April 23, 2009 § 5 Comments
I walk into the voting station and a surge of emotion overcomes me, maybe it’s adrenaline or my mind is beginning to realize what I’m about to do, I don’t know, I’m not a shrink.
I tell the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) official who had my Identity Document (ID) to handle it with care because it’s in pieces, literally. I even tried to staple the pages together at some point because I wanted to prevent the pages from falling off, but some of the staples have fallen off. The black and white photo in the green ID does not look anything like the owner. In the photo I like a criminal, a wanted man, in fact it looks like a mug shot. Before I even present it to the IEC official I tell her that I promise the man inside there that doesn’t look like me, is in fact me. She opens the ID, looks at me and does not believe that it’s me. Then she says she can tell by the eyes, she laughs and shows the unfortunate ID photo to another official, who laughs at the state of the ID then at me. I’m unperturbed, I experience this mockery every time I go to a bank.
In fact I experienced it outside while in the queue when my so called friends laughed (yes, you Xolisa, Anele, Fix, Simone and Sizwe) their rear ends off, first at the state of my ID which has seen many a washing machine trips, then at my photo. They mocked me by playing cards with its pages. Fix even had the audacity to impersonate the host of an ancient TV program, “Ngomgqibelo Kamukibelo”. She pretended that the pages were money. She counted as she handed me the pages of my ID one by one by shouting, and all of them in unison, “One hundred! Two hundred! Three Hundred!” Not funny.
Inside the voting stations I can feel anxiety go through me and I try to distract myself by talking to the bored and tired elections officials. They direct me to the lady that’s going to put ink on my thumb to prove that I had in fact voted. I notice that she looks tired and irritable, I mention this to her and she tells me she’d been there since 6 in the morning. As she paints my thumb with the purple ink I tell her that I am disappointed with her job because, “I thought you were going to write, ‘I love Khaya.’” She laughs and retorts by saying “Maybe next time.” At least I leave her smiling. My heart is pounding and I feel a little shaky.
I move on to the next table where I am given my ballot paper. I take it and I make some stupid comment, as I am prone to do. The guy laughs, then I proclaim my nervousness and the official tells me to go do my duty for my country, I oblige. I arrive at the booth and unfold my ballot and see the million and one party name on the ballot paper and realize that a number of trees no longer exist so we could vote.
After unfolding my ballot, just before I make my cross, I put my hands on my face for a couple of seconds and say a little prayer, my heart is beating from what I can imagine is adrenaline. I look down and I see the ANC, DA and Cope. Those are the only parties I see for some reason. I take a deep breath. I can’t believe I’m about to vote for anyone but the ANC. I reach out for the pen inside the booth and lift it towards me. I put my hands on my face again and ask God to help me be guided by reason and not emotion. After all I will not be voting for the party of Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and many other heroes. I did not anticipate the profound trauma I would feel.
The moments before putting the cross are traumatic. Eventually I make my mark next to Cope. It feels good but I am emotioned out. Earlier, a cousin of mine had told us that voting felt very emotional for him, especially realizing that he was not voting for the ANC. I just thought that he was being a girl. I took no heed to what he experienced.
I can imagine that some people who may have intended to put their cross next to Cope must have been so overwhelmed with emotion that they just marked by the green, gold and black flag.
Finally I will myself out of the voting booth after what seems like unaphakade (an eternity). I walk to the ballot box. I try to get over my emotional state by joking with the elections official who has been given the mundane but crucial task of making sure that we insert our ballots in the cardboard ballot box. As I place my ballot in the box stuffed with ballot papers, I smile as though posing for a camera. I pose for a second anticipating a camera flash. I ask the election official, “Dude, where are the cameras and the news folk?” He laughs and tells me that maybe they didn’t know I was going to cast my vote over there.
In the car, my friends ask me if I was ok because I was very quite. I tell them I am. I am on my phone updating my twitter (follow me on http://twitter.com/khayadlanga). That was not the reason for my silence though, I was just coming to terms with what had happened in the voting booth. A lot was going through me. It was not easy not voting for something I had loved for so long. It felt like a break up. But voting for Cope felt right and amazing. Voting for this 125-day-old baby. She is a child that I have to look after now, take care of and make sure I never have to abandon her, or she me.
