Why I ceased my allegiance to the ANC and why some of my friends are too embarrassed to cease theirs
The ANC is showing us the example of its power - not the power of its example!
Political allegiance can be a rather tenuous thing.
In many ways, it reflects character and a body of thinking that can defy common logic, even if it glares one in the face.
When the majority of South Africans were in the throes of what was termed the "struggle", we enjoined each other in common purpose - to remove a heinous and despicable form of governance that deprived the country of equality, fairness and justice.
Apartheid could never have been justified no matter how hard we tried.
I ceded my allegiance from the ANC in 1999 - only because the writing was on the wall as the 'Mandela honeymoon" was about to end.
The battle for succession of the leader of the country was in progress - and I do believe that Cyril Ramaphosa, at the time, might have been the chosen one to succeed Mandela, noting that he was the chief protagonist and commander of negotiations, together with Roelf Meyer, as they were the emissaries of the ANC and the National Party respectively at Codesa 2, striving for a political settlement.
That Thabo Mbeki succeeded Mandela is now history.
Many of my friends were surprised, if not shocked at this turnaround of my political dalliance - but I believe I saw the writing on the wall even back then.
Ideologically, the ANC could do no wrong as proponents of a free and democratic South Africa pre-1994.
The Freedom Charter was invoked at every and all opportunity to enamour and invigorate the "people" into mass action and defy the Nationalist government - entrenching the purpose of an equal society.
"An injury to one is an injury to all" we chanted at rallies and mass meetings -"there shall be houses, security and comfort" we chanted as we lambasted the thugs and rogues of a free and democratic society.
"Senzeni Na" (What have we done) we chanted as we begged the world to help our plight to overcome apartheid.
The philosophical world and the real world, as we have come to learn, is a very dichotomous one - talking the talk and not walking it is what the ANC have become.
Eighteen of my university friends and I had a reunion recently - where the state of the nation was the primetime topic and it largely centred around what we fought for and what we gained as a country.
Obviously, the biggest prize was human freedom, which is a universal right - but not the equality we so wished for, as I painfully reminded everyone present.
Just to be clear, this gathering was primarily made up of the so-called "Indian" and "coloured" component of our racially classified society - as we were students of the University of the Western-Cape (UWC) - at the time a university designed mainly for "coloured" students, and like many universities that had largely students of colour, was dubbed a "bush college" albeit also referred to as the "university of the intellectual left".
Interestingly, a fair number shared the same thoughts - that the South Africa all freedom-loving citizens fought for was destined for damnation.
It was acknowledged that the fight was necessary and that the will of the people should be the prevalent voice in determining governance.
We all rallied around the ANC, UDF (United Democratic Front), SANSCO (South African National Student's Congress) and the like, only to fight for what was right -.and fair.
However, a few of my friends really irked me in their response to the current situation as it exists.
They acknowledged and accepted that the ideological franchise of the ANC that once was, is no more.
That the leadership we revered and believed in, is long gone - that freedom now means high boundary walls, job reservation, and economic decline - and of course, a reversal of colour in discriminatory practices, in the guise of democracy.
They so-called 'stalwarts' of the movement even had the audacity to say that despite them seeing the impending collapse of our beloved country, that they still supported the ANC simply as past loyalty.
These educated men and women, whose very children and grandchildren will soon be subjected to policies that are quite anathema to what they fought for, are still prepared to support an organization that cares less about whether they contributed to the freedom of this country or not.
However, I subsequently learnt that some of them did business with the state, and that said it all.
They were either scared or shameless enough not to admit that they were no longer those conscience-bearing "freedom fighters", but rather have succumbed to the mediocrity of wealth generation, even if it meant selling their soul and morals and remaining silent - only so that they could gain monetary benefits.
I was disappointed.
But this, as I have discovered, is quite evident with many who once were so-called struggle stalwarts - they see the rot but are not prepared to openly condemn it or take a stand against the corruption and perversion of our democracy, only so as to save face and portray a false allegiance to a movement that is destroying the very people it once purported to serve and protect - and the country of course.
It is true that when you run with the hares and hunt with the hounds, sooner rather than later, you will be outed - politically speaking, and that is the travesty of our times.
What the current crop of ANC 'leaders" are showing is very much the example of their power - and not the power of their example - and the tragedy continues!
The 2024 National and Provincial elections g will be a watershed election, never seen before in South Africa in terms of how balloting (voting) will occur.
It will be a first and something new for voters.
As a means of helping voters understand what is in store for them at polling stations, please read below:
WHAT ARE YOU VOTING FOR IN THE NATIONAL AND PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS
1. NATIONAL VOTE:
You are voting for a political party to represent you in the National Assembly (in parliament, where laws are enacted)
2. REGIONAL VOTE
You are voting for a political party or an independent candidate to represent you in the National Assembly.
