NO REASON TO CELEBRATE THE DAY OF BETRAYAL
This Thursday marks the 29th anniversary of the dawn of democracy. Note that we make an effort to resist the temptation of referring to April 27 as Freedom Day because we are of the view that our struggle for liberation was aborted at World Trade Centre in Kempton Park in the run-up to the 1994 first all-race elections.
For the record, AZAPO is the only component of the liberation movement that refused participation in the CODESA talks that were to usher in a new political dispensation. AZAPO also boycotted the 1994 elections and urged the people of South Africa not to participate in those elections because they would essentially be giving legitimacy to a process designed to abort our struggle for liberation and to legalise land dispossession in the hands of the white tribe.
AZAPO’s plea for the people to boycott the elections was not heeded. Just like the Biblical Noah, the masses of the people largely ignored the call by AZAPO. It was also a difficult message for a lot of people. For decades, the liberation movement had been fighting for a system that would be based on one person one vote, in a common voters’ roll. For decades the liberation movement had been campaigning against the banning of political organisations, and for the release of political prisoners and the return of exiles into the country without any conditions.
FW de Klerk met some of these conditions and started a process of negotiations for a new political order in the country. The buzzword was democracy. So, when the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania joined the negotiation table, the process looked legitimate. The process appeared genuine. At the table, there were struggle heroes such as Nelson Mandela who had been in prison for 27 years.
AZAPO was seen as party-spoilers. But AZAPO was just merely articulating a position that was informed by facts on the ground. AZAPO’s argument was that the CODESA talks were just a façade. Real talks had already been concluded behind bars. The CODESA process was merely to rubberstamp the secret deals that had been entered into by the apartheid regime and some in the liberation movement.
AZAPO argued that the negotiations were not about the transfer of land, wealth and the control of the economy from white hands to the Black majority. The negotiations were about the removal of apartheid from the statute books and giving all South Africans a right to vote. The negotiations were designed to produce a constitution that will protect private ownership of property that had been acquired through apartheid laws. In other words, the deal was that white people would retain all their ill-gotten wealth and land. But more importantly, if the new Black government wanted to take the land from the white tribe, the government would have to buy the land at a price determined by the seller. The whole thing was called the willing-seller and willing-buyer system. And in case the buyer does not want to sell the land, the buyer cannot force the sale.
AZAPO was quite clear. It correctly analysed the situation and concluded that accepting the proposed deal will result in a sellout arrangement whereby the new democratic government would be reduced to a Matshingilane who would have to guard white wealth and property against the Black majority who may have aspirations of sharing in the wealth of the country.
Fast forward to today. AZAPO has been vindicated. April 27, 1994 did not herald liberation. The process did not lead to the transfer of land from the white tribe to the Black majority. The economy remained in white hands. The Constitution, largely praised by the liberals as the best in the world, has become a tool that prescribes the pace of transformation and has largely been used to protect the status quo.
Under democracy, South Africa has become the most unequal society in the world. Under democracy, unemployment has reached record levels, with youth unemployment as high as 70%. Under democracy, public health system has all but collapsed. Under democracy, public education is in a mess. Crime is out of control. It is only Black people who live in shacks. It is only Black people who still have to use the bucket system for their toilets. It is only Black people who still have to compete with animals for drinking water. But life is great for the white tribe who do not have to use these public services. Sadly, all these things are happening under a government led by non-whites.
Excuse us if we do not see the reason to celebrate April 27. The day is a painful reminder that our struggle for liberation was aborted. You do not need to look far to appreciate this. Only this week, there was news report that the Department of Defence is to brief the media about benefits for military veterans. As we speak, many former freedom fighters who gave their youth and literally sacrificed their lives for this country are destitute. But those who were on the other side, those who defended apartheid by killing our people have been taken care of. They have all the benefits and enjoy their pensions.
Excuse us if we do not see a clear reason for celebrating April 27. The apartheid regime may be gone but its legacy is being enforced by the current government.
But as imperfect as the system is, there is hope. The system allows for people to change the government through a vote. There is no reason to despair. We should remind ourselves that the power to change the system to serve us is in our hands. That is why AZAPO is pleading with all people to register to vote and use their vote to vote for change. It is really up to us. Our future is in our hands.
WHAT WILL AZAPO DO SHOULD IT TAKE TO POWER?
There is no lack of eloquence to describe the suffering of the majority of South Africans. In any event, many of us know that we are suffering because it is us who do not have land, jobs, quality education or proper health care system. It is us who have no adequate water. It is us who spend endless hours in darkness because of power outages.
There is no need to master tabulating our suffering. We know our suffering. The question that AZAPO should answer to a frustrated and angry South African, who can see that the political and economic situation in the country is moving from a crisis to a catastrophe is: what will AZAPO do should it get into power?
There is no denying that our country is suffering from an acute crisis of leadership. For instance, when the powers that be realised that the minister of energy or public enterprises is failing to get Eskom to deliver on its mandate to provide uninterrupted supply of electricity, a new portfolio of the Ministry of Electricity is created. The non-performing ministers are left to retain their positions. It is obvious that if we are to solve the country’s problems, we should change the government and elect a responsive and caring government. But that is only the beginning, and possibly the easier part. Politicians may attract a lot of publicity about their corruption, mismanagement, sheer incompetence and unethical leadership but they are extremely few in numbers. The National Assembly has only 400 Members of Parliament. Then there are 10 members from each of the nine provinces in the National Council of Provinces. Each of the provincial legislatures has no more than 100 MPLs. Considering that the country has an estimated population of 60 million, we have very few politicians.
