Letters to the Editor: April 21

M&G readers weigh in on President Jacob Zuma, the crisis in Swaziland, the Julius Malema trial and more.

If Jacob Zuma is God, I’m an atheist
All of us, as a country and a nation, would agree that we have had our fair share of leaders who live in their own, small world insulated from the harsh reality of our people.

When we first heard the notion that the ANC would rule “until the second coming of Christ”, we laughed it off as the ignorant ranting of people flirting with Christian scriptures.

Their obviously deluded state of mind is now confirmed.
They now believe that God has landed on Earth and walks among us. Come May 18, apparently, this God will be among the faces and logos on voting ballots when we put crosses next to our local government candidates.

This God seemingly wears green, black and gold. It got me thinking. Does this God have a leather jacket in these party colours? Does he like dancing to kwaito tunes by young, half-nude, sexy songstresses such as Chomi and Winnie Khumalo, from whom he scouts candidates to receive his seed as he populates our nation? “Father of the Nation”, as someone once said.

Oh my God! How could we have missed it? So many clues and yet we missed it. Maybe this God is JZ—Jesus Zuma. How clever is that? If JZ means Jesus Zuma, and Jesus was the son of God and therefore is God Himself, then JZ = God. I say shove that God up the Luthuli House chimney, where the sun doesn’t shine. I will vote for the caring, intellectual, possibly atheist Azapo, whose men and women of integrity can find meaningful solutions to my real problems without another empty promise of divine intervention.

Azapo would abolish the provinces and bolster local government, form a state housing company and encourage housing co-operatives to deal with lack of housing, establish a 24-hour police service and community courts to combat crime and municipally subsidised public transport for school kids, the infirm and disabled. These are real and practical solutions.

To promise a God for a representative and divine intervention for my vote is to insult my intelligence and that of my 74-year-old mother and her peers, my family and friends, and the rest of the black people in general, who expect a people’s government to deliver qualitative and quantitative changes to poor communities that have suffered systemic exclusion and exploitation by the white-settler and colonial regime pre-1994. It is a legacy that continues unabated, even in a supposedly free and democratic state.—Mpumelelo Toyise

Swazi masses are winning the war
Swaziland’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Lutfo Dlamini, called the brutally crushed peaceful protest against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy a “failure”.

I beg to differ. In fact, the so-called “victory” of the regime against the demonstrators, whose call for democracy and rule of law in the absolute monarchy may turn out to be a pyrrhic one, makes Swazis less likely to accept reformist measures once the inevitable change comes.

The demonstrators didn’t manage to amass the numbers they had hoped for, but this was mainly because of intimidation, blocking tactics and ­violence by the police and security forces.

Now all ordinary Swazis, who don’t ordinarily associate with the democratic movement that the regime brands “terrorists”, have seen the true face of the regime. Ordinary people were stopped at roadblocks, denied access to Manzini, beaten up for no reason or driven to far-flung areas and left to walk home—simply for going about their daily business.

The Swazi regime might have won the battle in the streets, but the regime is losing the war for the hearts and minds of Swazis and the international community.—Name withheld

A simple ‘sorry’ would help ‘kill’ the grievance
On the Julius Malema “shoot-the-boer” saga, it is tragic that so many believe such conduct is tolerable (”‘Boers’ feel threatened by ‘failed state’”, April 15). What it proves is that the brutalising effects of apartheid are still with us. Black folk are acting out a terrible, unresolved grievance.

So what to do? Let us cast our minds back to that day, in 1995, when Nelson Mandela donned the Springbok jersey and brought a whole nation together, led by about 30 000 tearfully happy “boers” in the stands.

This was a very simple act on his part. It had incredible utility and for a while we were getting there as a nation. Think also of the Currie Cup final played by almost exclusively white rugby teams in Soweto. We, the silent majority, felt a moment of quiet exaltation. It was so good. The interactive radio stations were bombarded with expressions of simple joy, mouthed by so many ordinary black folk, part of that silent majority, who really would like things to be different. Black folk detected something precious; an indication of a change of heart.

