I’M NOT sure whether to bow before and praise the genius of the dreaded Bell Pottinger PR firm, or to be merely angered by it.
But one thing is for certain: the PR firm has delivered magnificently on the mandate it was hired for. By the time clever South Africa woke up to the mess Bell Pottinger was hired to unleash on the unsuspecting country, it was too late.
The Pottingers had already planted their seeds of racial hatred and division and, seemingly aided by their sly, kleptomaniac clients, also managed to recruit sufficient numbers of pawns around the country; enablers whose role would be to ensure that the divisive propaganda is injected deep into as many vulnerable communities as possible.
The collective Zupta crowd and its communities of hangers-on, defenders and sycophants must be delighted by the results.
How else does one explain what is going on in South Africa when, despite a growing avalanche of documents and emails showing the extent of wrongdoing against our national interests and the viability of our fledgling democracy, heavyweights in the ruling party fail to convince sufficiently large numbers of party followers that something horrible is going wrong?
No one seems to be listening to the few who have come out. They’re regarded as stalwarts and elders, noble terms bereft of substance when the country needs their intervention.
So why are Ramaphosa et al not speaking out?
Take Cyril Ramaphosa, for instance; this man led Nelson Mandela and the ANC’s negotiating team during the multi-party discussions to formally end apartheid and establish a new democracy. But even he has failed to seize the opportunity to remind the growing number of latter-day revisionists of where we come from, and what would have happened had South Africans failed to meet one another in the middle in the early 1990s.
Because of the role he played during those negotiations, Ramaphosa should be speaking out against the growing chorus of those who believe the ANC could have imposed the principle of ‘winner takes all’ during the negotiations.
He has a historic responsibility to remind them that a lot was at stake, that the Nelson Mandela-led ANC did not give much more than it should have, under the circumstances at the time and given the odds. Every party gave up something and took away less than it had hoped for.
Failure to act by Ramaphosa can only amount to cowardice, as it allows revisionists to think they are right when they’re not. All of South Africa won when it came together to prevent an almost certain civil war that would have ended with hundreds of thousands of deaths and a damaged country.
Out of those multi-party negotiations came a constitution, bill of rights and Chapter 9 institutions aimed at safeguarding the constitutional democracy we should cherish.
But there are also provisions allowing for democratic amendments to any aspect of the Constitution, provided the right processes are followed and enough votes are garnered in the National Assembly by those who would like to propose changes.
What are we to do in the absence of voices of reason amid the ongoing madness? Where are the men and women who played central roles in helping South Africa avoid a bloodbath in the early 1990s when the country needs them the most?
For those still in active politics, what have they got to gain, individually and collectively, or what is being held against them to prevent them from going beyond speaking out – in the case of those who have been doing so – to rallying bigger numbers of ANC followers to protect South Africa from being brought down to its knees, institutionally and economically?
The wound is festering
Right now, with Bell Pottinger having walked away with millions of rand in fees, we’re left pitted against one another, brother against brother, sister against sister, community against community and everything else in between.
The spectre of white monopoly capital as defined by its current pushers refuses to leave us. The seed has been planted at the core of our public discourse and it will require a lot of level-headedness and emotional intelligence to uproot without destroying the links that bind us as a nation.
It’s no longer certain whether those who defend the ongoing looting of our state coffers – what I call ‘the ship that is busy sinking’ – and justifying this by pointing fingers at possible apartheid-era commercial crimes – ‘the ship that has already sunk’ – are being serious, cynical, or just delivering on their part of the deal with master state capturers.
All creditability in people currently occupying leadership positions has been eroded. Their priorities are no longer those of our country. It’s not even certain any more that the ruling party still makes the decisions that bind our country and its institutions.
The official ANC no longer plays a role in appointing the Cabinet, boards of state-owned entities and their executives. Going by the leaked emails, such decisions have been taken elsewhere for a number of years now, while the party has been reduced to running around drafting and issuing futile and contradictory media statements from the back foot; threatening to take action after action with no concrete results.
Blacks still vulnerable to emotional hijack
It is criminal for anyone to abuse their position of power to use our national weaknesses to destroy project South Africa. The understandable fear of and rage against racism by black South Africans should never be underestimated.
Many would prefer a thieving political elite to one that gets portrayed as being nostalgic towards the horrible apartheid past. Because the wounds of apartheid remain fresh in the minds of many people, and the pain as heavy as if it was inflicted yesterday, many black South Africans remain vulnerable to emotional hijack by anyone who will use the possible return of the spectre of apartheid, or the perception that beneficiaries of apartheid got away with too much, to gain their unquestioning support.
On the other hand, the seeming failure by some white South Africans to appreciate and show empathy to their fellow black South Africans will make it hard for a party such as the DA to make the lasting inroads it seeks into the minds, hearts and souls of black South Africans.
There is work to be done in order to bring and keep our nation together but it needs credible, emotionally intelligent leadership -something South Africa clearly lacks. Our democracy is bleeding.