Lorenzo A Davids asks how do we begin to navigate our politics towards a more disciplined, engaged and orderly constitutional discussion about the ongoing transforming of South Africa? Picture: Leon Lestrade/African news Agency (ANA) Archives
Lorenzo A Davids asks how do we begin to navigate our politics towards a more disciplined, engaged and orderly constitutional discussion about the ongoing transforming of South Africa? Picture: Leon Lestrade/African news Agency (ANA) Archives

#changethestory: SA urgently requires a bravery last displayed by Mandela

By Lorenzo A Davids Time of article published Apr 14, 2021

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The political temperatures are ratcheting up in an all-ready over-cooked South African political environment. As the country hurtles towards April 28, 2021 with the expectation that the ANC secretary-general Ace Mugashule and other members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes, will not step aside, it is up to the party’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the National Executive Committee (NEC) to enact the consequence of suspension in terms of the governing party’s constitution.

In the vein of facing consequences, there is the war-mongering that comes from the fake Duduzane Zuma Twitter account.

A tweet from the account yesterday said: "If its war they want, it is war they will get. My father won't choose anything. Let them decide, but they must be ready to deal with the consequences."

Africa Check, the non-profit organisation, set up to promote accuracy in public debate and media in Africa found the account was a fake Duduzane Zuma account. Still, it certainly gets a lot of attention and adds fuel to the multiple fires the ANC NEC is trying to control because, quite frankly, much of the fires they can't put out any more.

How do we begin to navigate our politics towards a more disciplined, engaged and orderly constitutional discussion about the ongoing transforming of South Africa?

The recently launched Defend our Democracy campaign, with leaders such as Sheila Sisulu, Trevor Manuel and Mavuso Msimang all lending support to its cause, may not be enough to stop this onslaught.

We know full well that South Africans have campaigns very quickly get subsumed into its own political factionalism. This country urgently requires a bravery that was last seen displayed by Nelson Mandela in the dock at the Rivonia trial. April 20 marks the 47th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's speech at the Rivonia Trial. Mandela chose to make a speech from the dock instead of testifying to defend himself.

His speech, which held the court spellbound for more than four hours, ended with these words: "During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this Struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

It is such bravery that is currently required in South Africa. Such bravery is first individual, not organisational, is carried at a point of firm conviction and by a willingness to pay the ultimate price.

Who speaks for us today? Who enunciates the country of our dreams and carries the flame of a just, safe, equitable, inclusive and prosperous democracy that Nelson Mandela did so profoundly on April 20 1964?

Such voices, sadly, cannot come from the margins during a constitutional crisis. It must rise from within the innermost leadership of the political firmament.

Over the past 27 years, we have grown accustomed to this gaping hole in the political firmament that was once reserved for something called uncompromising integrity. We have become accustomed to leaders who we thought were people of profound individual integrity, crawling into a hole called “the party will decide”.

Perhaps we should use the seven days from April 20 (47th anniversary of Mandela’s speech) to April 27 (National Freedom Day) to ponder why were are in this political wilderness.

We have abandoned individual bravery and integrity, and we are now led by people who hide behind fake Twitter accounts and divided political party structures to launch their attacks on the country a man once went to serve a life-long prison term for because he “cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”.

* Lorenzo A Davids writes in his own capacity.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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