Protesters on the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria during the protest by opposition parties calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down. Picture: EPA
The legacy of colonialism and apartheid is a powerful state of mind that dominates our psyche, writes Sandile Memela. 

If you are like most people, blinded by emotional political reasoning, you will have expected the ANC to listen to the people and fire its president.

To the sober and rational, this is as preposterous as it is predictable.

There are many unprecedented things that have happened in the new South Africa. But a liberation movement firing or expelling its president for the second time is not one of them

We are talking about firing and expelling here. A delegation would arrive at the presidential guest house to tell Jacob Zuma, “Mr President, pack your bags and go. The trucks are waiting for you outside.” It is inconceivable!

But this does not mean the ANC's national executive committee hasn't heard or doesn't know what the people want. Yes, we are told the people want Zuma to go. I have not seen anyone, particularly in branches, raise their hands and voices to demand that.

Wait, let’s talk about this and be practical. Recently, 86 leaders of the ANC were locked away in a heavily guarded hotel for four days in Irene, Tshwane. They were gathered with one purpose: to take stock of why the party lost support in the local government elections.

They had to clearly identify and define the problems. Above all, they had to make a resounding declaration of solutions.

But this is incorrect analysis. The ANC has not lost power. Yes, it is on the decline. But it is definitely not true that the majority party has lost power.

There are two things that cannot be disputed. First, parties in power for too long begin to lose power after 20 years. Secondly, as democracies mature, people lose interest and don’t bother to vote. They realise politicians are only interested in themselves. So they don’t bother to vote or pay attention to politics.

There is something else we should be looking at. Whether the ANC is in power or not, most African people will still not be free. They will continue to live in a white supremacist, patriarchal and capitalist economic system.

This system strangles all people. Much as it doesn't care whether you are black or white, the African majority are the worst affected. The face of dehumanising poverty, unemployment and hopeless in South Africa is African. Period!

But what I’m driving at is the legacy of colonialism and apartheid on the psyche of all black people, including the so-called leadership. It is a powerful state of mind that dominates our psyche.

What this means is that the current leadership of the ANC and all other parties are the product of colonialism and apartheid. They promote and perpetuate structures, systems and processes that entrench economic inequality and injustice.

Now how the hell do you overcome a system that has defeated your mind, overcome and dominates your world outlook? It is like a cancer eating away at your body. There is nothing you can do about it no matter how much you try to wriggle. At some point, you must fall.

So, you choose to live fast, make a fast buck and hold on for as long as you can. This is what the ANC leadership is doing.

This is what you, too, would do. In fact, this is exactly what we do every day of our lives, especially the chattering classes. It is about our collective selfishness, greed and self-interest.

We will not say or do anything that will undermine our cosy and good-quality lives provided by jobs in and outside government. Nobody would.

There are millions of people, black and white, who benefit from the way things are in this country. They are business people, the clergy, government technocrats, professionals and all sorts of people. They carry on with their lives in an inherently unjust and unequal society.

Now why do we want or expect the ANC or its leadership to destroy itself? It would be killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

Will anyone who does not want to live a life torn from the pages of a glossy magazine please raise their hands. Who does not want to lead the life of a movie star, when wherever you go eyes are glued to you and people know your name?

Let's be frank, it's nice to have people rise to their feet when you enter the room. To get them to sing the national anthem before they sit down, shut up and listen to you. It's nice to have three houses - Cape Town, Joburg and Nkandla - lavishly furnished with all expenses paid. Everybody wants that, including the poor.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with President Zuma. We the people that put him into power must go and look for the problem in the mirror. Think and pray, and pray some more about it!

* Memela is a journalist, writer, cultural critic and civil servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

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

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