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Voting to rebury the Apartheid playbook: 'We have people occupying political office, not leaders'

Our political office-bearers are a unique anti-leadership class that has developed a resistance to critical thinking, intelligent design, and the building of a great society, writes Lorenzo A Davids. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Our political office-bearers are a unique anti-leadership class that has developed a resistance to critical thinking, intelligent design, and the building of a great society, writes Lorenzo A Davids. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Mar 29, 2022

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There is an enormous sadness within me about where we are as a country.

I am not one to lament that progress has been slow and that we should have resolved all our problems by now. Twenty-eight years is not a long time in the epochs of political time.

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What fills me with sadness is how distracted we have become as a country; throwing ourselves into sideshows that take us off course from building the country of our dreams.

Critical issues such as land reform, building an inclusive economy, and resolute social justice commitments that inform national and global policies have made little progress because our leaders are too busy at the feeding trough.

This raises a greater concern for me: we have people occupying political office – we do not have leaders. We are not being led. In fact, our political office-bearers are a unique anti-leadership class that has developed a resistance to critical thinking, intelligent design, and the building of a great society.

Instead, they have become puny nationalists of the John Vorster variety, whose television appearances defined “verkramptheid” for us.

The brutal way Vorster responded to Soweto in 1976 is virtually how this government responds to service delivery protests. Their invitations to join in South Africa’s transformation journey are of the PW Botha variety, who only invited people who were willing to become nodding acolytes. The rest, as Botha did, they politically discredit and move out.

Their shock and horror at the state of the country are of the FW De Klerk variety, who, when confronted at the TRC with what apartheid hit squads did, stated to the TRC that he never knew of the murders committed by hit squad activities. So too did Ramaphosa state to the Zondo Commission that he never knew the extent of the corruption while he was in office.

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It is of huge disappointment to see the apartheid playbook at work in South Africa today.

Last week, in his Human Rights Day speech, KZN Premier Sihle Ziklala stated that the courts are overreaching into the mandate of Parliament, and that we should consider having a Parliament whose laws cannot be challenged by other organs of state or civil society. That is Apartheid Thinking 101.

This rise in nationalist populism is occurring everywhere. We are witnessing the return of the apartheid “supremacy of the state” narratives and a deliberate erosion of the supremacy of the Constitution.

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Our apartheid masters taught us that the point of power is to retain it for self-aggrandisement and not in service of the common good. We are now stooped inside the belly of the beast of self-serving power. There are no leaders rising up to shout, “hey, these guys have no clothes on!” because there are no leaders.

We only have political sycophants occupying political office with no ability to lead us to the country of our dreams. This is true of virtually all – with minor exceptions – of South Africa’s political leaders across all political parties. No one shows the courage to stand for justice when party policies and decisions go against the doctrines of natural.

The more profound question confronting us in the 2024 national elections is whether we will bravely take a stand against the apartheid playbook so liberally used by our political masters. In this era of nationalistic populism, we tend to follow those who make unintelligible noise, get applause for being anti-constitution, and appear defiant.

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Welcome back, John Vorster, PW Botha and FW De Klerk. Conflict resolution specialist André Vlok recently said: “As South Africans, we are just not happy unless we have a new leader or movement to fawn over and sycophantically follow into a mess of new troubles.”

That psychoanalysed the state of South African politics very aptly.

Who would have thought that in 2024 we would have to vote to rebury the Apartheid playbook?

* Lorenzo A Davids.

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

Cape Argus

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