On the eve of a 2018 sunset, what does SA need going forward?
In three days’ time, South Africa will enter 2019 - which also marks its 25th year of political freedom since the legislative apartheid illegitimate rulership.
As the sixth national elections planned for May loom, it is imperative that these next few days become a moment of serious reflection.
While throughout the years we have celebrated what has been dubbed a miracle time for the country, we are also reminded of how the past continues to haunt us and how “political freedom” has fallen short in engaging the anomalies of over 400 years of suppression, oppression and debasement of the masses that denotes the South African populace.
If we are on the threshold of a new year that will re-emphasise old and current pressing burdens, then we ought to ask ourselves: At this time,what does South Africa really need?
Our daily encounters with our sordid past have long shaved the veneer off the “miracle” and a settlement in which apartheid benefactors have received a far better deal.
South Africans have learnt the hard way that hoping for a meaningful life from political personalities and groups is a highly irresponsible act with disastrous consequences.
Citizens are learning time and time again that the political power world is less honest about finding concrete and transformative solutions, but instead plays in the proverbial railway lines of oncoming trains with ease, knowing the masses and not they will bury the dead.
If we are to move in the right direction, South Africans must claim their own agency and determine what society they seek to thrive in.
They must therefore dispense with 25 years of over-reliance on political parties and honouring political personalities with crass iconic status.
As difficult for some as it may sound, we can categorically say today that we simply do not need a Nelson Mandela or his copycat.
Madiba is our history and any further romanticising of him ultimately enslaves critical free-thinking and stifles any prospects of development post-1994. The worship of Madiba and whoever else refuses to engage with the anomalies of our historical past in which he gained prominence sets us back.
As it is, South Africa remains confronted by real problems and a great part of this is often abused by our need to want to turn a blind eye in taking refuge in the prescribed drug of Mandela.
At the end of this year, South Africans know that the ruling party has failed dismally to provide a clear economic vision for SA. It still remains a party trapped in a coagulum of neo-liberalism while it struggles to interpret its meaning beyond the rhetoric of Marx, the SACP-borrowed substratum of its past ideological paradigm.
In this season, what aids the confusion more is the prevalence of the very public thin layer of black essentially connected families of what I term the “buffer-zone”. This group remains a strategic bulwark of neutralisers for any attempt of the masses to access what they fought for.
Their political power positions combined with their acquired personal wealth and stake in a deformed economy is the growing reason the masses still languish in poverty. They in the spirit of a Mandela-bastardised legacy have increasingly become the new insurance policy for apartheid’s white privilege to continue unabated.
If 2019 must bring anything new, it warrants the masses to relook at those whom they call comrades, chief - those who directly aid the enslavement and destruction of radical economic transformation.
South Africa can do without a crop of dishonest and embedded elite who straddle the spheres of politics, religion, academics, business, civil society, the judiciary and the media, who more than often arrogate the right to economically benefit from the handouts of apartheid masters, and equally to speak for and reprimand the masses.
South Africa needs people who are more honest and less suffering from the intoxicating disease of avarice, of which they easily accuse others.
If South Africa is to progress, the arrogated rights of the elites - as an interspersed mashed group evidencing a hypocritical morality that remains silent on the negative role their apartheid white identity partners who dry-cleaned most of them, play - must be exposed and laid bare.
South Africa needs a media that is not controlled by a cohort of bitter individuals, in some instances gender-based, who are in cahoots with political and economic role-players engaging in daily proxy wars afforded carte blanche to abuse its discourse for their personal sake when they arrogate the right to call others fake because they can.
South Africa can do without a labour community that has long lost the true interest of workers.
If we are serious about change, the country needs a more honest organised labour fraternity, not a group of political power hobnobs who pride themselves sharing on social media their latest Porshe Cayennes and where they have gone for holidays, in the name of the workers. Those who tell us what caviar they ate while posting pictures with their favourite Cabinet ministers.
Having looked at what South Africa does not need, let us then ask again what it does need, and what its entrusted political mandate holder will say in its January 8 Statement, to be delivered on January 12.
Needless to say, this Statement constitutes its Manifesto since we are entering an election year. As bodies of all sizes and shapes draped in all sorts of green, yellow and black attire gather in KwaZulu-Natal, we must pause and ask: What do we need?
Beyond the broad smiles, a sophisticated public relations machinery and make-shift exercises, beyond platitudes of a vaunted new dawn whose wheels form part of the thuma mina campaign, it is time were realise that South Africans need the ruling party and all-party formations to be honest. For the ANC to come clean and admit that its uncritically adopted apartheid race configurations continue to fuel racism.
South Africa needs for its citizens to be unapologetic about the land question. South Africans desperately need radical economic transformation, which simply means the conscious radical change of control, ownership, managing and means of an economy in which the masses are not mere bystanders but actively engaged in opportunity; access to craft their own life spaces.
South Africa needs to respond to the ticking time bomb of an alarmingly high unemployment rate. We are running an economy controlled by 55 to 75-year-olds who are a dying breed and have carved out no plans for their children to lead, because they failed to produce job opportunities for this generation. The disparity is real and we do not have the luxury of postponing action on meaningful job creation initiatives in this regard.
So as the ANC readies to tell us what they will do in 2019 - 2024, it cannot but engage the subject of job creation, not in the superfluous sense, but cognisant of the impending volcano that will erupt in which spewing lava will not spare the elite, either.
The ANC must commit itself to say unequivocally what the actual plan with Eskom and other SOEs is.
It also warrants explaining to its members and voters what has happened to the unity it was instructed to work on a year ago. It must explain the ongoing purging and denial of skills by its arrogant ministers, who can’t get over a 2017 election campaign to target some regardless of a sphere in denial of opportunities to serve South Africa. The Ramaphosa leadership must tell us how his collective actions in 2018 assisted the cause of unity, since this is a major issue if he has any hope of summiting Mount May Elections in 2019.
Finally, the ANC under its current leadership needs to admit it has sought to use state capture claims and the commission to essentially settle political scores, in which the organisation is and remains on trial, as diverse formations of factions turn on each other to deal with each other. It must convince us as voters why we must continue to trust its confirmed factionalised androgyny of identity to lead this society, when it has made a mockery of the voters’ mandate hitherto for failing to lead, since it is being led in all spheres that define society.
This is what South Africa needs to know going forward.
* Clyde Ramalaine is a writer and political commentator.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.