WOULD NELSON MANDELA BE HAPPY WITH SOUTH AFRICA TODAY?
As expected on Saturday we saw millions of people, not only in South Africa but also all over the world, going out to perform various acts of kindness with a generosity of spirit and material gifts as their tribute to this iconic South African. Many communities and people benefited from this generosity, people with no food were nourished, people in the cold received blankets, lonely people received a visitor for company, dilapidated buildings were renovated and many more innovative and creative activities were undertaken.
Of course, politicians from across the political spectrum were out in force to demonstrate their commitment to and support of those ideals and practices that came naturally to the great man. Each one out to prove their commitment to his legacy and earn your support.
All these acts freely given have in some small way helped to make the world a better place in which to live. Naturally Madiba would have approved of this generosity done in his name.
But I wonder how he would feel about South Africa today, I find it difficult to believe that he would be pleased to see his “Rainbow Nation” being jeopardised by senseless acts of racism. Surely he would not approve of a State President making a speech in which he distorts history and says “Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival in Cape Town was the beginning of all South Africa’s problems.” or when speaking in Nigeria he commented that “Africans lived in peace with each other and had fun, but then came the others” or of allowing his invited guest, Robert Mugabe to say that “I don’t want to see a white face!”
Of course he would be equally repulsed at university students making a domestic worker drink urine or of students sexually assaulting another student with a broom or any act that humiliates people because of the colour of their skin.
It is hard to imagine that Mandela would have approved of people who desecrate the statues of former leaders such as Louis Botha, Paul Kruger and Mahatma Gandhi and people retaliating by doing the same to those of Freedom Fighters.
Having been a lawyer and therefore an officer of the court Nelson Mandela would certainly not have countenanced government ignoring an order of the court as the present government did during the recent AU conference when the North Gauteng High Court instructed that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir should not leave the country. Not only did the government ignore the order but they were complicit in his hasty departure
Compare this to Mandela’s attitude when as President, Louis Luyt summonsed him to court; he did not protest that the president should be above the law, he merely attended the court proceedings and gave evidence. We now have a cabinet minister saying in parliament that “… this government will never prosecute a sitting president” a view that is shared by the AU. In other words any president is above the law and can kill any numbers of people with no fear of prosecution. All he needs to do at the end of his term of office is refuse to hand over power and he will be allowed to carry on and murder whoever he likes because ‘no sitting president will ever be prosecuted’.
By the same token one cannot imagine that President Mandela would have approved of the attacks that the ANC and its alliance partners have been making on the South African Judiciary. Nelson Mandela believed that the sustenance of the democratic project “hinges upon” the judicial branch, at whose pinnacle stands the Constitutional Court.
The vilification of the courts strangely surfaces when the government or the governing party loses court battles. Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande recently accused judges “of undoing our constitutional democracy through judicial over-reach that undermines the principles of majority rule and the separation of powers.” Another cabinet minister said “judges conspiring with people to make some strange decisions”. Public criticism against the judiciary also came from African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, who accused the courts of bias over the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir’s case.
Of course when decisions go their way such as Jacob Zuma being found not guilty then the independence of our judiciary is hailed. The simple rule that the government has failed to learn is that if you follow the constitution and do not break the law you will not lose court cases. Elementary.
Given Madiba’s commitment to a free press it is difficult to believe that he would approve of the assault on the freedom of the press, that rather than accepting the self regulation of the media by an ombudsman, government is threatening to appoint a tribunal to regulate the press. Obviously it will have a good cadre deployed to chair the tribunal and several other deployed cadres as members. Naturally all these comrades will receive huge salaries paid by the taxpayer to ensure that the ANC and its alliance partners are never attacked or their corruption published.
It has now been reported that government are to punish the media by no longer publishing advertisements in the media. In future advertising for jobs will be in the free government newspaper Vuk’uzenzele a state publication that is distributed free of charge. Having tried in vane to find one person who has even seen a copy of Vuk’uzenzele to no avail government jobs will be advertised in the publication. Then government wonder why the only people that they are able to employ have fake qualifications.
Furthermore, this week it was noted that government intends to establish its own TV station to broadcast the government’s good story. This is obviously because the existing media, including his majesties voice – the SABC cannot be trusted not to reveal corruption or the lack of service delivery. Once again at the taxpayer’s expense. We rather have to pay for ANC propaganda than delivering services to the community.
Faith Muthambi the Minister of Communications obviously believes that she is the Minister of Propaganda. Little does she realise that the less the media rely on the state for revenue the more objective they will be to reveal corruption and maladministration.
When one considers the passion that Mandela always displayed for young people and about education it is impossible to believe that he would have approved of the current state of education in our country. The fact that only fifty percent of the children who enter grade 1 eventually matriculate and in many cases these matriculants are unemployable because of their low levels of literacy or numeracy is a disgrace.
Of course no comparison of Nelson Mandela and the current South Africa would be complete without a comment on Nkandla. Considering that on his retirement the security upgrades to both his homes cost R20 million. It is therefore unimaginable to believe that he would have countenanced the R246 million spent on Nkandla.
While certainly encouraging all the acts of kindness that were and continue to be done in Mandela’s name we as South Africans have an even greater responsibility. We have to ensure that South Africa becomes the rainbow nation that Nelson Mandela envisaged.
Last week I pleaded for more tolerance. Yes, more tolerance for human frailties and failures. That does not mean that we have to tolerate incompetence or inefficiency or even worse corruption and criminality. We must make a stand against these abuses of power and the best way to do that is through your vote.
You therefore have a responsibility to vote. Make sure that you, your family, friends and neighbours are all registered at your current address. Who you vote for is your choice however, every vote against the current government is a vote against corruption and maladministration. The more votes against the government the more likely they are to change.
Do this not only for yourself but also for Nelson Mandela.
Until next time,
This newsletter is published by Clive Hatch former Leader of the Opposition in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and former DA Provincial Leader. These views are my personal views and do not represent those of any other person or organisation.
E-Mail: email@example.com Web: www.clivehatch.co.za