Getting a call from my political role model, praising me with these words, “Kwedini uyayithetha into yenzeke”[Young man, the things you’ve said have become true], was the most humbling experience in the current depressing political environment for me.
The words were uttered by a man I had looked up to throughout my early days of schooling in the intricacies of our national politics.
He was a man who at times I wished I could imitate – his walk, his mannerisms and the way he talked. He was and still is one of those ANC people who personified what the ANC was and stood for.
He epitomised the kind of leadership the ANC canvassed for during the liberation struggle, a leadership you could trust, in any given circumstances.
He was referring to a conversation I had with him when I decided to turn my back on the Polokwane-crafted ANC in 2008. However, after the election of Jacob Zuma at Polokwane, nearly 10 years ago, we parted ways, in our thinking about both the country and ANC’s future.
He was adamant about my stubbornness, though he told me he admired it at times, but warned me that at certain times it could be “self-destructive”. His point was that I was crediting Zuma far too much, much more than he deserved.
According to him, “there was no way that Zuma or any individual will derail the ANC from its historical mission”. He then concluded with the known ANC mantra that the “ANC self-corrects”.
I concluded that conversation by saying, “my leader, I differ with you on this; however, I just hope that my own prediction will be proven wrong this time”.
I was happy that this senior leader called me to confess that I was dead right in my prediction of a Zuma presidency.
I was equally, even more, pleased to note that he also remembered my final words, “I just hope that my prediction will be proven wrong this time”. Indeed, for the first time in my life, I wanted to be wrong in my prediction. I wanted to be wrong for selfish reasons on the whole. I wanted to be wrong because I did not want to live in a lawless, corrupt and bankrupt society.
My prediction was that under Zuma, our solid state institutions would be compromised and rendered useless.
It was my view that he was going to go for the criminal justice system, the Chapter 9 institutions and all the facets of good governance, across the board.
I predicted that South Africa would end up being a failed state during his leadership tenure.
My senior leader’s call was prompted by the lawlessness in the country. He told me about political killings in KwaZulu-Natal, the reign of terror in the drug ganglands, where on average 12 innocent men, women and children lose their lives every weekend.
He spoke about the fact that all his children and grandchildren are idling at home. Prospects of getting a job are diminishing daily right in front of his eyes.
The only source of income in his household is the special pension grant he gets for having been in the struggle from the early 1960s.
The man told me that his greatest nightmare is the day he dies. According to him, there would be no more payouts from the special pension grant.
The other source of income is the child grant for four grandchildren, which he deemed to be insufficient to feed the household of 11.
The thing that hurts him the most is the escalating political chaos, such as the disruption of the memorial lecture of ANC stalwart, Rivonia triallist and Nelson Mandela’s prison mate, Ahmed Kathrada, by the ANC Youth League of KwaZulu-Natal last month.
He called the deed and the silence of the ANC’s top leadership “political blasphemy”.
The seasoned politician lamented, “gone are the days when the leadership of the movement was a beacon of political and social morality”.
When he spoke about the leadership, there was a cracking and shaking in his voice as he spoke of men and women he revered.
“How would history judge us on such treasonous behaviour?”
The deed of desecrating the good name and deeds of men (“we worshipped the soil they walked on”) traumatised him, the frustrated and badly disappointed leader of the erstwhile glorious movement concluded his rant to me about the sorry state that the ANC has degenerated into.
This time around, mine was just to listen and absorb the impact of the foolish decision of electing a person who had so many flaws that it was obvious even to the casual observer that South Africa was going to land up in a crisis – an unprecedented state of failure.
When it comes to the post-Polokwane ANC, one can only describe what is happening in that once glorious and proud movement of the people as a sensational national shame.
Who would have thought that working people could stop a leader of the ANC from addressing a national gathering, instead calling for his resignation?
At this juncture we can only hope that those in the ANC, who are not as yet captured, corrupted or who have no smalanyana skeletons would stand up, raise their hands and be counted for the salvation of our wealth, country and people.