I don’t usually post political statements. However, the current political mess in South Africa is maddeningly frustrating. The solutions are amazingly simple, except for the existence of power mongering and greed. Instead of fighting the enemy, poverty, we fight each other.
Ignorance is necessary for control. Control is necessary for power. When religion and politics combine, it is easy to maintain the ignorance necessary for control. That is why the separation of religion and state, and its vigorous defence is necessary for democracy. But ignorance has another important source: poverty.
When the majority of people live in poverty, it is easy to sustain the ignorance needed for control, especially if you manipulate their ignorance with occasional use of the word “god”. This is why religion and poverty are the tools of unscrupulous politicians. Lifting people out of poverty also lifts them out of easy control.
When politicians are corrupt, there will be just enough upliftment to create the illusion of something being done. Politically astute, populist politicians who are out for their own corrupt access to power and money understand this very well. History is littered with them. People like Jacob Zuma will never adequately address the challenge of poverty, their power arises out of it, and power is intoxicating to the point of blindness.
Even if the ANC gets rid of its main ignorance-gobbling leader, the cronies will step up. They know. They understand that their ability to steal is directly linked to their access to ignorance. If South Africa is to take back a leadership role on the continent and in the world, it is going to have to deal with this challenge: all of us together.
We have to take the first steps, which is to get rid of not only Zuma, but the ANC as a governing power. They need to be given time to rest, recover their values, do proper planning that includes implementation, and then have a couple more defeats to galvanise them. Perhaps then they can come back, and live up to the promise of their founders. There is no other kindness to the ANC or to the people of South Africa. None.
We have a nation to build. We are not doing it. It is high time we did.
Today I am attending a Tamil naming ceremony for my granddaughter, who has the Shona name Tayana, which means “we are united”. But we are not united. I hope it will not take until her generation reaches adulthood before we are. How much we could achieve if we were.