I SUPPOSE asking if we ‘are we gradually becoming a two-faced society’, is probably a rhetorical question. But, perhaps asking it anyway can somehow help us re-centre our common base as a people who come from a difficult past and boldly still advocate for a non-racial and equal society through various means, as an absolute possibility for our future.
We are all aware that a non-racial and equal society is not yet the current truth, at least not entirely. Although we have promising shades that can help us continue to strengthen efforts in this regard, at least not entirely, even over two decades into the democratic dispensation, certain segments of society still reflect mind-sets that prefer to operate on the premise of ignorance, confining us into a state of paralysis.
Living in a so called “democratic South Africa”, how is it that we are trampling on voices that hold fairly us accountable to the true fibre of what has made us who we are, voices that remind us of what we promise and moral obligation we owe our people. How is it that we easily disregard what it truly means to enjoy, tolerate and accommodate realities of what comes with a democratic state.
This notion has a lot to do with how we decide to relate to and swift certain views that emerge in the public discourse, coming from all angles, especially those brought forth by ordinary citizens holding key positions of leadership, those in governance and those holding prominent and influential roles across the spectrum. My ‘aha’ moment came about, as I was listening to an eNCA interview by Justice Malala on the Justice Factor with ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza.
In this interview, Dr Khoza boldly shared her views on air, subsequent to her social media expressions regarding activities of the #NationalDayOfAction that took place on the 7th April 2017, pushed by the recent cabinet reshuffle and the generic current state of affairs in the South African political landscape.
I want to applaud Dr Khosa on deciding to be true to herself and voice her opinion beyond the ANC structures, in her Facebook post she mentions warning against the danger of complacency and ignorance, the very elements that many dismiss, yet they continue being the carcass that spoils the atmosphere of a home majority of South Africans had come to enjoy from 1994, prior to the recent variety in political parties.
There is no doubt in saying she was brave, and bold in clearly positioning her views as an individual, on a personal platform. I still don’t believe it was wise or even correct for the ANC to speak down and want to silence and /or disregard any persons affiliated with them for speaking against the wrong happening that very often discourages majority of its loyal members.
As an African child brought up by a community of elders in a township set-up, I am aware of the notion that in public a family member defends you but back in the house they give you real hard time. However, it is a different case if questionable behaviour is already known even by the enemies, and has already messed homes of others, you might reprimand lightly in public, even if you know that behind closed doors, you will not leave any stone unturned.
This principle does not, however, apply in every case. As much as any organization would not prefer to have its dirty laundry out there, it is equally crucial to have members within that organization who don’t conform to the system. In youth dialect many would say, it’s crucial to have members who ‘don’t suck up, and silence themselves, chickening out’ because if this is the case then everyone is headed towards a pit.
Any good friend should love you enough to let you know when you are messing up, and not being sensitive to the cries and needs of the people. It is imperative for a society to be critical of the pillars that uphold its leadership, especially in democracy; society that is becoming selective in digesting the true nature of what has shaped us as a people.
It is not proper for a society that has recently just came out of oppression, become a society that only recognizes the role of women only after we have been corrected and reminded of the part they played in the socioeconomic emancipation of the of the overall society. Very often than not, we thrive on negative stories and derive substantial strength from dehumanizing others.
It’s almost as if, doing wrong is now the new right, and doing right is the new boring. We can’t let our conscience die just like that under our watch. We need to be brave enough to withstand criticism, public or private. We should be a nation that is able to accommodate the views of others, even if they do not align with ours, we cannot silence people, and we certainly cannot have leadership at the forefront of leading a nation, but being a catalyst to why individuals do not have a voice.
That goes against everything that has built who we are as the ANC. Leadership is bold, it’s fearless and it certainly does not ignore cries of the society. Many are wondering what will happen to all those who speak out, ‘so to say’, why should this even be a concern? There should be a safe space for all members of society and those within various political parties to take a stance, especially if that stance is in line with concerns of ordinary citizens.
In my simple books, anyone who stands for truth gets an A+, and in this regard, I am proud of Dr Khoza and her bold nature of merely just having a voice and using it. Hiding the truth will not help anyone, and it certainly will not help our country. For a people who fought long and hard to gain this freedom, we should be embarrassed when we are seen to be failing in upholding its integrity and addressing concerns of the people.
Any leadership that disregards and ignores its people is a spineless leadership. We should not abuse the loyalty and true belief in the movement people align to. Remember, to own power simply means to serve. Leadership should be at the service of the people. We need more Dr Khoza’s in the ANC and in the South Africa. Never sit in the presence of rot and keep quiet.
Tambo, Luthuli, Sisulu, Hani, Biko and Mandela would definitely not. If they inspire us then, it is our duty to walk on their footsteps and do right by the people, and our members who choose to speak out on Facebook, especially because structures in place are as good as dead.
Jabulile Buthelezi is an author and social activist.