced me that people were afraid of disagreeing with the higher ups for fear of retribution. I could no longer be part of a political party that had sowed such fear amongst its own.

As you can imagine, it was with great pain and reluctance that I decided to leave.

The reason I endorse Cope is because of a Martin Luther King quote Barack Obama often used during his campaign. He would say, “I am running because of what Dr King referred to as ‘the fierce urgency of now.’” Obama never quoted the whole passage; he always quoted those five words, “the fierce urgency of now.”

Allow me to quote Dr King’s entire passage: “We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood-it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect.”

I don’t want my generation to be in that invisible book that says we were not vigilant and that we were neglectful when we saw that we were headed towards a cliff.

As Dr King so eloquently put it, “There is such a thing as being too late.” Zimbabwe is a case in point. When the people of Zimbabwe decided to stand up, it was too late.

I believe that we cannot wait for another five years for the ANC to change. The world is in a global financial crisis. We cannot afford to wait when the poor get poorer. We cannot afford to wait another five years for justice to be served differently depending on one’s political standing. We cannot afford to wait another five years for the ruling party to remove the president from office at a whim. We cannot afford to have the entire machinery of the ruling party dedicated to making sure that an individual never gets his day in court. We cannot afford to wait when our judges are being called counter revolutionaries. We cannot afford to be too late.

Lest we forget that the future president of this country lacks judgment. He knowingly had sex with an HIV positive woman – without a condom. I cannot entrust the future of my country to someone who makes such reckless decisions, nor to men and women who decided that he should be the one to head the ANC. Make no mistake about it, I still think that he is a humble, likeable guy, but that is not enough for my vote. I have to be responsible with my mark on Wednesday.

Now, some of us have decided to vote for the ruling party because we know it will win. It’s human nature. No one wants to feel like a loser. Some are just voting for bragging rights so that, come Wednesday or Thursday, they can say they won. Again, it’s human nature, we can’t blame them for that. People by nature are followers we have a herd mentality. We want to feel like we are part of the winning team. But I would rather lose with a clear conscience than win with a guilty one.

I want to be able to say to my children that when the time came for me to stand up, I did. And not only did I stand, I walked and ran. Because standing is not enough; acting is what counts.

I support Cope’s call of having a president elected by the people. Right now, the people are under the impression that they elect a president when in fact it is parliament that does.

I endorse Cope because it will be accountable to the people. The leadership will not tell the people what to do; it is the people that will tell the leadership what to do. The people lead the movement.

I support Cope because of its instance that there should be a separation between party and state. We have seen that the ruling party sees itself as the state by how it has pressured the NPA into dropping charges against the president of the ruling party. This is the main reason that Cope has a separate presidential candidate and party president. The party president will go around the country making sure that those Cope leaders who are in parliament are actually delivering what they were sent there to do. It’ not just about being in touch with people when their vote is needed.

I support Cope because it believes that the highest of the high and the lowest of the low should get equal treatment before the law.

I support Cope because it believes in affirmative action without reservation. Cope wants to make sure that the policies written on paper are implemented more effectively. It believes that blacks should not just be filtered into junior positions, but should be mentored and equipped with skills so that they can fill senior management positions faster. It calls for the end of employing unqualified people for positions when there are many blacks who have the necessary skills for those jobs and to quote my friend Anele Mdoda, “This eliminates ‘oh you were hired, just because you black’ attitude that many face on daily basis when they actually are competent and excel at their jobs.”

I support Cope because it believes that a party that is truly interested in serving the people will not threaten them by saying that they will lose grants if they don’t vote for it.

I support Cope because it will be South Africa’s first truly diverse political party, where all members of our country will be represented in their numbers. The enthusiasm for Cope spans racial, religious and class lines.

One of the things that impressed me the most about Cope was when one of its youth leaders said something off colour about the president of the ruling party. An apology was issued. There were no excuses, no attempt to spin what had been said, there was no going to a laager to defend the indefensible. Cope did not wait for other political parties to speak out before an apology was issued. We cannot say the same thing of the ruling party. We waited for months for an apology for some of the statements that were made by its youth leader. Even the apology was a non-apology; they went on to blame the media. One of the things I’ve learnt is never ruin an apology with an excuse.

Cope is not perfect. No political party is. It would be a mistake to believe that there is. Even churches cannot claim that. But what I hope Cope will do, is at least to try to make this country move forward, look ahead and not backwards. I know that it will give the people of this nation hope that there are better days ahead for us as a nation.

These are just some of the reasons I endorse Cope.


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§ 6 Responses to Why I endorsed COPE

  • Moses Zabalaza says:

    Congratulations Khaya, We will do well on Wednesday!

    There is nothing that better speaks truth to power than holding one’s head up high even in the greatest adversity.

    Allow me to quote you quoting Obama quoting King, “…Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect.”
    By Rudyard Kipling

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

    If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with triumph and disaster
    And treat those two imposters just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breath a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

  • Micky says:

    Hey Khaya

    Great stuff again. Lets hope that people will not conveniently miss the gist of your thoughts here and concentrate on why you should not endorse ANY alternative party, but rather get to understand the importance of what “the fierce urgency of now” really means…

    I’m excited and thankful for the alternative I have when I vote tomorrow knowing very well we won’t win this time round but hey….”would rather lose with a clear conscience than win with a guilty one!!”

    “There is such a thing as being too late,” and maybe remember there is for sure no perfect alternative, but there is defenitely a party that can offer much more potential and hope than some.

    Take care

  • […] Africa’s award-winning blogger Khaya Dlanga explains why he’s voting for the Congress of the People (Cope). I support Cope because it will be South Africa’s first truly diverse political party, where […]

  • If I had read this before wednesday I probably would have voted another way. I do however fear that “COPE” is just a break off of ANC to win votes away from the DA only to merge later. Conspiracy theories. Also – I read something in the COPE manifesto that unnerved me a little. Maybe I misread or misinterpreted what it was saying – but the whole race thing – I was left feeling a little uneasy.

    I do have hope for them and I hope that over the next 5 years they turn out to be as good as you are making them out to be. And in 5 years they can convince the unthinking masses to vote for them based on principals it has followed and will continue to over the coming years as opposed to empty promises the ANC tends to make.

  • Patrick says:

    Great article, Khaya. Your tale of the ANCYL meeting is salutary.

  • I just started to read your blog and I like it. I watched your video regarding whites joining the ANC and agreed… at the time. I think a lot of whites always complain about the state of South Africa’s government but let’s face it, years and years of a fascist government yield certain results. You cannot turn into a utopia overnight. In 15 years you guys did well.

    At first I agreed, joined the ANC, change it from within butthen I thought it would be impossible. I’m a democrat and I wouldn’t dream of joining the republican party to change it (I live in the USA). The ideaology is different. There’s got to be a better way. We also had a moron in office for 8 years and no one thought of it until we find out now that his policies ruined our economy and now we find out that he sanctioned torture. Yet we have the audacity to invade Iraq on the pretense that Hussein committed human rights violations.

    I looked up COPE and really agree with their policies. They seem to be a part of a world wide movement of politicians seeing the dire situation of the world and not being bothered by petty politics – our amazing president Obama is a prime symbol of it.

    I guess what I’m saying is that us logical thinking humans need to start making our voice heard. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

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