THE EROSION OF THE LEGITIMACY OF THE STATE
Over the past few years there have been countless developments that support the assertion that the legitimacy of the State is being eroded. Acts of civil disobedience or sustained acts of rebellion by citizens against the State, what the media euphemistically refer to as service delivery protests, have been on the rise.
Virtually every week we get media reports about trucks being set alight by citizens who are complaining about the employment of foreign drivers. In some areas, taxi operators attack bus drivers, accusing bus companies of undermining their businesses. In some parts of the country, criminals literally stop government developmental projects as they want to be given at least 30% stake in the development.
There has been a direct attack on the State. Police stations are attacked by armed gangs who rob police officers of guns and ammunition. In many parts of the country, ordinary citizens have lost faith in the police. When they have a problem with alleged criminals, they simply round them up, beat them to death or burn them alive.
Increasingly, the State appears to be losing legitimacy as ordinary citizens feel that they are on their own. The foundation that holds the country together appears to be caving in and the centre is not holding. Judging from the figures of the last election, the majority of people have even lost faith in the democratic system and have decided to stay away from the polls.
But what are the reasons behind the erosion of the legitimacy of the State? The reasons are many and varied. Below are some of the obvious cases that undermine public confidence in the State:
- Senior members of the ruling party who are caught with their fingers in the cookie-jar do not seem to be taken to task. In Limpopo there are two mayors who lost their positions after they were implicated in the looting of VBS. However, this week they were promoted to become MECs in Limpopo Provincial Government after they were to serve in the Provincial Executive Committee of the ruling party. The message is clear. The ruling party cares little about corruption.
- Another prominent leader of the ruling party who was forced to resign as Health Minister after he was implicated in a corruption scandal is now gunning to become the country’s number one citizen. We may be emotional and outraged but he is not the first leader of the ruling party to be elected to a top job decorated with corruption scandals. Jacob Zuma rose to the highest office in the land with his arms deal corruption baggage.
- Only this week, a Thohoyandou based prosecutor was found guilty of corruption after he solicited a R6000 bribe to make a case disappear. He is still to appear in court in January next year for trying to murder a witness in the bribery case by burning a house in which the witness had been sleeping.
Ordinary citizens can see that politicians just utter slogans about fighting corruption but in reality, nothing happens. In fact the corrupt are better placed to become even more powerful leaders as they are able to buy votes to secure their political ambitions.
And when a prosecutor sells a case, how can justice be upheld? These are some of the developments that are contributing to the erosion of the legitimacy of the State.
AZAPO believes that the people should use their power to determine their future. The most potent weapon that every citizen has is his or her vote. Instead of giving up and be despondent, people should vote the thieves out of power. It may sound too simplistic but it is that simple. We live in a democracy. There is no reason why we cannot remove the corrupt out of office.
BLACK SOLIDARITY DAY – OCTOBER 19, 1977
Next week Wednesday AZAPO commemorates the 45th anniversary of Black Solidarity Day, an important day in the Black calendar. It was on that fateful day on October 19, 1977, a few weeks after the brutal murder of our founding father Bantu Biko in police custody, that the apartheid regime declared a banning order on organisations of which 14 were aligned to Black Consciousness including two newspapers and a Christian Journal. This gave rise to the normative reference of 19 BC organisations that were banned on October 19, 1977. Those banned included the Black People’s Convention (BPC) and the South African Students Organisation (SASO). These BC organisations reflected representation of different sectors of our country under the banner of Black Consciousness and epitomised the unity of Black people in their effort to advance the course of our struggle. It was an attempt to deliver a fatal blow to our collective quest for liberation. Journalists were detained without trial.
Some may ask: why should we commemorate Black Solidarity Day?
This is not just about history. It is a struggle against forgetting. There are many people in our country who have little knowledge about the contribution of the Black Consciousness Movement in the struggle for liberation. This is why when we urge people to vote the ruling party out of power, there is a common refrain: If we do not vote for the ruling party, who will we vote for?
There is a dominant fallacy that projects the ruling party as the only organisation that played a role in our liberation struggle. It is this sustained lie that gives some amongst the leaders of the ruling party a sense of entitlement to abuse our people. They seem to operate from the misdirected basis that they “liberated” us, and therefore they have a licence to do as they like.
The truth is different. It was our Movement, the BCM, that ignited the spark that started the revolution that led to the political transition in 1994.
