Friday, February 13, 2015

My SONA Reflections

It was actually about leadership tonight.
Our country is in a crisis, and the question is, who will raise their hands to lead the way - to steer the ship? Of course, you are correct to point is that there were a few hands raised tonight at what was promised to be the State of the Nation (SONA) address. But my question remains - who will raise their hands to lead the way?

Whilst, I am encouraged by the EFF for cutting to the chase and the fog of parliamentary niceties. They are well-trained in the art of cashing in on opportunities - the EFF is not simply playing around or acting on emotion, as some would think. One need to give them credit for their ability to catch the eye and play the role of the voices of the masses. They know that symbolism and public display of militancy is the language that the masses understand. Look at the way communities are fighting their way through to the attention of local municipalities. And remember, most of them come from the ANC Youth League! One however has to remember that, taking on this kind of collective persona comes with a price. Whether they would like to hear this or not, Andile Mngxitama's vilification and violent gagging will come to haunt them. This kind of internal messiness is however part of a collective who consciously wants to be "revolutionary". Further, given the fact that many of them remains, deeply influenced by the ANC's political culture of materialism and no tolerance for dissent, the question is for how long they will be able to uphold the facade of a deep solidarity with the working class, the masses. Tonight however, they did raise their hands as the champions of the masses - unafraid of the power of the ANC elites, they kept on insisting to be heard. Also, they did their home-work. Baleka Mbete was out of her depth when they cited the different rules from the book. The violent clashes with security and banning were part of the plan, from the beginning. They want to stir things out in the streets. Whether this political strategy will take us beyond what we had the last 300 years is of course, another question.

But then there was also the DA's parliamentary leader, the honourable Mr Maimane. I was impressed with his leadership. First he led the battle against the jamming of mobile devices and then picking up the opportunity when it surfaced that the police was part of the squad protecting the king. By the way who amongst the inner-circle of Zuma thought of this tactic of jamming the signals of mobile devises? Of course, the intention was to censure what was about to happen, because they anticipated an ugly (violent) confrontation. Back to Maimane. One should give him credit for leading these two battles. It unsettled Mbete and paved the way for what was to come. And they won those rounds!
In a sense, it was here that I felt that Maimane came out more ... what is the word that I am looking for .... presidential, then Malema. At least this is my impression from this event. One the other hand, however, I'm still not yet convinced that he is speaking and thinking for himself. Let's leave the rhetoric of "collective leadership" and "synergy" aside for now - we need leaders who are thinkers, strategically and tactically, they lead their troops on different (unforeseen) terrains as they battle. Further, whilst the DA comes with key expertise and a wealth of political and economic experience, they have not yet convinced the "masses", that they carry their dreams on their hearts. Maimane remains to be seen as some-one who is controlled from some-where else, perhaps the ones (in the dark) who holds the purse. Only time will tell.

This leaves me with Msholozi. I don't know what to say really. This character was there to behold the whole fracas and yet he walks up to the podium, stoically and cracks a joke. One the one hand, he didn't show any remorse for his (alleged) complicity in this (he cannot see anything wrong in it), on the other hand, even at a symbolic level, he didn't even say something presidential like,  "Friends, what we have seen tonight is a tragedy, the tragic consequence of political leadership gone awry - but that should not derail us, we are here to work" Or something like this .... It was as if he was not there; he didn't feel the depth of dismay at the way the sacred institution of parliament was damaged, on a symbolic level; he simply couldn't soak in the emotion of a nation and tell us that everything will be fine.
Of course, there is reason for his alienation - he caused this mess. What is worse, he is not willing to own up to this. Sadly, this is where I have to leave it. This is what we have. The less I say about Mbete or "die kwaai skooljuffrou"[the harsh schoolteacher], Thandi Modise, the better. They were not prepared to be able to respond to what EFF and the DA was presenting to them - there was no wisdom, no compassion shown. And then, because they knew they had the strong men ready, they sent in the thugs to "clean" out the house. That was weak. It reminds me of this big bully on the school-yard, who fails all his tests and then tears into us during break. It was actually so sad.

But what remains for us is to see how Malema, Maimane and Msholozi responds to the current crisis. My cards, I will keep close to my chest, but who knows, maybe we might be surprised with the turn of events, or (over the long haul) how things will unfold ... it remains a long walk ...  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The State of our Nation.

The State of the Nation address is on every-one's lips. Whether we will be able to listen to it - or understand it, is another question. But let's not be nasty. Most commentators and "religious leaders" want us to be nice today. The "religious leaders" even prayed against, the "spirit of division" in parliament.

I'm not so sure that Juju and his red brigade, understand, or want to understand these niceties. For them, it is an opportunity to grab the attention of the media. After all, all publicity is good publicity.
However, one need to ask the question what would be the best way to serve the interest of poor communities. Would it serve the interests and change the desperate situations of communities, terrorized by violent gangs and viscous druglords, or who don't have any source of income, communities who have been left behind, due to incompetent local government officials, that we also put on our red overalls and shout (with everything in us), "PAY BACK THE MONEY, PAY BACK THE MONEY!!!" (or any other appropriate slogan)?

I wonder. It seems to me that even Juju and his clones, have not yet convinced me that they would be able to develop the kind of engineers, town planners, architects or financial planners, etc. to run and make this country (all our communities) thrive. We don't need more political theatrics, or a new mob of looters - what our communities need is leadership, the ability to drive and implement a vision to pull together the finest, toughest and sharpest minds, in the quest to solve the most challenging of challenges that we face. This is an inspirational challenge, but also, it calls for periods of long-term silent, lonely and yes, even boring slogging, to create a sustainable future. So, at least this observer, citizen, patriot is not yet convinced that the red brigade can provide this, let alone the current lot sitting in cabinet or the state departments. 

The current state of our nation is experienced in local communities - out there in the dark; in the pit latrines, where our toddlers drown; in the bushes close to the "lollie lounge" where our young girls are raped and mutilated, in our communities where poor people turn on each other - ripping ourselves apart. These chilling realities are symptoms, which calls for a deeper, slow, albeit urgent work - not for another gang of clowns, who can sing and dance, as the only qualification to run a modern state.
I am hopeful that this country has the character and abilities to rise above the moment. We can still change things, but then the state of our nation need to be not only on our lips, but also pressing upon our hearts, and captivating our minds and hands, as we work towards the peaceful, non-racial, non-sexist nation, which our constitution dreams of. We have the state of our nation, in our hands - what are we going to do with it?