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I am deeply saddened as I write this. I am physically disturbed by the violence that has erupted in KwaZulu-Natal. I find no comfort in the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma. I don’t celebrate mocking Dali Mpofu’s legal skills.
A burning truck, a crushing legal victory, or the insides of a prison wall do nothing to change the basic reality that we are in a significant crisis in South Africa. While many praise the resilience of our constitutional structures, the current earthquake in our country cannot be ignored. Seismic pressures threaten South African society.
This earthquake is centered around the crisis of our message.
What kind of society do we want to live in? What would a decent, secure, just, equitable, inclusive and prosperous South Africa look like? What do these words mean for the unemployed, the sick, the hungry, and people living in violence and war-like conditions?
The state of poverty, unemployment and violence in our country is the result of a growing disconnect between politicians and the people. People who did not fear in 1976 the most powerful army on the African continent, find cold comfort in the most advanced constitution in the world.
People find it incomprehensible that politicians can rule with immense wealth, privilege and power while doing so little to address the poverty, unemployment, and violence their people live in. This is the message crisis in South Africa.
Why not build school toilets but buy new cars for ministers?
Why is violence not dealt with in our society but considered the new uniform of the army? Why is food security and employment not a major government program but the restoration of parliamentarians’ homes is on the agenda?
A government that understands its mission will not spend an extra cent on the comforts of its politicians for the next five years. Instead, it will reaffirm its mission to build a respectful, secure, just, equitable, inclusive and prosperous society for its people.
We can set up committees and jail all the corrupt politicians and their associates, but that won’t bring us any closer to addressing the earthquake that is happening in our society. If the people cannot see that their political leaders prioritize dispatch issues such as equitable access to income generation, decent housing, employment for all, and equitable land ownership, they will eventually destroy the constitutional republic, because they destroyed the safest African country in the 1980s.
We may pay tribute to the courage of Judge Kambibe or the legal ingenuity of Advocate Ngkokaitubi, but we should not ignore the earthquake of poverty and violence that people experience. Poverty and violence have now touched all classes and cultures of our society.
While the Zuma government has withdrawn billions of rand to its friends and brought our country’s infrastructure to its knees, the current government is ruling in evaporating euphoria, with little to show for tackling violence, eradicating poverty, and equitable access to the economy and land.
How do we re-establish our nation’s message? This absence of message is where the current sadness within our democracy is born. We need politicians with the skills to stand up to the earthquake, not glory in prison.
History this week states that on July 13, 1984, South Africa’s last all-white parliament convened for the last time. The general elections in August 1984 introduced the skewed tripartite parliamentary system, which excluded the majority of black Africans in this country.
The Nationalist Party believed that by co-opting people of color and Indians, they would strengthen their presence. The nightmare lasted 10 years and fell. It is better for the current president to learn from history. Doing what is constitutionally right does not protect the ruling party from the consequences of ignoring the earthquake that is occurring in our society.
* Lorenzo Davids.
** The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the independent media.
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