April 6, 2009 § 4 Comments
South Africans remind me of a girl with an abusive boyfriend. He beats (excuse my Xhosa) the shit out of her. Every now and then he tells her “I won’t beat you again, I love you”. They cuddle up and cosy up. Then he beats her up again. The girl knows the relationship is not ideal, it is not the best relationship but keeps making excuses for him and his behaviour. “But he loves me” she keeps telling her friends through broken teeth and ribs.
Then she says: “Anyway before I met him I was down and out and in the dumps. I had nothing. I was a nobody. He made me who I am. He took me in, helped me get a good job and a better education. He introduced me to celebrities, Moet, cigars and all the glitz and glamour. He cares for me even though he gave me a blue eye yesterday and will probably give me another tomorrow. To be fair I owe him.”
She believes in her heart of hearts that she cannot find anyone better. “I am used to him” she tells friends who tell her to get out of the relationship. “I don’t want to get used to someone new all over again.” Then she continues to stay in the abusive relationship where she used to be the significant other and is now the insignificant other. The many trips to the hospital do nothing to dissuade her. Like a perfect gentleman he goes to the hospital to pick her up when she leaves the hospital because he cares. She never lays charges. She is convinced that he still cares because he was sweet enough to pick her up from the hospital.
“He only beats me because he loves me” she tells her friends. Of course by the time she wakes up it’s too late. This is what’s happening to South Africa right now. But we can change this, we only need to want to change the situation bad enough.
How badly do you want to get out of this relationship with the ANC?
March 30, 2009 § 2 Comments
Mr. Mpshe needs to be reminded of a little fact about South Africans this week – we are not a people born of cowards, nor men who place personal ambitions above what needs to be done for the people. We are born of men who stood up when it was more comfortable and beneficial to sit down. We are a people born of the same stuff that made Mandela sacrifice his freedom for 27 years; we are born of women who gave birth to Steve Biko who died bravely writing what he liked and what we have come to love. Biko showed the might of the nib of a pen facing off against the barrel of a gun. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. We are born of the nameless heroes who died fighting so that we could be free one day. This is what we are made of. Men and women who sacrificed despite the immense power and pressures that could have persuaded lesser men and women to do otherwise.
According to news reports we have been told that the NPA (National Prosecutions Authority) will seek to have the corruption charges against the man who could be president, Jacob Zuma, dropped. One must understand the position and the pressures that face the director of the NPA, Mr. Mpshe. There is the easy way out, drop the charges. By dropping them all that will happen will be wide ranging condemnation from opposition parties, the press and civil society. That’s all. If he decides to go ahead he will be pressured by the ANC in every way imaginable. They might even find dirt on him. Now is not the time for cowardice.
History often calls on those in positions of responsibility to choose to do what’s difficult or unpopular. Allowing Zuma to walk will be a popular decision with the electorate. But is it the right thing to do? The men and women of the NPA have history knocking on their doors. What are they willing to do? Mr. Mpshe, in the words of former American vice president, Al Gore, “Sometimes you have to be willing … to pick the hard right over the easy wrong.” We are told that it is not in the national interests to have Jacob Zuma going to court. It is precisely because it is not in the interests of the nation that he should go to court, so that we can judge for ourselves.
What is the hard right? The hard right is to investigate both Zuma and Mbeki if there is reason to investigate the former president. To drop these charges without having these so called tapes heard in court cannot serve our democracy well. We are being told that the former president has done something wrong, yet he has not been afforded the opportunity to defend himself. By dropping them, by implication, that tells us that there is evidence of wrong doing on Mbeki’s part. Are they going to be charge him yet Zuma hasn’t had his day in court? If there is evidence of interference on Thabo Mbeki’s part that does not mean that there was no wrong doing on Zama’s part either. Investigate both I say.
I suggest that Mr. Mpshe read A Man for All Seasons, a play by Robert Bolt. In it, Sir Thomas More is led to the gallows for refusing to bend to King Henry VIII’s wish to divorce his wife because she could not bear him a son. This is a man who believed in himself and his conscience despite the “national interests” concerns of the king not having a son. In our case, the king is Zuma.
