BY PAUL T SHIPALE
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma delivered his eighth State of the Nation Address on February 12, after chaos in parliament, including the signal scrambling or jamming to prevent the free flow of information, delayed it by an hour, and with all DA and EFF members no longer in the chamber.
I was interested in finding out if he will repeat what he has said at the African National Congress (ANC)’s annual January 8 statement, as part of the ANC party’s 103rd anniversary celebration in Cape Town on January 10, 2015, when he recommitted the ANC to the second phase of the democratic transition — that of radical socio-economic transformation.
According to President Zuma, the second phase of the democratic transition “represents a fundamental break with the ownership patterns of the past and the putting in place of a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it”, he said in the statement, which gives a picture of the party’s plan for the coming year. He went on to say that monopoly capital still had an unhealthy effect on the economy and also touched on the loyalty of the emerging black middle class amid concerns among the ANC leadership that the black middle class is no longer in step with the party. “The ANC members and structures must ensure that the values that inform the role and outlook of the middle class are consistent with our historic values, namely sacrifice, accountability and integrity,” he said.
Zuma’s statement seemed to mirror what was said in a viewpoint by the youthful Malusi Gigaba, an ANC NEC member and Minister of Home Affairs, when he urged the ANC to keep its eyes on the prize of radical socio-economic transformation.
Gigaba said parliament is one of the most critical public institutions, where citizens send public representatives to execute their will, solve national problems and shape the South Africa of their dreams, and therefore he sees the intentional disruption of parliamentary business as extremely serious, a dereliction of duty of the highest order, as reason becomes the loser and the mandate of the voting public gets abdicated.
Gigaba lamented the EFF, in partnership with its unlikely bedfellow the DA in a strange alliance, which seeks to use guerrilla tactics to frustrate the ANC majority. According to Gigaba, having failed to secure a majority, the EFF, for whose leadership radicalism has always been more about style than substance, has decided nihilistically to seek or steal political victory through obstruction. “The EFF wants to apply the principles of guerrilla warfare to parliamentary politics,” said Gigaba.
Gigaba further said “the DA, which gets more racist as democracy gets ensconced, and has decided this term to send as its front-benchers the most reactionary and backward bunch of young fascists, is happy to hide behind the EFF in pursuit of the same goals of retarding and negating radical socio-economic transformation. What the DA would be ashamed to do, they leave it to the EFF, but together they are joined-to-the-hip, brothers in arms, in derailing parliament and progress”.
To illustrate his point, Gigaba stated that in guerrilla, or asymmetrical warfare, a force that is outmatched in military power terms, aims to frustrate the superior force with hit-and-run attacks. It achieves success through carefully chosen, symbolic acts, and often attempts to provoke its opponent into overreaction, hopeful of eliciting sympathy from the populace.
For Gigaba, this has clearly been the EFF’s approach, and the DA – always on the lookout for a black face to lead its assault on the ANC’s majority, is only too eager to collaborate with the EFF’s tactics of using disrespectful language and gestures to establish an image of ‘too radical for parliament’ while drawing attention away from their actual policy proposals; and provocation aimed at forcing the presiding officer to remove them from proceedings in repetitive and increasingly obvious attempts at martyrdom, he charged.
Gigaba suggested that the ANC adopts tactically a proactive and measured, rather than reactive posture because in a battle of wills, if you are reacting, you are losing. According to Gigaba, the ANC must leave the strange alliance to worry about winning momentary battles – for publicity and the admiration of political analysts – while the ANC remains focused on winning the only war that matters: the National Democratic Revolution, as “it is the burden of leadership to have to focus on the quiet, thankless tasks of governing, while others have the luxury of alternately criticising or making unrealistic promises”.
Gigaba concluded his viewpoint saying an overwhelming majority of South Africans have given the ANC a mandate to bring about radical socio-economic transformation by simultaneously industrialising the economy, unlocking growth potential through infrastructure expansion, supporting labour-intensive sectors, and using state procurement strategically to support localisation and entrepreneurship.
Gigaba’s viewpoint seemed to be supported by the ultimatum delivered by the EFF leader, Julius Malema, in a letter written to the Speaker of the South African National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to convene an early special sitting of the House to allow President Zuma to conclude a question and answer session or risk the disruption of the speech of the State of the Nation Address on the 12 of February 2015, the day the EFF duped as “accountability day”.
It was the late US President John F Kennedy, in his speech delivered in Indianapolis, on April 12, 1959, who said: “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognise the opportunity.” The ANC and President Zuma had the opportunity to rise to the occasion and give direction in this regard, as they did about corruption, factionalism and the land issue but they did not.
I am certainly not comfortable with the manner in which the South African parliament appears to be in disarray. I just hope that we in Namibia do not copy such examples.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper but solely reflect my personal views as a citizen.