South Africans are yet to see what is meant by a political solution to a legal problem in this case, writes Vusumzi Vusie Mba
The recent incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma, who was the ANC president for ten years and the president of the Republic of South Africa for nine years, has sparked the debate of a political solution to a legal problem. A very interesting and strange debate in the public discourse.
South Africans are yet to see what is meant by a political solution to a legal problem in this case. It is very sad because this has the potential of upsetting the democratic principle of the division of the three arms of state: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Should we allow political dynamics to trample the independence of the judiciary?
The debate is informed by the recent chaos that erupted after the incarceration of former President Zuma, who defied an order of the Constitutional Court to appear before the State Capture Commission, presided over by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Ironically, this commission was established by the regime of former President Zuma.
The advocates of the legal solution claim that the chaos is a revolutionary act by the masses for justice to take place. They claim that the legal system was unjust towards the former president and used as a political weapon to destroy all the proponents of Radical Economic Transformation (RET).
Therefore, the discussion for a political solution to a legal problem needs serious consideration. Who does it apply to? Will it apply to members of other political parties who are languishing in jail today based on political reasons?
Does it also apply to student activists who are languishing in jail and those who have criminal records for fighting for free education? Are we suggesting that the legal system was just to them? Was it just to Andile Lungisa, Tony Yengeni, Mcebo Dlamini and others? Why must Zuma be treated differently?
The merits and demerits of the case are within the tunnels of law. They are best left to the legal experts to decipher. As concerned members of the public, we should wrestle with non-legal issues and general facts on the matter.
Since former President Zuma’s incarceration, there were calls to render the country ungovernable and chaotic. This has exposed the weaknesses and shortcomings of the ANC government in addressing both the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.
It reminded us that the majority of South Africans still live in abject poverty and unemployment is at its all-time high. When it comes to inequality South Africa ranks high with a Gini quotient of +0.6.
This is a good reminder to the ANC government that, the structural arrangement of colonialism and apartheid still continues to exist even after the apartheid era.
The current crisis reminds us that the majority of South Africans are frustrated and angered by the status quo and this is an opportunity for the ruling ANC to conduct an introspection and ask themselves the following: Is the gullibility of the people caused by their poverty or the criminal element has crept in?
Is the destruction of property, looting of shops irrespective of who the owners are, a manifestation of the frustration and anger by the masses of our people directed towards the leadership for failing to decisively address poverty and unemployment? Is sending soldiers with guns to address a socio-economic question an answer?
As Thomas Sankara once observed, “a soldier without political training and revolutionary theory is a potential criminal”. Are the types of soldiers that should be deployed by the ANC to address the current crisis engulfing our country? Should the ANC government not deploy a different calibre of soldiers who have not lost their ability to properly use the tools of analysis to give proper context to societal challenges?
Where are these soldiers metaphorically speaking? They are available but busy discussing tenders and other ways of enriching themselves. Where has the ANC as a movement of the people and leader of society gone wrong? It should not only be the government that answers but the leader of society because society is on the brink of a civil war.
Where there is a leadership crisis, there is a leadership vacuum, and when a vacuum exists political charlatans without revolutionary theory occupy the space and unleash violence, destruction of property, disruption of economic activities and looting.
President Cyril Ramaphosa categorised the chaos as having an element of ethnic mobilization. He admitted that the current crisis is a product of the failure to address the socio-economic conditions of the country.
The latter is an admission by the president that a radical approach to the economic conditions of our people is urgently needed before this country is turned into ashes.
This radical approach means that a decisive political leadership that will bring about radical policy shifts is urgently needed to transform the lives of black people and African people in particular.
This radical policy shift means creating an economy where the majority will meaningfully participate and move away from the status quo which benefits a small group of black elites with close links to the ruling party.
Having noted the above the destruction of property and looting cannot be justified as it defeats the very purpose of radical economic transformation. It is not the answer to the problems that beset us as a country, moreover, doing so along ethnic lines further polarises our people and reverses the important gains achieved since the advent of democracy.
There is no denying that the current crisis in our country is perpetuated by the internal differences within the ANC which are not ideological at all but seeking to promote a particular narrative of Zuma being a demigod.
There is also no denying the fact that the values underpinning our democracy are under attack and need patriots to guard them jealously.
The crisis regresses the noble aim of achieving social cohesion in this country. Indeed, the rainbow of our nation is not intact as it is usually claimed to be by others.
It might be an accident of history that the chaos started in black communities, but we must ask ourselves why South African politics are still centred around ethnic lines, race and regionalism?
Maybe we must also begin to ask ourselves who are these chaotic people, where are they and why is it so easy to mobilize them to cause chaos?
Colonialism and apartheid divided us according to ethnic groups and dispossessed the natives into reserves of cheap labour and unemployment. It created the homeland system and hostels all over the country.
These are reservoirs of subtle and quiet chaos and poverty. The chaos is a product of colonialism and apartheid that the ANC government has failed to address for close to three decades.
It is very unfortunate that some have identified the reserves as weapons to fight their comprador bourgeoisie battles instead of assisting the people to develop socio-economically.
What we have seen over the past few days is a shocking and embarrassing historical moment. A very painful situation of the comprador bourgeoisie using the proletariats to fight their own comprador battles. A moment that will haunt the ANC for some time if not forever.
Perhaps the ANC needs to take stock of the wise words of Amilcar Cabral, who argued that “people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head.
They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward and to guarantee the future of their children” and the ANC’s failure to address these very fundamental problems as cited by Cabral will render it redundant and irrelevant thereby losing its status as the leader of society and will subject it to political oblivion.
- Vusumzi ‘Vusie’ Mba is a researcher for the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders. He write in his personal capacities.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Republic Mail and its associates.