More is a strong advocate for the rule of law in the play, even if it leads to his own execution. When his future son-in-law implores him to arrest a man whose perjury will eventually lead to More’s path to the gallows. More tells him that the man has broken no laws, he even tells him that the devil himself deserves his chance before the courts, “And go he should if he were the Devil himself until he broke the law!” More’s son-in-law is shocked at the idea of affording the Devil the benefit of law, but More is unwavering.
Then he goes on to lecture his future son-in-law, “What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? … And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”
So, do we really think we can stand upright in the winds that would blow the laws? The laws are there for our protection, that is why it should be and must be applied to all equally without fear or favour. To claim that we are not going to apply the laws because it is not in the “national interest” to do so is to show fear and favour. As the Devil should have his day in court to prove his innocence before his accusers, so must Jacob Zuma. Not forgetting that the law says innocent until proven guilty. The Devil in this case would be innocent excerpt before the eyes of the accusers who have evidence against him. Zuma too is innocent until proven guilty. But he must be afforded the opportunity to prove his innocence before his accusers.
Lest we forget, Jacob Zuma asked for his day in court, yet he has left no legal avenue unturned in order to avoid this day he has been screaming about. Let’s give it to him. He has threatened to spill the beans if he goes to court. Well, if he has bean to spill, let him spill them. And let those who are trained in the art of catching beans catch them. We want everyone responsible to be brought to book. The law should be applied without fear or favour. Mr Zuma, spill the beans! It is in the interests of the nation for you to do so. By saying nothing, you are still participating in the corruption of our government. It means you are aware of wrongdoing but have been willing to sit silently. You sir should not blackmail us.
How can the NPA accept as evidence, illegally obtained information? The wiretapping of a sitting president without the authorization of a judge? Where did these tapes come from? Who authorized the illegal wiretapping of a sitting president? Is that not treason? Why is there no outcry? If a president can be subjected to such blatant abuse of power, what chance do ordinary people like me have? We should have much fear for ourselves.
So far all we have are rumors, hearsay and we have no proof to judge whether the tapes are authentic or not. It is difficult to take these tapes seriously after the so-called “hoax emails” that made the rounds a while back that were wildly circulated amongst the Friends of Jacob Zuma. Then there was “proof” that Bulelani Ngcuka was an apartheid spy. There were no credible witnesses, no credible evidence and no credible facts to support a claim that was clearly designed to intimidate and pressure the former Director of Public Prosecutions. If there has been a conspiracy, it is the one that has been led against Bulelani Ngcuka. Marc Maharaj, and his friends failed to come up with any evidence proving that he was in fact a spy. Then the ANC misled the nation calling a press conference, assuring us, and fooling us into thinking that they were going to address an issue of national importance. National importance turned to be of national importance for the ANC to announce the defection of a little known Cope figure.
Granted, at times, especially in cases like the Zuma case – it is often difficult to tell the difference between prosecution and persecution. When one is prosecuted it is an easy and often necessary form of defense to shout persecution, painting oneself as a victim. Jacob Zuma is too powerful to persecute.
If there is a conspiracy against Zuma it should be proven in a court of law. The defense always states that conspiracies by nature are difficult to prove. Well, don’t make claims you can’t prove or defend. We don’t have any evidence, all we have are innuendos. If former president Thabo Mbeki is implicated, he must have his day in court, like Zuma. What are these national interests they speak of? Are Jacob Zuma’s and Shabir Schaiks interests now considered that highly? The arrogance of the ANC has taken an unprecedented step, where party and personal interests are dressed up as national interests. They can no longer distinguish what is of national interest, this is a clear indication that the ANC believes that it is South Africa. This country is not and does not belong to a political party. It is no wonder Thabo Mbeki was removed in the way he was.
Our nation cannot afford to have a prosecutions authority that is perceived to cave under political, powerful or from the pressures of the privileged. South Africa is becoming accustomed to the insulation of its elite from the law, yet leaves its ordinary down trodden citizenry, the very people it claims to represent to under representation by the law.
