/ 19 May 2017

Letters to the editor: May 19 to 25 2017

Flagged: Ubuntu values of inclusivity and empathy can help South Africa to shift to a mature democracy
'We should rely not on government, but on ourselves. Government should be a further propellant and not our only hope,' writes Banele Simelane. (Getty)

Can we manage our freedom?

The dividend of democracy is freedom. It was the freedom to choose that saw millions of South Africans snaking across the land to cast their votes in 1994. It is freedom of expression that has given us some of the most beautiful art and music, and some of the greatest orators in the world. It is freedom to act that has fired up hope and aspiration in African entrepreneurs from Cape Town to Kigali. Freedom has brought us glory, but it is also tipping us into the abyss.

The greatest challenge we face as a nation is how to manage our freedom responsibly, so it becomes a stepping stone to greatness and not the gallows.

Twenty-three years into post-apartheid “free” South Africa, we’re realising that democracy isn’t the sanitised, idyllic, socially cohesive political ideology we thought it would be. It’s somewhat loud, somewhat messy, somewhat irritating and somewhat imperfect.

Where else in the world can you see the type of insults that are periodically hurled at our politicians, the country’s president denigrated by what masquerades as art and the pervasive public protests from our populace? That is democracy. Its unique value proposition is in guaranteeing the freedom for anyone and everyone to be heard.

But recent developments in our body politic reveal a danger to our democratic gains. These include the strong-arm tactics to evict the Economic Freedom Fighters from Parliament some months ago, the booing of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan at the Ahmed Kathrada memorial service in Durban, the prevention of President Jacob Zuma from addressing the Cosatu rally in Bloemfontein and the attempts by the EFF to disrupt the recent National Foundation Dialogue Initiative because of the presence of former president FW de Klerk. These actions don’t only show scant regard for democracy, they also negate the democratic values enshrined in our Constitution.

The booing and increasingly intimidatory politics present a downward trend towards intolerance and repressive behaviour, which undermine the very values for which so many of our heroes struggled and died. Democracy promotes pluralism by encouraging diversity of views. It is only from robust debate that great solutions can emerge. Hence democracy is more than a political ideology. It’s a way of living that ensure, if we commit to democratic values, we commit to tolerance, forgiveness and respect. This requires enhanced political maturity and emotional intelligence.

South Africa’s political evolution has a rich history of ideological diversity. Our multicultural nation embodies the legacies of many racial and cultural histories and we share robust differences of opinion on just about everything. The miracle that impressed the world in 1994 was the fact that, with all our differences, we could come together as a nation to forge a shared destiny.

Unfortunately, our democracy is under constant threat by those who don’t understand nor subscribe to it. Recent incidents of racism and divisive rhetoric have revealed how fragile our democracy is, showing that despite our lip service it is yet to become embedded in our cultural, social and political memes.

The world is changing. Democracy in many countries is under threat as tyranny and despotic rule exerts an increasingly powerful presence. Operating in a colder, more hostile global and domestic environment requires a different tack from our politicians. Many are still mired in the duality of oppositional “I versus you” politics. Politicians, despite electoral promises, become singularly concerned with their parties’ fight for narrow party interests at the expense of the electorate.

Pope Francis provided an elegant solution in a recent TED talk: “When there is an ‘us’, there begins a revolution.” Social cohesion through inclusivity and empathy should be defining South Africa’s social, economic and political advancement. Perhaps our education system, faith-based organisations and media should collaborate, elevate and promote our ubuntu values. – Rudi Kimmie, manager of the Hub for the African City of the Future, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Molefe’s R30m smacks of ANC freemasonry

The R30-million golden handshake and return of Brian Molefe to Eskom as its chief executive has the hallmarks of ANC freemasonry: enrichment and protection of ANC congregants and associates.

I know from personal experience and observation that if you are not anointed by the ANC and/or approved by South African White Capital, then you are a lone wolf howling at the moon and won’t be credited, let alone compensated, for any insight and advocacy.

I therefore believe that the Uncle Toms behind the Save SA mutiny have developed a conscience because they have to justify their super-riches to their white benefactors, hence the shallow and short-sighted urge to remove President Jacob Zuma while the current ANC leadership at large has proven to be cancerous for the country, its people and prosperity.

Former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki wouldn’t have seen a problem with a “qualified” black man like Molefe, who is an ANC anointee, being enriched and protected despite frequently rotten behaviour, gluttony and a lack of scruples.

Just think of the ANC darlings – Stella Sigcau, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Sol Kerzner, Brett Kebble, Jackie Selebi, the Oppenheimers, and so on. And the subsequent kicking out of Bantu Holomisa from the ANC for speaking out against ANC freemasonry and its National Party-inspired sidelining and oppression of those who are not approved and/or anointed by those in power and/or in the money. – Luyanda Marlon Kama, KwaDwesi, Port Elizabeth