3. PROVINCIAL VOTE
You are voting for a political party or an independent candidate to represent you in the Provincial Legislatures ( i. e. In the province that you reside in)
For the very first time a voter will be provided with 3 ballot papers (voting sheets), provided they are voting at the voting station or province where they are registered
These are as follows'
1. National Ballot
* The National ballot contains the names of the political parties contesting for the National Assembly elections and it will be the same at all voting stations throughout the country.
* This is to vote for a political party to represent you in the National Assembly.
2. Regional Ballot
* The Regional ballot for the National Assembly includes parties and independents.
* It is the ballot to be used in each region to vote for a political or an independent candidate standing in that region for election to the National Assembly.
* The ballot will be region-specific in a manner similar to Provincial Legislatures ballots.
PROVINCIAL (1 ballot)
* The Provincial ballot contains the names of political parties and independent candidates specific to a particular province.
* To vote for a political party party or an independent candidate standing for elections in that province to represent you in the Provincial Legislatures.
* Each province will have its own unique Provincial ballot.
Please note the difference between the National Assembly and a Provincial Legislature
* makes and carries out laws and policies for the whole country.
* Parliament is led by the Speaker and the National Executive is led by the President and Cabinet Ministers
* makes and carries out laws and policies that affect a province only
* Provincial Legislatures are led by Speakers and a Provincial Executive is led by the Premier and members of Executive Councils
(This is not meant in any racial intonation except to champion South Africa as a land that must embrace its diversity against those who desperately desire to entrench it)
When scantily clad, impoverished and waif-like citizens of the world across the big pond embarked on their tortuous journey to these shores over a hundred and fifty years ago, they left in the great hope of opportunity, of safety and security, and of unbridled dreams.
They got very little of that, if any.
Indeed, what they really got was bondage and slavery, suffering and heartache, torture and pain.
There was no land of the milk and the honey that awaited them - but instead of that being a deterrent, it became a spur and a root of survival.
While the spirits may have been low and the heads drooped - their strength of resolve and determination never faltered.
Looked at as sub-human, treated as non-entities and classified as such, their resilience against every odd drove their abiding spirit to heights beyond imagination.
And so it was that the "Indian" citizen of South Africa cemented his citizenry in a wilful pledge to humanity that he was here to stay.
Being relegated to second-class citizens as with millions of others, the Indian citizen became part of a colourful tapestry of people that endured the worst of the worst from men and women who prided themselves in superiority, bigotry and grandeur - but who were no different in human terms.
Yet, as we hurtle into a world far, far different from that of yesteryear, how much has changed?
What was meant to be freedom and opportunity has become an unwritten bondage and subservience to the very men and women who cajoled the Indian citizen into believing that "this land is your land, this land is my land".
Rights bestowed upon every citizen of this land has become tainted with privilege for some - yet again.
As a community of people classified in terms of race - still, the Indian citizen is considered an interloper by some - still.
A facade or masquerade of an equal society has become an embellishment today that defiles common humanity and brotherhood, only because the success of the Indian citizen is seen as a contemptuous usurping of the rights and privileges of fellow citizens.
The Indian citizen, once imported as a commodity, is now being readied for export as an inconvenience.
This is the tragedy of South Africa today - where human harmony has transcended into human division - where patriotism is no longer a common bond - where race matters!
While the country degenerates at break-neck speed, we should all remember, every single one of us - that we are all equal citizens of a once unequal land and that we share a citizenry without prejudice and without favour.
The clarion call is simple as it is loud - the Indian citizen of South Africa is a citizen like every other, seeking the same purpose as everyone else and cannot - must not - and should not be treated otherwise.
South Africa, in a new democratic order, is a bespoken land for all of us - Indian and all.a
As an invited guest to a delightful function held by the 1860 Indentured Labourer's Foundation - Verulam, held to unveil a monument and plaque at the entrance of the town of Verulam, in commemoration of the indenture of the Indian settler, I must pay compliments to the organizers.
Under the stewardship of Mr. Anand Jayrajh and his formidable team, the event was marked with great organization and planning.
However, as I learnt during the event, officials from eThekwini municipality who were invited to attend as guests did not show up, nor hand in apologies. This was both disturbing, and in my candid opinion, disrespectful.
The Indian community who migrated onto these shores in search of a better life than the penury and deprivation experienced in their motherland of India, despite despicable and draconian conditions foisted down upon them, survived what could only be described as a pipedream-turned-nightmare.
But significantly, their lot in life was not only a spur to improve themselves and their families lives but also to become productive citizens of South Africa - which they accomplished admirably.
At a time in our history when race relations are very tenuous and where untoward aspersions are being cast against the Indian community, it would have been fair game for the municipality to have shown their resolve at strengthening social cohesion and engendering a spirit of patriotism by, at the very least, attending this event to show both solidarity and appreciation of the contribution of the indentured labourers to South Africa. While credit does go to the municipality for offering the land upon which the monument was erected, it would have been a "nice story to tell" had they made their presence felt, if only to show unanimity and mutual support for an event, that at one time in our history, provided the backbone for economic sustainability of the city.