We cannot profess to be a truly democratic society when those who are sworn to protect it do everything in their power to subvert it for their own means.
By caving, Mr Mpshe, you are telling us, the children and future leaders, our brothers and sisters that it is acceptable to be a coward. I do not know what it is like to be in your position Mr Mpshe, nor do I wish to be. But you accepted it and you knew what you were getting yourself into, your country needs you, don’t choose the easy path.
To act as if there is nothing you and anyone else can do, as if this has been preordained, written in the stars, is not just giving up on yourself, you are giving up on your country, sir.
It is not written. It is not preordained that Zuma must walk away from these charges. To quote Cassius, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…” What happens to Zuma now is not in the stars. It is up to the facts before you Mr. Mpshe. It is your lips that will speak, your mind that will be applied – and it is your hand that will sign the document that decides this country’s fate. Just because you know that you are fighting a losing battle against the ANC does not mean you should cease to throw punches. Throwing in the towel is not an option. We are not a nation of quitters Mr. Mpshe.
The very notion that some individuals have more freedoms and liberties than others is not, should not and must not be accepted. Yet millions of us are willing to sit on our hands and applaud an insult to democracy, civil liberty and the basic tenant that “All are equal before the law.”
We have become victims of our liberation, hostages to our own freedom and slaves to those who think that we owe them for our liberation. I owe my liberty to man and no political party. It belongs to me. None of us owe it to anyone. This slavery to the ANC must come to an end.
We cannot profess to be a truly democratic country when the already, powerful, the already privileged have added privileges before the law. Nor can we boast to have the best constitution in the world when it is not honored. Mr. Mpshe, show us you have balls.
March 16, 2009 § 1 Comment
When I wrote the post about making friends with Julius Malema I was making a larger point on agreeing to disagree.
I am disturbed by the manner in which we conduct debate in this country. Disagreeing with a politician or someone in a powerful position earns one unflattering labels. When anybody raises views contrary to our own, we react emotionally and go on the attack. We don’t sit back to consider the possibility that the opposing view might have some value, even if we don’t agree with it. If you happen to work for a government institution and happen to support COPE for example, the days of your employment might be numbered. Our consciences are being bullied – the stomach is used as a weapon.
In our disagreements we are disagreeable. We seem to hold the view that he who disagrees with me must be an enemy. This is how COPE has been treated by the ruling party since it’s inception. And so we employ words most vile, demeaning and, if at all possible, humiliating. We saw examples of this when President Thabo Mbeki wrote his letters attacking the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu a few years ago. Of course the president had the best things to say about the archbishop as soon as they shared the view that Jacob Zuma could not be president. Those of you who have read any of my blogs know that I think highly of our former president, just because hold him in high regard ] does not mean I found everything he did or said agreeable. As citizens we should not be afraid of criticizing our leaders, nor fail to praise them when it is deserved. Not only do you owe it to yourselves but your country and the ideals of democracy and free speech.
I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln, who said during his first inaugural address, perhaps addressing the man he defeated: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” It is my hope that as we debate and comment on the state of the nation, we will be virtuous enough to heed Lincoln’s call for these bonds of affection that should not be broken in the heat of debate. The truth is many of those who left the ANC for COPE are friends with people in the ruling party. So I urge you, whatever side of the fence you are on, let not the bonds affection be broken by the pettiness of politics.
COPE’s presidential candidate Mvume Dandala put this very well during a radio interview when he said, “When you are building an alternative voice you are not trying to create enemies, but to get more people involved in making the country work better.” I hope the members of the ruling party understand this.
In politics, I have come to realize, the virtue of humility seems to have no place; it is seen as a weakness, and arrogance as a strength — how far off the truth that is. He who shouts the loudest is smartest and the strongest. It is sad indeed.
If we carry on this way, it won’t be long before we get to a point where questioning views held by those in leadership positions are regarded as unpatriotic. We have seen this happen in the United States; anyone who spoke up against the war in Iraq was called unpatriotic. We are coming dangerously close. Some comrades in the mass democratic movement have began to use the term “counter-revolutionary” with liberal ease in order to stifle debate. The possible firing of Dr Barney Pityana will set a dangerous precedent. Opposing views are not allowed, or you will be left in the wilderness – that seems to be the message.
