Considering the public excitement about the announcement by the Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana that effectively scrapped the e-toll system, it is tempting to shower the minister and the government with praises. But any accolades to the government on this issue would be irresponsible, reckless and misplaced.
The decision to impose e-tolls on Gauteng roads was effectively the State conducting an act of pickpocketing on motorists. The process was plain wrong and immoral. It lacked political justification and that is the reason e-tolls were hugely unpopular in the province and in the country in general.
There are a few lessons to be learnt from the e-tolls saga. The first is that the State should desist from taking poorly researched decisions that are extremely unpopular with the general population. Apart from just making any decision legal, a government that claims to represent the will of the people should make an honest attempt to take decisions that are not just within the law but that enjoy legitimacy. In other words, the general public should have a sense that the government cares for them and that the decision is not designed to impose unfair punishment on them.
When the government rides roughshod on the population and threatens to use the law to whip citizens into line, the results can be popular revolt. Just as Mangaliso Sobukwe, leader of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, called on all Afrikan men to surrender themselves to the nearest police station to be arrested for failing to carry their dompasses, the law could not effectively respond to an action taken by an overwhelming majority. The law is designed to target the few and recalcitrant among the population and not the majority.
The second lesson is that members of the ruling party who are opposed to certain decisions should be bold enough to raise their objections within the party so that they can secure a different outcome. When members of the ruling party go public against a decision taken by their party, they lose credibility. They appear as if they are playing to the public gallery. This point is even more pronounced in Gauteng where the ruling party’s status as the majority party is under tremendous threat. So, even when the ruling party takes a decision that is in line with what the expectations of the public are, it does not get the political benefit because the decision is seen as forced by the voters as opposed to initiatives conceived by the government.
The third lesson is that people should always remember that real power rests with them. The government or any authority can only do what the people allow the system to do. As our founding father Steve Bantu Biko advised us, people should not see themselves as victims but rather as authors of their destiny.
When we shout: Amandla ngawethu, this is not just a slogan. People indeed wield power!
WE NEED MORE THAN JUST MORE POLICE OFFICERS
In his Medium-Term Budget Speech, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that an additional 15 000 police constables would be recruited in the next three years. This is in addition to another 10 000 recruits who have been taken into the force from the past financial year.
On the face of it, the announcement should spell good news to many citizens who are victims of violent crimes, including rape and murder. But a closer look at the crime situation in the country reveals that employing more police officers will not be enough to address the issue.
One of the factors contributing to the high rate of crime is lack of proper training on the part of police investigators. Poor police investigation results in many criminals walking scot-free. Just last week, cases of rape were dropped against a group of men who had been arrested for the gang-rape of women who were shooting a music video in the West Rand. The group had their rape charges dropped after DNA tests could not link them to the crime.
If police could bungle such a prominent case that made national headlines on various media platforms, attracting the attention of the Minister of Police Bheki Cele, what about ordinary criminal cases that do not enjoy media exposure? The prosecutors can only secure a successful prosecution on the strength of a well investigated case by the police. So, employing more police officers without ensuring their proper training may not achieve the desired results of reducing the rate of crime.
The other issue contributing to the high rate of crime is corruption within the police force. There are police officers who work with criminals to steal dockets. In other more serious cases, some police officers work with criminal syndicates to steal cars that are taken out of the country. The country’s intelligence services should be activated to expose the rotten elements within the police force and spend less time fighting internal battles of the ruling party.
Then there is a culture of violence in the country. According to the police, the majority of rapes in the country occur in the home of either the assailant or the victim. This means that the attacker and the victim are in some kind of a relationship of knowing each other. There can never be enough numbers of police officers to prevent violence between people who live together. Police can never be in people’s bedroom to ensure that one partner does not inflict harm on the other.
While police should do their duties, individuals should also do the right thing. AZAPO has a program called “I am the solution”. The essence of the program is that each and every citizen can and should play a role in the resolution of various problems faced by society. In the fight against crime, for instance, citizens can use their power to expose corruption. They can also be part of the members of the community who help provide information, about drug dealings and other illegal activities, to the police.
If ordinary members of society, in line with the vision of “I am the solution”, can be active agents in the fight against crime, the country can become a much safer place without necessarily employing more police officers.
Finally, Britain has its first non-Caucasian Prime Minister. Rishi Sunak, a British citizen of Indian origin has been elected to succeed Liz Truss who served only six weeks as the country’s Prime Minister.
As expected, Sunak’s relocation to Number 10 Downing Street has angered some English people who cannot process the idea of being led by a non-Caucasian. They accept that Sunak is a full British citizen with all the rights. But he is not of the right colour to lead Britain, they contend.