While they get all the attention from the media, politicians can hardly carry off their evil plans if they do not get support from the public servants and members of the public.
If we are to really change South Africa for the better, our focus should also be directed at the ordinary person, the public servant, the functionary.
If we were to change the government today, will corruption end? Our humble submission is that it will not. If one looks closely at how the State functions, one will realise that the system was designed to ensure that politicians have very limited powers. They are not supposed to get involved in the awarding of tenders. But how do they get involved?
They get involved because there is always a bureaucrat who is willing to do their bidding. In many instances, the illegal instructions are given verbally without any paper trail.
It is ordinary public servants who are enablers of corruption. A health worker at a public hospital would steal medicines and sell these to private practitioners but join a chorus of citizens who complain that there are no medicines in public hospitals. Often those involved in weakening the State fail to connect their actions to poor delivery of service in public institutions.
While everybody is focusing their attention on politicians, AZAPO as the custodian of Black Consciousness, will seek to focus on panel-beating the soul of the citizens to restore their sense of pride in themselves and by extension in their country.
For an example, in Kwa-Zulu Natal, hundreds of thousands of learners are being denied their meals that are supposed to get in schools. In some of the schools, education has had to be stopped because the school feeding scheme has collapsed. Reason? In an attempt to clamp down on corruption and the stealing of food meant for children, the government decided to centralise the distribution of the food supply and to brand the food so that it could not be sold to third parties. However, the company that got the tender had limited capacity and the result was that the majority of schools could not get their supply.
But what kind of a parent would steal food meant for poor children? This is the parent that has no respect for self. This is the space for AZAPO. AZAPO’s main mission is to liberate the mind. Its mission is to destroy the slave mentality that makes Black people to behave like they are sub-humans. Once people have been baptized with BC, they will love themselves, they will respect themselves. They will become real patriots. They would not need to be policed to do the basic things right.
There is an acceptance that the State is essentially dysfunctional at the moment. But if public schools are dysfunctional, who works there? Who are these teachers who do not even believe that they are good enough to teach their own children? If public hospitals are not working, who are these health professionals who run them, but they do not use them when they are sick?
The public servants have medical aid schemes, and they use these to access private health care system when they need medical care. AZAPO’s teaching will change this. AZAPO will have a model State. The building block of a model State is a conscious Black public servant. This will be the focus of AZAPO. The RDP of the soul for the building of a caring society. The police alone cannot solve the rampant crime and corruption in our country. But a people who love themselves and respect others can become part of a public arsenal against crime and corruption.
This is what Bantu Biko had envisaged when he said: “In time we shall be in a position to bestow upon South Africa the greatest gift possible – a more human face.”
SOUTH AFRICAN CITIZENS MUST STAND UP
One must join those who marvel at the intelligence and foxiness of one Thabo Bester who, with just a primary school education, has managed to have the whole country wrapped around his little finger. You have to wonder where he would have been if he used his considerable skills in a positive way.
While some of his crimes are brutal and fatal, others, such as the businesses he ran from prison, including addressing conferences from “America” when he was in fact in a prison cell in Mangaung, are the very embodiment of sophistication and finesse. He even had very important personalities in our society wishing him Happy Birthday in song.
He conned the entire criminal justice system, the property market and the banking sector in his many escapades. In the process, he gave us an ample peep into the cesspit of criminality and sleaze that South Africa has become. And we should all be thoroughly alarmed.
You simply have to listen to parliamentary hearings in which ministers in the criminal justice system, prison officials, the private company that has been given the rights to run two prisons in the country, the contempt with which the obviously corrupt G4S holds the authority of the state, the hand-wring deference to the company by the government, the almost inexplicable tardiness on the part of the state in dealing with the Thabo Bester shenanigans, to realize how much trouble we are in. This gives credence to talk taking the rounds to the effect that politically connected people are shareholders in G4S.
The Thabo Bester saga has lifted the lid to enable us to see a bit of the layers of criminality that runs this country at every level and in different sectors of our lives. This explains in part why crime is out of control and the state seems incapable of taming it.
Whole rail tracks are stripped and carted away. Electricity pylons are felled by thieving thugs to the extent that large parts of the capital city of Tshwane are left in the dark for days. What can we protect if we cannot secure the seat of government?
The so-called construction mafia has managed to stop construction at different sites through intimidation and actual harm of workers but the state seems completely incapable of dealing with the problem.
It is time for the citizens of this country to stand up and ensure we do not descend into a mafia state. Crooked as he might be, Thabo Bester has demonstrated to us how far the underworld has gone in running the country. The political leadership has either ceded its responsibility to criminal networks or is in cahoots with the crooks.
South Africa belongs to the citizens. It does not belong to political parties, their leaders or the civil servants. These operate and serve at the behest of citizens. It is only a civilly educated citizenry that can bring the corruption and criminality to an end.