As a consequence, men and women of this country will cease to heed their consciences, but rather worship at the altar of the state tender. A friend of mine who disagrees with the ruling party on almost every level cannot and will not admit this in public because he said, “My conscience will not feed me, tenders will.” His life depends on tenders. People like this support the ruling party without any sense of irony. The altar of the tender is that powerful. Can we blame him or judge him for this? We cannot. But what we should try to do to people like this is to convince them that “coming out” preserves the greater good.
Many of us are patriots who love this nation. We say what we think is wrong as one would tell someone one loves dearly, because love dictates that one doesn’t shut up if one thinks that the loved one is driving down a cliff at high speed — even at low speed, for that matter.
Unfortunately some of us have misguided ways of demonstrating their affection for this, the southern-most country on the African continent. It reminds me of an abusive husband who belittles his wife by telling her that she is nothing without him. The cruel lover says this in order to control her. (In our case control is in the form of government jobs and contracts.) When she does leave and manages to succeed, the jealous ex-husband has only unflattering things to say about her.
Since many of us profess to love South Africa, I want to know the following:
How would we treat her if she were a lover?
How would we help her reach her goals?
Would we gloat if she failed and say, ‘We knew you couldn’t do it’?
We need to ask ourselves: How would we treat South Africa if she happened to be our true love?
I am saddened that we strive to feed our obese egos instead of finding ways to improve debate. The more we focus on our fragile egos, the less we focus on how we can help improve the nation.
We have to look deep into ourselves. No one is innocent. Not COPE, not the ANC, or any of the other parties. Our hands aren’t clean. I am a sum of all who agree with me. Those who disagree with me build my character. They are the ones I have to thank for helping me think the way I do.
What will destroy this country is an army of uniformity when it comes to its thinkers. We will die a painful, intellectual death if people perpetuate a certain school of thought because they want to preserve jobs, or because they are too afraid that they might not be able to find employment because they might have expressed an opinion contrary to that of some powerful figure.
We have forgotten the principles on which the country was founded. Instead we spend our days fighting petty battles. We have become a nation of the petty and arrogant. We slice and dice one another. Our internal battles have become so intense that we are slowly forgetting that we are still trying to fight for our position in the global arena. We have become so inward-looking that we have forgotten that we are competing in a global field. Since president Thabo Mbeki left the scene, our global standing has shrunk at an incredible pace. To this day, AU still sends president Thabo Mbeki to the UN to represent it. Those outside our borders see his value. Jesus Christ was right, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.”
Our inward-looking extends to the economy we’re trying to grow. We make it virtually impossible for foreigners to work here. One of the reasons America became such a force to be reckoned with is because it embraced immigrants with open arms. Immigrants come with different ideas. According to Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, 25% off all high-tech businesses in the US and 50% of all venture-backed companies were started by immigrants.
Dubai is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies because it has no qualms about getting foreign skills. It knows that to be the best, one must get the best. In his book, Florida points out that economies that open up to diverse peoples, immigrants and the likes are much more likely to be innovative and grow because they embrace different ways of thinking.
I am not unmindful of the fact that some will call me idealistic in my thinking. That is the beauty of youth. I am not old enough to know my limits. The reason I have hope for this country is because there are many more young people than older people. We don’t see a reason why we should doubt and limit ourselves.
Please, you are welcome to disagree with me.
March 12, 2009 § 7 Comments
And I mean it. I think he is a pretty pleasant and probably funny guy too. I can’t help but imagine exchanging slaps on the back and doubling back in laughter as we have chats about whatever it is that young men talk about. As much as I take issue with some of the things he has said and what he stands for politically, that does not mean that I wouldn’t or shouldn’t get along with him personally.
There is no doubt that some people might take issue with what I just said. Particularly those who see Malema as a fumbling idiot who does not know when to shut up. That would be understandable considering some of the things I have written about him. As people, we tend to have no separation between the public figure and the fact that he is also an average guy who likes to have a drink and talk about girls. Those of us who are not public figures all have friends we disagree with on almost everything – but we don’t stop being friends simply because we disagree. We need to be able to separate the personality from their politics.
