Johannesburg - South Africa needs accountable and honest leaders who can speak up openly and act against greed and corruption to save it from sliding into anarchy.
So say the daughters of slain SACP leader Chris Hani –Vanessa and Cleopatra – as the country commemorates the 20th anniversary of the assassination of the Umkhonto weSizwe chief of staff.
On April 10, 1993, a lone Polish far-right immigrant, Janusz Walus, walked up to Hani while he was returning from buying newspapers and shot him at point-blank range, killing him.
The murder sparked outrage that threatened ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s reconciliation ideal as the country teetered on the brink of civil war.
On Tuesday, Hani’s daughters, Vanessa and Cleopatra, said their father would be honoured if the principles that he had stood for were best served.
“There is just so much that is wrong that bothers me,” said Vanessa.
“People are becoming self-interested and enriching themselves. It’s becoming more and more about individuals rather than serving the communities and the nation.”
While she doesn’t dispute that President Jacob Zuma may be liable for some of the problems facing the country, Vanessa contends that he is not solely to blame.
“As much as people say this and that about President Zuma, he is not alone in the cabinet. There should be accountability among all government officials. People must stop blaming each other and face the problems. We need people who will be honest and say this is wrong.”
The unemployment rate and the lack of quality education were problems bedevilling modern-day South Africa that needed rectifying, Vanessa added.
“If we don’t fit the youth into the education system and economy, we will have lots of problems.”
Vanessa added, though, that part of the problems affecting the government could be a result of people “sabotaging” the system because they did not want it to succeed.
Her statements were backed by her elder sister, Cleopatra.
“We need honest leaders who are responsible and accountable to the people,” she said, lauding the ANC for starting a political school.
“That will help root out the indiscipline so that people don’t do as they please. Some of the people who came into the organisation don’t know about its policies and core values. That is why we have problems. We need to return to the values of the ANC and the freedom charter.”
She added: “The truth is we are young in this revolution. We cannot be 100 percent perfect, but let’s appreciate the positives and not always be judgmental.
“We need to be positive. Let’s stop making a noise and pointing fingers and try to solve the problems we face.”
Cleopatra said the government needed to do more to stop the scourge of rape and the abuse of women and children. “I get so angry when people rape women and children. It kills me inside. I fail to understand how a 90-year-old granny with no voice can be subjected to such cruelty.”
So what does the commemoration of their slain father mean for the two sisters?
“For me, tomorrow is not a good day. We live with this heavily contaminated wound that doesn’t go away. I don’t understand why they had to kill him, but we have to move on in order to honour him,” said Vanessa.
Cleopatra said: “It may have happened 20 years ago, but it’s still fresh in my mind. A selfless leadership that embraces the culture of ubuntu would be the best way to honour him.”