Defiant Jacob Zuma addresses his supporters outside his home in Nkandla. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
Defiant Jacob Zuma addresses his supporters outside his home in Nkandla. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

The perpetual trauma of the SA narrative

By Lorenzo A Davids Time of article published Jul 6, 2021

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South African citizens are a people in perpetual trauma. Much of that trauma has been imposed on the people by its politicians. When our democracy was born with a globally admired free and fair election in 1994, we were fêted worldwide.

Today, politician after politician has tarnished that image and deepened the trauma of the people.

The trauma took a particular trajectory when the death and torture of our people were first revealed at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which began its hearings in 1995. We were exposed to Vlakpaas operatives like Eugene de Kock, Dirk Coetzee, Ferdi Barnard and their askaris like Joe Masemela.

We watched as burnt bodies were exhumed from shallow graves. In 1996 we listened to the evidence on the murder of Stompie Seipei. We heard Jerry Richardson tell the TRC, "I slaughtered him (Seipei) like a goat."

We heard TRC Chair Archbishop Desmond Tutu conclude an emotional TRC session on December 4, 1997, with a plea to Winnie Mandela: "I beg you, I beg you, I beg you, please ... you are a great person, and you do not know your greatness will be enhanced if you said, 'sorry, things went horribly wrong'."

In September 1999, we faced the shock of the arms deal scandal when Patricia de Lille blew the whistle on it. We heard allegations that billions of rand went into the pockets of politicians and their business partners through those deals.

In 2000 then president Thabo Mbeki shocked the nation with his Aids denialism and had a health minister who gained notoriety for promoting lemons, garlic and olive oil to treat Aids.

Mbeki's Aids denialism policies were directly responsible for the avoidable deaths of more than 330 000 people. More than 35 000 HIV-infected babies were born who could have been protected from the virus

During the Zuma government, corruption eroded essential services to the people and is estimated to have wiped out up to R45 billion from the fiscus.

State Capture corruption and the collapse of our basic infrastructure such as sanitation, roads and water surfaced everywhere.

Multiple examples emerged of public servants and politicians doing business with the state and taking money from the fiscus for personal gain.

We learnt of politicians who became billionaires while serving in various political and government offices. Political executions began to surface.

While this traumatising scenario was going on, the DA poured bags of salt on to the national wound when Helen Zille told us that colonisation was not as bad as what black people experienced and embraced a narrative that undermined the trauma of racism.

The latest offering by the DA is one that states that it’s a bad idea for black people to be alert to their political past and current ongoing exploitation.

Today Jacob Zuma pushes his spear further into that national trauma. e squishes it around by threatening to unleash violence if he is arrested. Anointing weapons of war, he and his family have further corrupted and tribalised the uniqueness of our diverse national unity.

We can add to this trauma the data on our murder rate, our housing backlogs, and our unemployment rate. While politicians tout their “Struggle history” and “clean government” records as worthy of our trust, they fail to recognise the trauma they have caused.

Our trust has been abused. They have not cared about the lived realities of people who carry with them generational trauma.

This day is the day we wake up to deep fear and trauma about our land. Virtually every fear and trauma we live with have a political origin. When our towns collapse and our children die, politicians feast and sleep. However, when their wellbeing is at stake, they all want to "address the nation".

Perhaps they need to hear Archbishop Tutu’s plea to Winnie Mandela once again: "I beg you, I beg you, I beg you, please, say sorry, things went horribly wrong'."

* Lorenzo A Davids.

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

Cape Argus

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