I imagine some of my friends would give me odd looks if I told them that I went go-carting with Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma (not that I have, don’t start spreading rumours now). “How could you hang out with them after all the things they have said?” Well, I would remind those people that in my friendship circles I have friends who are pastors and atheists, friends who are womanisers and friends who have had the same and only girlfriend for the past five years. In our dealings with the complexities of human engagement, we all have these contradictions in our friendship circles. Why then can we not have friends who hold differing political views without being enemies? But that does not mean we can’t be honest in our disagreements with them.
One’s political position does not define who they are; it defines what they stand for politically. We are not our politics. We are people before we have a political position.
Thabo Mbeki is probably not the easiest person in the world to get along with, but that does not mean that one should dislike his politics simply because one does not like him as a person. I imagine being a friend with him requires a lot of work, he must not see you as just a waste of his time if you are to be his friend. I also suspect that once he has brought you into his inner circle you would have great laughs, and probably an intellectually meaningful relationship.
We should not vote for people simply because we like them. Nor should we not vote for them because we don’t like their personalities. Competence, character and ability seem to run a distant second when people vote, which is most unfortunate. How else can we justify the fact that most voters don’t trust Zuma but somehow he still garners more votes according to opinion polls? I understand that someone is going to comment and say that it’s not him, it’s because of the party.
Like I said, I’d have a drink with Julius, I’d tease him about his political views because I know he is set in his ways. I don’t see him changing them. He would probably tease me about mine too. Much hilarity would ensue I imagine. Naturally I’d have more to laugh about. I’d talk about showers and fake accents amongst other things. I don’t know, maybe I’m just idealistic.
There are many people I agree with on almost every issue yet I cannot stand. Just as there are people who agree with me but just cannot stand me. Understandably, if I were someone else I wouldn’t stand myself either.
Just to make things clear, I’m not ANCist or anything, some of my best friends are in the ANC. I think I’m beginning to sound like a Malema, Bush and Zuma apologist. Having said what I have, I am still voting COPE and I hope you all do.
February 18, 2009 § 1 Comment
A friend (cyber friend might be more appropriate) of mine made an interesting comment on facebook about Tokyo Sexwale who accused COPE of using old people to get votes. I quote, “I thought Tokyo said they don’t use old people to win votes!”
A few days ago the ANC marched and paraded Nelson Mandela before a crowd, newspapers and television cameras crowing about his endorsement. Perhaps I should quote Tokyo’s criticism of Cope, “”Our mothers are taken, house to house, they are also paraded on TV, these people are performing witchcraft with our mothers… They are liars. You can’t have respect for people who use older people in that fashion.” Does this mean we shouldn’t have respect for the ANC for using an old man who couldn’t even read his own endorsement because he is so frail, weak and tired?
Madiba was well within his rights to endorse the ANC. There was nothing wrong or right with him endorsing the party of his choosing. He was excersing his right to do what he thought was right.
Of course when mamu Epainette Mbeki, the former president’s mother came out to endorse COPE, Tokyo said using old people to get votes was witchcraft. Naturally, he hasn’t called out Jacob Zuma or the ANC for that matter for using an old person to get votes. His silence as the self appointed defender of the elderly is of course not surprising.
Tokyo should not have higher standards for other parties than he has for his own. It is a sad day when we speak of our politicians and say, “What did you expect?” That is what many have come to expect of this once respected man. ANC members have whispered to me and called him an opportunist that can’t be trusted. They have said he will go with whatever side he believes will win. They no longer recognise the comrade they fought with in the 80’s and early 90’s. As his wealth has escalated, his character as a politician has diminished. No one doubts his business acumen, it is his political opportunism that leaves one wondering. Is this just a case of man gaining the world but losing his soul in process?
January 28, 2009 § 6 Comments
Imagine a scenario where former president Thabo Mbeki decides to announce his endorsement and intentions to vote for Cope but decides to remain a member of the ANC. I cannot imagine a situation that could rattle the feathers of some of the over inflated egos at Luthuli House more. Some of those egos are “too big, too wide, too strong, won’t fit they’re too much and they talk like this but they can’t even back it up.” “Quoting” Beyonce while discussing politics seems a tad out of place. Perhaps I should make a better analogy. Let me point to the most widely followed election in recent memory. The US elections.