Another thing is blindingly obvious. White people have simply never said “sorry”, not for the evil system of apartheid, but for how they treated black folk at a personal level: with unkindness, cruelty and contempt.

Now we wonder why Malema’s rhetoric strikes a chord. We wonder why many celebrated the murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche. We wonder why black folk vote on racial lines.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission provided a mechanism for most whites to distance themselves from the “real baddies”, thus glossing over the “badness” that they indulged in daily as the prerogative of a superior race.

Let us please just do it: at the shopping centre, in the street, in the workplace, in farm yards, on campuses, at schools, at gala dinners. What is important is that we all just do it.—Chris Greenland

History is dead. Long live history
The “shoot-the-boer” chant was a struggle song of the old ANC when the apartheid regime was opposed. The present ANC is different (and may now be the regime which is being opposed). Perhaps the history of the ANC is its best aspect, sad to say. No wonder the likes of Gwede Mantashe and Derek Hanekom are supporting Julius Malema. They are clinging desperately to history.—Joan Kerchhoff, Pietermaritzburg

I find Zapiro’s confident assertion that the singing of “kill the boer” has not led to any casualties rather naive. Maybe he expects the perpetrators of farm violence to leave a note, stating: “Inspired by…”—Leon Groenveld, Honeydew

According to some ANC spokesmen, the words “kill the boer, kill the farmer” actually mean the opposite. So when I say that the ANC elite has become so fattened by their WaBenzi lifestyle that they believe the rest of us to be complete and utter idiots, what I am really saying is: “Long live the ANC, long live.”—Michael Brett, Honeydew

It is by political element more than valour and fame that our country has achieved the democracy we are currently enjoying, the fruits of unity and cohesion brought to us by our tireless fighting.

We take credit for the songs that led us to the freeing of revolutionary leaders such as Nelson Mandela and many others, who were incarcerated precisely because of their involvement in the liberation struggle of our people. Our revolution is a history archived in the record books and no one must try to incite us to squash our own achievement because he or she is afraid to face reality. It is a history that our children must be fed because our democracy did not come on a silver platter. White people have archived their history since their arrival in the Cape.

The time of apartheid has come and gone and this is a time for us to be proud of what we have achieved. This is the most important time for us to sing our songs of freedom and think back on what we have done by freeing our people. It simply means that our history is continuing to shape our future. Everyone is reminded how important it is to vote for the ANC in this coming local government election.—Takalani Mmbengeni, deputy chairperson of the Young Communist League, Gauteng

Expose alcohol’s truth
All bottles of alcohol, all alcohol adverts and all points of sale for alcohol—bottle stores, supermarkets and bars—should be required to prominently display the label: “The World Health Organisation has determined that alcohol is the leading cause of death worldwide of people between the ages of 14 and 49.” It seems, at the very least, a reasonable warning for those who are about to buy alcohol.

The rosy picture of alcohol depicted in all South African television adverts as a socially friendly substance (with a minimalist warning to “drink responsibly—not for sale to those under 18”) completely misrepresents the dangers inherent in alcohol consumption. I look forward to the day when there are class-action legal cases against alcohol companies brought by the families of those maimed and killed in alcohol-related road accidents.—Richard Owen, Harare

Hand behind the book
Your excellent article on the Ministerial Handbook (”The elusive Ministerial Handbook”, April 15) fails in one respect. It fails to inform us who the author of the handbook was. Was it drawn up by a ministerial committee acting in the interest of ministers, or by an independent body such as a parliamentary ethics committee acting in the interest of the public? President Jacob Zuma has a duty to state where the government stands on the contentious issue of the handbook and what steps are being taken to ensure that it represents a fair and equitable guide to ministers’ expenditure, including that of the president.—Fayzal, Mayfair

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