Thousands of people gathered in front of Parliament in protest against President Jacob Zuma. The writer says he refuses to take part in the opportunistic and orchestrated marches. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA Pictures

ANC Western Cape spokesperson Yonela Diko explains why they accept criticism from the SACP, Cosatu and Pravin Gordhan, but reject it from #SaveSA.

Our politics have been divisive, poor policy implementation, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Too many of our schools are failing, our health and education systems are inadequate, state enterprises are in tatters and our water reserves reaching worrying levels.

The truth is that the country needs a turnaround strategy. A turnaround in the Union Buildings, where it seems our president and his minions are carrying out their dirty deeds. We need a turnaround in Parliament, which is seen as compliant and complicit. We need a turnaround at Luthuli House which is manic and self-absorbed.

The ANC’s strength and survival has never been a given. That strength had to be created, fought for, and tended like gardens.The strength of the organisation expanded or contracted with the vision of its leaders. In the early years of freedom that vision was expanded through daring marches, the sit-ins, the jail songs and courage that had kept the ANC alive. It is through organising and shared sacrifice that membership was earned.

Our people have always been clear about what they ask of us. Determination mostly The determination to push against whatever power kept them stooped, instead of standing straight. The determination to resist the easy or the expedient. We might be governing under historical conditions not of our own making, but we still have a responsibility to shape the future of the country.

All this is only possible if the ANC achieves the needed turnaround. And only a renewed ANC can result in a country whose mood and disposition is that of a country on the rise.

This change, however, may well not be different from what SaveSA and all these overnight and obscure civil organisations are demanding. Why then is there such antagonism and hostility towards one another if our current desires are not so different. Is it race, is it class, or is it ideological leanings?

It is true that the emotions between the races can possibly never be pure; things will always be tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing in ourselves. Whether we sought out our demons or salvation, the other race would always remain just that: menacing, alien, and apart.

Here is, however, the real reason we accept criticism from the SACP, Cosatu and PG (Pravin Gordhan), but reject it from SaveSA and the cabal.

In 2008, Afrobarometer conducted a survey in the Western Cape on the perception of the then newly elected ANC president, likely to be the country’s president, Jacob Zuma. The survey revealed that respondents in the Western Cape had very little trust in the then newly ANC elected president. Afrobarometer Research said only 13% of respondents in the province said they trusted the president “always” or “most of the time”.

This meant that before the president had put in a single day in office as the president of the Republic, his approval ratings in the Western Cape were sitting at 13%.

And yet, In 1993, according to the book Fit to Govern by the towering intellect of Ronald Suresh Roberts, there were already some South African thinkers, predominantly middle class and predominantly white and some black, who were predicting a huge failure of the then looming black government, because they said we lacked established governing habits.

They predicted that some of our ministers would lend their state cars to their cousins and miss meetings, some would get drunk and not follow through with their government duties, a tirade of silliness and disdain.

In fact, former president Thabo Mbeki had pointed out back in 1993 that, disturbingly, to some sections of our society the ANC was being judged according to sins we may commit in the future. For some sections of our society, the ANC has never really had much credit in the nation’s goodwill account.

And if the ANC was interested in growing this goodwill, we would have to meet the wish list of these particular sections. As a result, the ANC was under attack even before the ink was dry on our constitution.

What this means to others is that the dislike for ANC leaders is not particularly rational, it’s always been lurking at the door, waiting for incidences to validate. It’s only been a matter of time before these long-held prejudices against an ANC government would find a vehicle.

There was a concerted effort during the Mbeki presidency with again a white uprising around Mbeki’s refusal to fire Manto Tshabalala Msimang, his HIV/Aids views, his unwillingness to fire Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (as if it was in his power to do so) and for too long this was deemed to be the Mbeki legacy, until Zuma became the new and easier validation of previously held prejudices. What makes this even more pronounced is the impact of Zuma’s presidency in the lives of the people, predominantly middle class, that are filling the halls at the memorials for Uncle Kathy (the late Ahmed Kathrada).

The middle class has actually done well in the country. In the past 23 years, the black middle class has increased its spend to R400billion a year, with an expanding professional strata that has become a defining feature of our democracy. Each year our universities and other training institutions are producing thousands of graduates who yearly increase the black presence in every sphere.

The SaveSA campaign and their cabal march then is neither about a declining ANC nor about their middle class, because they have never held Zuma in high regard and have not done particularly badly under his rule. It’s simply about a validation of their long-held prejudices.

I would be damned to join such unpatriotic and anti-black, anti-ANC and opportunistic marches. These are the enemies of the rainbow nation, because it is only a rainbow when the bright colours are lighting up their corners.

* Diko is the ANC Western Cape spokesperson.

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

Cape Times