(Just an aside here. I was commenting on someone’s status on Facebook about something they had said regarding the ANC. In my comment I quoted Dr Martin Luther King; someone then commented saying, “Trust Cope to quote Martin Luther King who, at the time, was speaking about equality during the 1960s. What relevance does Dr King have to our democracy,” as if there was something wrong with quoting people from other countries. I’m afraid if that person sees this blog post I will be taken to task for making references to America.)
Two weeks before the American general elections in 2008 a very well respected Republican sat before Tom Brokaw, the host of MSNBC’s much-respected Meet the Press TV programme. This particular Republican, according to opinion polls, had been the most respected American for years. In fact, had his wife not forbidden him from running in 2000, would most certainly have been the Republican nominee for president, meaning that he would have ended up president of the United States instead of George Walker (Dubya) Bush. He would have been America’s first black president.
This Republican gentleman and former National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State, General Colin Luther Powell endorsed Barack Obama, a member of the Democratic Party, for the presidency of the United States. During his endorsement he mentioned that he was and still is a member of the Republican Party but felt that Obama would make a better president than his fellow party man, John McCain. Although he endorsed an individual, it was essentially an endorsement of the Democratic Party’s platform.
General Powell made that endorsement fully aware of the impact it might have on the fence sitters. Here was an established, highly respected man going out of his way to make known his intentions of voting for a member of a different party to that of his own. Although he allowed himself to be used to bring falsified evidence before the United Nations, which led to the invasion of Iraq, perhaps the endorsement was a way of correcting that error.
He was not hounded out of the Republican Party after his announcement. Of course they were not happy with the endorsement. It was his right to express his preferences. Some tried to spin it by saying he was only endorsing Obama because he is black. Maybe it is time our country matured enough to allow people to express their preferences without fear or favour.
Unfortunately I don’t see Luthuli House viewing Mbeki’s endorsement of Cope as his democratic right. He would most likely be called a traitor at first. Then names and a host of animals that can be found in a zoo. The endorsement would then be ridiculed. They would say that he wants to rule from the grave. They would accuse him of bitterness. They would say that people aren’t going to switch from the ANC and vote for Cope simply because Mbeki decided to do so. The funny thing is they would spend an awful lot of time telling us how insignificant the endorsement was. They would also appear on every SABC station telling us how it would not make a dent in the ANC’s support base, which would make you how wonder: is it really inconsequential? Fikile Mbalula would say that he was right all along; Mbeki was behind Cope all along. Then Julius would call for him to be disciplined or call for his expulsion.
I had the rare opportunity of seeing Julius Malema and Fikile Mbalula at a wedding I too had the privilege of attending some time last year. While all the guests were having tea before the reception, they stood together and talked, like two lonely figures. No one really walked up to them, to talk to them. Then later at the reception the master of ceremonies made the following pronouncement, “I see Mr Malema is also here.” There was much laughter. Make of the laughter what you will. But I digress, as usual. Excuse the ADD.
Should senior members of the ANC who might be sympathetic to Cope publicly announce their intentions to vote for Cope even though they remain members of the ANC? Should they come out and say that they are doing so in order to strengthen democracy and not necessarily weaken the ANC? Will a stronger opposition not in fact strengthen them? Maybe not in terms of numbers, but in strengthening the democratic processes within the party?
Members of the ANC should have the freedom to endorse and to state their intentions of voting for Cope even though they are still senior members of the ANC without the fear of being suspended.
If the rumours are true that the ANC is busy denying – President Motlanthe’s intentions of refusing the position of deputy president should Zuma become president, then it is difficult not to view his discomfort of serving as deputy to Zuma as a vote of no confidence in his presidency.
If, in the next few weeks and months, people decide to go public and announce that they will vote Cope but will remain members of the ANC, then the ruling party should understand one thing — these people do not love the ANC any less. It’s just that they love their country more.