A ceremonial key-handing ceremony was on the programme whereby the key to the monument was to be handed over to the municipality as it was on municipal land that the monument was built. This red-letter aspect had to be unfortunately cancelled. It is be hoped that in future, when events of such a nature are held, that the city fathers make an effort, like they do with other events, to at least pay homage and acknowledgement to the very people who are now bona fide citizens, not only of the city, but of South Africa as their country of birth.
We must bend the arc of history toward building South Africa at every opportunity - in every community.
2024 will be a watershed year in our electoral process.
I would go as far as stating that the majority of people who voted in the last election would have done so for many reasons, some with valid reasons, others with reasons less cogent.
Some may have voted just for the sake of voting, some because of past loyalties, some on a racial, ethnic or religious basis, some to create what is termed a "strong opposition" and some to ensure the "other" party does not win.
Whatever the reasons, I will dare say that many did not know who they were voting for, except for the name of the political party, without knowing who exactly will represent them at national and provincial government.
Many are influenced by the hype at vote harvesting season, but if one has to ask a voter who will be the parliamentarian that represents him in his constituency, one will not know - and political parties rarely send out parliamentarians into constituencies to address the people at ground level - except of course, to drum up support in a by-election or election.
South African politics has degenerated since the advent of a new democratic order.
The 2024 elections will be a watershed year in South Africa.
For the very first-time independent candidates will be allowed to contest the elections.
Coalitions, which have become a new order, will assume a major role in determining governance and smaller political parties, unlike before, will play critical roles, if not kingmaker roles in provincial legislatures and the National Assembly.
The DA's John Steenhuisen has proposed a "Moonshot Pact" - whereby smaller parties coalesce in an attempt to remove the power of the ANC and the EFF.
It is a fact that the ANC has failed the nation - repeatedly - and there is a growing tide to relegate the party to a has-been.
Coalitions, by nature, are not the most stable form of governance - such fragility of coalitions has already been witnessed in South Africa - Johannesburg and Tshwane are glaring examples.
They are predicated primarily on the notion of "unseating" the ruling party and the transferance of power, and many coalitions are negotiated on the aspect of positions - "who gets what for their support" - and very rarely on policies or what the party actually stands for.
Most political parties, in their manifestos - which the lay person does not bat an eyelid to - want about the same thing - more employment, less crime, better health and educational systems etc., but these are rarely negotiated during coalition talks.
The DA, being the official opposition currently, and wishin to be in governance, may want to call the shots, as it often happens in coalitions, but as alluded to earlier, the relevance and role of smaller parties, now more than ever, will assume enormous proportions - only because the DA wants to unseat the ruling party.
In the process, principles are diluted, diminished and disregarded when the alluring prospect of, say, a cabinet post, is in the offing.
Simply to get a coalition on the basis of dethroning the ruling party, arguably, will have repercussions in the long term - if the electorate become a secondary issue.
Each party goes out on a limb to convince the electorate of their intentions to serve all the people - but do they actually do that?
Will Steenhuisen and the DA allow a party, with one or two seats say, and who form the "Moonstar Pact", be allowed to hold a cabinet position for example?
Unless policies are negotiated, with a clear-cut plan of action, coalitions, at some point, are bound to fail - and we may end up having a hung parliament or a provincial legislature, and this could have serious consequences for the country.
Will the DA allow every party in a coalition to have an equal say in determining the make- up of a government should there be a transition of power?
it is almost illative that that would not happen - so while the common goal of the coalition partners might be one, the "Big Brother" aspect will certainly come into play and such a deal may well become a pig in a poke.
One must bear in mind, that in the run-up to the elections, each political party will be an opposition to the next - even enemies - trying to demonise each other - for the sake of votes, so it would become a case of "beware the Greeks bearing gifts" when all is said and done and when the hard graft of governance begins.
If there are no checks-and-balances guaranteed to oversee coalitions, with clear rules and guidelines established and agreed upon, negotiated on policies principally, and where the "majority" partner does not control the roost, then coalitions are bound to fail sooner rather than later.
The ANC, for example, have built a ring of fire around President Cyril Ramaphosa, to prevent him from answering critical questions thereby creating a kind of immunity from censure and action - could this happen in a coalition when a majority partner is threatened?
These are important considerations for every voter to note come 2024 and when the crucial time at the ballot box arrives, one must be confident that the leaders they vote into position, must have their and only their interests at heart - else we will have another five years of mayhem, chaos - and even further degeneration down the deepening abyss.
Coaltions might be the lesser of two evils - but we must be acutely aware of the consequences should they fail if insufficient guardrails are not put into place.