While many laud the resilience of our constitutional structures, the current earthquake in our country cannot be ignored. Seismic pressures are threatening South African society, writes Lorenzo A Davids. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency
While many laud the resilience of our constitutional structures, the current earthquake in our country cannot be ignored. Seismic pressures are threatening South African society, writes Lorenzo A Davids. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency

Don’t glory in imprisonment; address the earthquake

By Lorenzo A Davids Time of article published Jul 12, 2021

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There is a deep sadness in me as I write this. I am physically upset at the violence erupting in KwaZulu-Natal. I find no satisfaction in the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma. I am not celebrating the lampooning of Dali Mpofu’s legal skills.

A burning truck, a crushing legal victory or the insides of a prison wall does nothing to change the fundamental reality that we are in a crisis of mission in South Africa. While many laud the resilience of our constitutional structures, the current earthquake in our country cannot be ignored. Seismic pressures are threatening South African society.

This earthquake is centred on our crisis of mission.

What kind of society do we want to live in? What does a respectful, safe, just, equitable, inclusive and prosperous South Africa look like? What do these words mean to unemployed people, sick people, hungry people and people who live with violence and conditions akin to a state of war?

The state of poverty, unemployment and violence in our country results from a growing disconnect between politicians and people. The people who in 1976 did not fear the most powerful army on the African continent, currently find cold comfort in the most advanced Constitution in the world.

The people find it incomprehensible that their politicians can govern with enormous wealth, privilege and power and at the same time do very little to address the poverty, unemployment and violence that their people live with. This is the crisis of mission in South Africa.

Why are school toilets not built, but new cars are bought for ministers?

Why is the violence in our society not addressed but new uniforms are considered for the army? Why are food security and employment not major government programmes but renovations to parliamentarians' homes are on the agenda?

A government that understands its mission would not be spending a cent more on the comforts of its politicians for the next five years. Instead, it would reaffirm its mission to build a respectful, safe, just, equitable, inclusive and prosperous society for its people.

We can set up commissions and jail all our corrupt politicians and their associates, but it won’t get us any closer to addressing the earthquake that is happening in our society. If people cannot see that their political leaders are prioritising missional issues such as fair access to income generation, adequate housing, employment for all and equitable land ownership, they will eventually destroy the constitutional republic, as they destroyed Africa's most securitised state in the 1980s.

We may laud the bravery of Justice Khampepe or the legal prowess of Advocate Ngcukaitobi, but we should not ignore the earthquake of poverty and violence that people are living with. That poverty and violence have now touched all classes and cultures of our society.

While the Zuma government siphoned off billions of rand to their cronies and brought our country’s infrastructure to its knees, the current government is governing on fast-evaporating euphoria, with little to show in terms of addressing violence, eliminating poverty and equitable access to the economy and land.

How do we re-establish the mission of our nation? This absence of mission is where the current sadness within our democracy is born from. We need politicians who have the skills to address the earthquake, not glory in the imprisonment.

This week history recalls that on July 13, 1984, the last all-white parliament in South Africa sat for the last time. The August 1984 general election introduced the perverted tri-Cameral parliamentary system, which excluded the majority African black people of this country.

The Nationalist Party thought that by co-opting coloureds and indians, they would fortify their own existence. The nightmare lasted 10 years and fell. The current president would do well to learn from history. Doing what is constitutionally correct does not protect the governing party from the consequences of ignoring the earthquake that is occurring in our society.

* Lorenzo A Davids.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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