These fears are unfounded. The reality is that if Sunak really threatened the British system of colonialism and imperialism, he would not have risen to the position he now holds. The system would not have allowed him.
Sunak may be non-Caucasian, but he is a product of the British system and there is no reason why those who support the system should fear that he would threaten a system that brought him to power.
Just as a point of illustration, there was a lot of expectation by many Afrikans when Barack Obama, who is Black and had a Kenyan father, became president of the United States of America in 2009. Many people believed that because of his Afrikan roots, he would push a foreign policy that promoted the interests of the Afrikan continent. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It was during Obama’s presidency that the US led a military campaign that led to the violent removal from power and ultimately the brutal murder of the popular Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. It had now been established that the reason Gaddafi was removed from power had nothing to do with the promotion of democracy in Libya but had everything to do with securing American interests. Gaddafi’s cardinal sin was his radical suggestion that oil should no longer be sold through the US dollar but should rather be traded with gold.
Obama may have Afrikan roots, but when he was in the oval office in the White House, he was the president of the United States. He had one primary agenda and that was to advance the interests of the United States. There was no other way. The system is far more powerful than the individual. If one is a driver of a train that moves on a rail-track designed to take the train from Makhado to Musina, the driver can wish to divert the train to Thohoyandou but if there is no rail-track system towards Thohoyandou, the driver’s wishes will remain just that, wishes.
This is why in the definition of Black Consciousness, Steve Bantu Biko was clear when he says: “The fact that we are not all white does not mean that we are all Black.” He then spoke of non-whites as those people who have black skins but their mental attitude reflects white aspiration.
Sunak may be non-white, but the Black world should not expect him to serve the interests of black Afrika at the expense of the British interests, which he has sworn to serve.
AZAPO LOSES A DEDICATED CADRE IN CDE NTONTELA
This past Sunday, the nation woke up to the sad and shocking news that Cde Funani Ntontela breathed his last at about 05h00.
Cde Ntontela was born on 29 September 1975 in Khutsong, Carletonville, to Ms Bangiwe Sangxu and Zamile Ntontela. He joined AZAPO through its student wing AZASM, while he was a student at Tswasong High School in the early 1990s.
He enrolled for a Nursing Diploma at the Lilitha Nursing College. It was at Rhodes University, where he studied for a BSc in Biological Sciences that he demonstrated he does not need numbers to raise the AZAPO flag and spread the Black Word. He worked almost single-handedly to establish an AZASCO Branch there. That Branch was able to motivate the Makhanda AZAPO Branch into more vibrancy, but Cde Ntontela knew that Black students have to link up with the struggles of the Black community.
He started practicing as a professional nurse in the early 2000s. He worked in a number of health centres around the Eastern Cape. However, it was in Alwal North where he settled down and once again demonstrated that being a pioneer was in his blood. He organised the local people and formed an AZAPO Branch. Even though the Branch was less than a year in existence, they moved with pride and contested the Local Government Elections.
After his productive political work in Alwal North, he left the nursing field and started working in various NGOs where he advised municipalities on health and development matters. The last NGO he worked for was the Africa Health Partners, whose mission was the placement of doctors in the local and rural areas. By this time, he had furthered his education by completing an Honour’s in Development Studies at the Stellenbosch University, and a Master’s in Business Administration.
Having armed himself at an educational level, he joined the Department of Health as the CEO of a hospital in Engcobo in the former Transkei. He worked there for 3 years before he left to pursue his spiritual calling.
In AZAPO, he distinguished himself as a communication specialist. He was a proficient writer, and an eloquent speaker. He served in the AZAPO PEC of the Eastern Cape as the Secretary for Publicity and Information in several terms. When the SABC TV sidelined AZAPO in one elections broadcast in Gqeberha, the Towers disrupted that programme and demanded that AZAPO be included. Anchor Tim Modise had to make a plan to accommodate the organisation. It was the IEC CEO, Dr Brigalia Bam, who angered Cde Ntontela by insulting AZAPO in the public space. Cde Ntontela spearheaded the campaign to put pressure on Dr Bam to write a letter of apology to AZAPO.
In 2014, Cde Ntontela was elected into the national office of AZAPO as the Secretary for Publicity and Information under the leadership of President Itumeleng Mosala. He defied the odds and put AZAPO on the map when it came to public discourse. He would hop from one radio station to another making informed contributions on topical issues.
Long Live the Spirit of Cde Ntontela!
AZAPO REMEMBERS CDE HLAKO RACHIDI
AZAPO will memorialise one of their own, Cde Hlako Kenneth Rachidi—the late President of the Black Peoples’ Convention (BPC), who transitioned to the world of ancestors on Sunday, 23 October 2022. The memorial service will be held at 12h00 on Sunday 6 November 2022 at Orlando Communal Hall, Orlando East, Soweto.