SA has lost its way

The new South African flag.
The new South African flag.
Image: Gallo Images

The unguided national detour our country is traversing should be a cause for concern for its citizens. It should be troubling for all those democrats who have fought for a non-racial and democratic SA free of all the bad tendencies that fed the apartheid ideology.

The freedom fighters and democracy-loving people of this country from the ANC, PAC and BCM, those who died in the trenches of the liberation struggle, wanted to ensure that racism, mobilised hate and corruption had no place in the new SA.

It is a cause for concern for the law-abiding citizens of this country that SA, rather than becoming a society that cares, has retrogressed into becoming violent, corrupt, tribalistic and racist.

• Is this not the antithesis of the bitter struggles waged by the people of this country against the very same tendencies under the racist Pretoria regime?

• What has gone wrong to awaken the beast of mobilised hate, corruption, tribalism and racism?

• Why have we allowed these tendencies to rear their ugly heads in the body politic of SA?

• Have we degenerated into a weak state that is unable to fulfil its constitutional obligation on behalf of its citizens?

• Is the agenda of building a non-racial, democratic and non-sexist country becoming a pipe dream, only to be read in the constitution of the Republic and policy documents of political parties?

• Have we forgotten what it means to be a caring and peace-loving society?

• Have we forgotten what it means to put the country first rather than being neo-patrimonial and nepotistic?

I draw lessons from the revolutionaries of the past, who despite the violent oppression by the erstwhile regimes never wavered and sacrificed the cause of our people for narrow and selfish interests. I refuse to let the “dead bury the dead”,  as warned by Karl Marx, because circumstances are forcing us to use wisdom passed to us by the generations before us that “SA belongs to all who live in it” irrespective of race, creed or colour.

The warning by Marx may be scientific and true. However, in the context of the challenges confronting the country and the world in general, I refuse to heed this call.

My refusal is premised on the fact that 18th- to 20th-century revolutionaries were humanistic and selfless in their critique of the social order that existed. It is unfortunate that the revolutionaries of the 21st century who are leading in most of the organisations that are supposed to be driving social change and development in this country, have become self-centred, corrupt, tribal, racist, sexist and some have become proxies of corrupt syndicates inside and outside government institutions.

The membership of the organisations responsible for social change and development, are drawn from a society that values material wealth more than the wellbeing of fellow human-beings.

The value system of SA society has become so “Americanised”, to the extent that it perpetuates a greedy and callous neglect of the underclass and working class. They are using these to gain closer proximity to the patronage networks and corrupt syndicates that have developed over a number of years.

What is to be done?

There are certain institutions that have failed society in general, namely the family, the education system, the church, the state and the Fourth Estate (media). These institutions, if broken and not reinforcing one another, will fail to prevent our country breeding all the negative tendencies that fed the racist minority regime and subjected our people to untold misery and suffering.

To fix this broken superstructure of society, we need creative and bold leadership at all levels of our society who will stand up and mobilise society against the patronage networks and syndicates that have become a curse to the future of children.

The state as protector of human rights, an instrument in the hands of people, must not be held ransom by these patronage networks and syndicates. The state must protect its citizens. The state must root out these patronage networks if it is to succeed in building a caring society.

The state has enormous powers and responsible organs to use to gather intelligence and force to protect its citizens. The state has a responsibility to address the social grievances and will only be able to do that once responsible and accountable governance is restored in our institutions at all levels.

The private sector must be supported by the state to achieve what it is meant to do by ensuring that there is policy certainty, cost of doing business is lowered and all bureaucratic red-tape issues are addressed.

Lutho Nduvane is director of trade and investments, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, and a member of the ANC in ward 2. He writes in his personal capacity.