“If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government.” Nelson Mandela, 1994
Two decades after the birth of our new democracy, the father of our nation’s words resonate loudly. The leader that can lead South-Africa into Africanisation has been born. Infact, he has been in office for a few years now. However, he is hopefully in his last term but so far, he does not have a proud legacy to leave. The only legacy that will save the President’s term of office, in his mind, must be the notion of trying to deliver something special to the majority of South-Africa.
Africanisation, in my own humble opinion, is the abolishment of any colonial trace within a Country and then an attempt to systematically build from a level of ground zero. There is no racist intent, the belief is more that if you are African, regardless of race, you have a place in the Country. The levels of redress become higher albeit false. The most memorable Country to benchmark is Zimbabwe. Two decades into their new found freedom, transformation was not taking place at a rate that the Government appreciated. They introduced aggressive measures and we all remember what happened from then on. Today Zimbabwe still suffers the consequences and the aggressive transition lead to a lose-lose situation for employer and employee. Government might still be claiming victory but the people of Zimbabwe, judging by their influx into South-Africa, maybe disagree.
We have seen in President Mugabe both a vision and drive that makes him a well -respected leader in Africa. He has also told world leaders, of the West, where to get off making his popularity in Africa even more pronounced. He has shown the world what it means to collect taxes for the office and leave the rest for the population. Zimbabwe continues as a shadow of the powerful bread-basket it once was. Freedom comes at a price. Government strives for political freedom whilst the public usually require economic freedom. One would argue that Zimbabwe had economic freedom (although there were still many that had not been redressed). However post the aggressive land reforms and collapse of the economy, Government has now traded economic freedom for a political freedom or plainly put for a legacy of one man. Research will show that this has lead to less redress than had Government pursued an economic agenda. Mutual respect for the tax base and the poor should bring the wealth gap more in line. This is more sustainable than focusing on one side that could widen such gap. However the most fatal mistake that any Country can make is to put a person above his country.
South-Africa is at a cross road at this stage of its new democracy. The person in charge has a choice. He can either drive South-Africa towards the National Development Plan or bulldoze us into the National Democratic Revolution. Two distinct paths that do not cross anymore are laid out before the whole of South-Africa to see. Watching the man amass his wealth; take power over any independent institution and dodge as many bullets as you can fire at the man, makes me think that we are not dealing with a democratic president of South-Africa but rather President Mugabe lite. As we giggle through the 5th Parliament the signs on the path become clearer that we as a nation of Africans, need to either show the President the error in his ways or make plans to live through the period of Africanisation that will befall us.
At the risk of raising alarm, I write this blog to show you that we are still in the game and that, like chess, the definite results can only materialize a few more moves away. However it does require more interest and more involvement of all who stand to lose or benefit from an undesired result.
If you are happy with the path to Africanisation then enjoy the ride. It is not racist in its intention and is well meaning in its implementation. However a bright disclaimer reads – not for the faint hearted. I am sure many people pray that this is not the case and I know many of them exist in the upper echelons of the ruling party. They pray for 2019 very quickly and that a smooth exit with the least amount of damage to the ruling party is preserved.
In Germany, a study was undertaken around the effects of trivial laws that are hard to enforce. The findings were interesting and pertinent to our dear President. The study concluded that if a law exists that outlaws littering, a person that struggles with his conscience to keep the law, will break a seal in his conscience after the first time he disobeys a law. What becomes an acceptance of littering might manifest to an acceptance of smoking in public and then it may progress to worse. There are two reasons for this. The first is the lessening of a conscience everytime an unacceptable act is repeated. The second one being that the lower the chances of being penalized for the act, the more endearing it becomes to repeat.
President Zuma seems to have come to a stage in his life where whatever he touches seems to be protected by a team of ministers elected by him, a party that cannot air its dirty laundry and institutions that are being towed into line through changes in leadership or changes in legislation. Everytime a new low is thought to have been achieved, we are surprised with another.
If you thought Parliament has degenerated into a circus, make no mistake, it is a battlefield. If you thought that opposition parties are doing nothing and the party in power is getting away with everything, make no mistake, a host of petitions, court orders and public action are deployed in many different scenarios on an almost daily basis. We winning some we losing others but time will tell the real score. 2016 will be a good benchmark.
The tug of war is currently hovering around the centre whilst some parties rally towards the National Development Plan and others towards the National Democratic Revolution. Country, expats, investors and politicians are watching. The pieces on the chess board seem to be moving to a more decisive stage of the game. Check.