Monday, 25 February 2008

This is really democracy in action ....

A friend asked me how I felt about what is now happening in South Africa. I expressed my reservations about the new leadership of the ANC. Not only the president but the entire NEC. He reminded of one thing. The ANC rank and file were unhappy with the government’s delivery record - the failure to deal with crime, HIV Aids, the Zimbabwe policy and the failure to make major inroads into the alleviation of poverty.

While the black middle class are living the high life, for many there is not end in sight to poverty and the daily struggle for survival.

The ANC membership had taken the democratic option. Unhappy with government delivery, they removed the leadership and replaced it with an alternative. He pointed out that that is democracy in action.

Unfortunately democracy does not always deliver an ideal solution. The new president of the ANC - Jacob Zuma - faces a long string of charges of corruption, racketeering and fraud. He is actively trying to suppress the evidence that is available to the National Prosecuting Authority. Perhaps that is is only hope for a defence.

Last week, the Black Journalists Forum hosted a lunch at which Jacob Zuma was the guest of honour. Invitations were extended to everyone with press credentials – unless they were white. Speaking on 702 Talk Radio, Mo Shaik - Jacob’s strategy advisor and brother of the more famous Shabir – claimed that Zuma had no prior knowledge of the exclusionary nature of the event. Zuma himself later said that since he had had nothing to do with the organisation of the event, it didn’t really concern him.

No white reporters were allowed to enter, and a number of distinguished black journalists walked out of the forum in protest. They left to the derisive call of “Coconuts”. The preceding evening a vigorous radio call-in debate took place on this issue. Calls included many black people very upset at the turn of events.

In an attempt to regenerate the moral fibre of the country, a 12 point Bill of Responsibilities - endorsed by Thabo Mbeki, is to be taught in all schools as part of the Life Orientation programme. The bill is the brainchild of Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein. The aim is to instil a sense of morality and responsibility in the youth of the country to accompany the bill of rights.

Education Minister Naledi Pando also unveiled a proposed pledge to be recited daily at all schools.

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