FORTY years ago, a small group of young people arrived at an amazing insight: the most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.
By persuading black people they could not aspire to be the best, the apartheid regime held in check any threat from the majority. For a brief time, the new idea of psychological liberation burned bright and ignited hope where there was hopelessness, until the flame was extinguished in a brutal crackdown, including the murder of Steve Biko.
Through the entire apartheid era, hope was never entirely extinguished – even at the darkest times. Sharpeville, banning of the liberation movements, the suppression of black consciousness – there was always a tiny glimmer of light, the hope that someday, somehow, liberation would be achieved. Today, the ANC tells us liberation has been achieved. Yet, somehow, black South Africans are still expected to set their sights low and tolerate mediocrity and incompetence. We talk too much about Nkandla.
The ANC is trying to spin this that they are actually doing okay; Nkandla is just one glitch we should forgive.
Nkandla is not an isolated glitch. Last financial year the ANC government lost R33-billion to waste and corruption.
That is over R90-million per day, or an Nkandla every three days. Nkandla is not a glitch, let alone an isolated glitch. It is the ANC’s normal way of doing business.
Unlike under apartheid, where there was always a glimmer of hope, the ANC wants us to believe that it is normal if you are poor and black that you live in a trash heap, that your water supply fails, that your RDP house falls apart and that you cannot aspire to do better than being unemployable with a matric “pass” of 30% or 40%. In the ANC’s world, there is no hope.
We wanted liberation and this is it. The only way out is a social grant, which we are led to believe is a benefit of supporting the ANC, or the scarce treat of being rewarded for loyalty to the ANC with a government job. And that is why I turned to Agang.
Agang’s leader, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, was one of a small group who invented psychological liberation, and that is exactly what we need today.
Apartheid at least left open the hope that it could be overthrown. Let us not let the ANC get away with selling us the lie that they are all that is on offer, because that means there really is no hope.
Philip Machanick, Agang SA’s Eastern Cape spokesman and policy convenor