If you’ve even vaguely glanced at any media source – newspaper, website, social media, etc. – in the last while, you would have noticed a lot of anti-Zuma sentiment. A lot. Everyone has something to say about Zuma. Many extend their opinions to the ANC. And it’s all doom and gloom about how Zuma and the ANC are the biggest problem in the world ever. I disagree. I don’t think Zuma and the ANC are the problem, and here’s why.
South Africa’s political system is a constitutional democracy. What does that mean? The ruling party is chosen by a vote of the citizens of the country. If the South African public really don’t want the ANC in power, all we have to do is vote them out. It’s that simple. But it hasn’t happened.
When the government of a country abuses power at the cost of its citizens but manages to stay in power nonetheless – by falsifying election results (no evidence of this that I’m aware of), buying votes (has possibly happened in South Africa), deliberately miseducating citizens as to the purpose of elections (it seems quite likely that most South Africans think “voting” actually means “putting a cross next to the ANC logo on a piece of paper”), etc. – the citizens typically resort to other means to get rid of the rogue government.
In South Africa, under the apartheid government, the majority of the country’s citizens were ineligible to vote. So did they sit back and just accept the corrupt system that was in place? Of course not! They opposed the system with everything they had. The ANC was one of a number of organisations that spent its entire existence fighting against the government. Did they fight in terms of the laws of the country (made by a government they didn’t elect)? To a degree, at first. But when that got them nowhere, they took more drastic action.
Civil disobedience followed, in which ordinary South Africans showed their objection to the government by deliberately, publicly and collectively refusing to obey the laws of the country.
And when that didn’t sway the government from its oppressive attitude, South Africans took up arms against the government, forming, amongst other military organisations, Umkhonto we Sizwe – the military wing of the ANC.
Throughout the struggle against apartheid, South Africans of integrity appealed to the international community for support in opposing the government. And the international community responded by taking measures against South Africa, including economic and sporting sanctions.
South Africans can be duly proud of the commitment they showed in opposing the apartheid government.
What I would like to know is this: where is that opposition to corruption in South Africa today? Why do South Africans accept the ANC government as it is, with Zuma at the helm? Is the situation not comparable to that under apartheid?
Zuma and the ANC are not interested in the welfare of South Africa’s citizens. Zuma himself is after power and wealth, which he is gaining in abundance. The ANC of today is not even vaguely related to the organisation that so embodied the struggle against apartheid. The present-day ANC is an unthinking, unprincipled organisation that simply follows the whims of the biggest bully in the playground – presently Zuma.
So why are we, the citizens of South Africa, putting up with Zuma and the ANC? We don’t have to. We can vote them out. If they refuse to go, we can stand together to remove them from power, with the assistance of the international community if we simply request it. We can occupy Nkandla. We can march to Parliament every day to protest the presence of Zuma in our government. We can find a million ways to actually do something rather than just speaking about it. Remember, South Africans died in the struggle against apartheid – and a lot of them knew in advance they might die, but fought anyway. Where’s that commitment now?
Zuma and the ANC are not going to simply turn around and develop integrity. They’ve learned that they can do what they want, and the strongest opposition they will get is some angry words from the opposition parties and certain parts of the media. If criticism is the cost of power and wealth, Zuma and the ANC are more than willing to pay it.
The great political problem in South Africa is not the Zuma-led ANC government. It is the acceptance of corruption by the South African public. It is the apathy displayed by us, the citizens, every day that leads us to complain feebly but otherwise do nothing. We, the ordinary South Africans, are the problem. And if there is a solution, we must find it.