The older components of the liberation movement, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the African National Congress (ANC) went underground after their banning following the Sharpeville massacre in March 1960. After the Rivonia trial that saw the incarceration of Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Nelson Mandela and their comrades, there was a political lull. This was ended by the emergence of SASO in 1968. The mobilisation of students by Biko and other BC adherents such as Mosibudi Mangena and Ranwedzi Nengwekhulu was a major catalyst for the Soweto Student Uprisings in June 1976. Following June 16, thousands of young people left the country to swell the ranks of the PAC and the ANC. Later the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania (BCMA) was formed in 1980.
AZAPO, the flag-bearer and custodian of BC, was formed in 1978 as a continuum to the Black People’s Convention (BPC) and a response to the banning of the BC organisations in 1977. AZAPO has been in the trenches for decades. AZAPO should not be placed in the same category of the post-1990 parties that were formed to exploit the dividend of democracy.
PUBLIC SERVANTS STRIKE
At the time of going to press, public sector unions were considering going on strike to push for pay rise. In all fairness, given that public servants have not been getting an increase for the past three years, it is understandable why they are demanding salary adjustments. After all, all they want is to ensure that inflation does not erode their earnings.
The government has been failing the workers. Government leaders have been consistent in their message that people should not expect a salary increase as the economy has been ravaged by Covid-19 and lately by the war in Ukraine.
Government leaders argue that public servants should be grateful that they were not retrenched while millions of workers in the private sector lost their jobs.
The ruling elite tells us that inflation has risen above the targeted range of between 3 to 6% to just over7.5%. And for that, we should be punished by an increase of the repo rate. This is despite the fact that the rising inflation has nothing to do with domestic factors but everything to do with imported inflation largely because of the high price of fuel and other imports because of the war in Europe.
With the rising interest rates, workers have to pay more on their home loans, car repayments and their credit cards.
But that is not all. The same ruling elite that tells us that inflation should be kept below 6% are the very people behind the increase of electricity, water and municipal rates by an average of 15%.
When workers realise that their earnings are shrinking, they are within their rights to withdraw their labour to force the employer to improve their earnings.
However, what complicates issues is that in the public sector, the employer – who are politicians, do not suffer as a result of the withdrawal of labour by the workers.
When they are sick, politicians go to private hospitals for their health needs. Their children are in private schools or former white schools where teachers do not go on strike. For their security, they rely not on Bheki Cele’s South African Police Service officers but on private security.
So when the workers go on strike, it is them who suffer and not the employer. Not only do they lose their earnings, they also lose public services such as health care and education that they so desperately need.
GERMAN TOURIST’S LIFE IS MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
If the South African law enforcement authorities responded to the murders of Black people with the same urgency as they do to a European tourist, this country would have one of the lowest murder rates in the world.
When the news broke that a German tourist was murdered in Mpumalanga in an attempted carjacking, the police minister rushed to the scene the following day. And within a couple of days, three suspects were detained in connection with the murder.
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was even able to account for all the tourists who have lost their lives in South Africa since the ANC took office in 1994. In fact, there are only three tourists who have lost their lives in South Africa since 1994. The first died in a freak accident in Table Mountain. The second was killed by her fiancée in a widely publicised murder thriller. In fact, it is only the German tourist who is a victim of a random crime. Impressive, right? No. We should be ashamed of ourselves. Why have we accepted that about 20 000 people are murdered in South Africa every year? They are just stats. The figures are released every three months and we continue with our lives as though nothing happened.
It appears the police have capacity to prevent violent crime. When international tourists descended on our shores for the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the country was safe. We had grand plans to ensure that our international guests are safe. And they were.
But once they left, we returned to the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest.
Our political leaders lack self-pride. They lack Black Consciousness. They display a deep level of colonial mentality. How sad!
IN MEMORIAM: CDE KHOLOFELO ‘KHOLO’ MASHABELA
It is with a deep sense of sorrow that we announce the death of AZAPO stalwart and founding member of AZASM Cde Kholofelo Mashabela.
Mashabela, a prolific writer and an intellectual giant, died in hospital in Polokwane on Wednesday.
May his soul rest in peace.
AZAPO GAUTENG PROVINCIAL CONGRESS
AZAPO Gauteng will be going to its Provincial Congress on 15 October 2022 at Dr W F Nkomo High School in Atteridgeville, Tshwane. AZAPO Voice wishes them fruitful deliberations as they renew their mandate for a #relionisedAZAPO.