Mangaung: the next stop
South Africa has broken into a marathon.
As she wanders further along the N1 Highway, closer to the Mangaung District, there’s music accompanying her journey - songs fill the air. There’s a beat with every turn she takes; some are sounds of ululating, carrying messages of courage and support, whilst others are distinct melodies signalling danger, conveying warnings of trouble ahead. With her soundtrack she also takes with her voices from the past.
The ‘talking heads’ who form part of the country’s soundtrack, include well-known political analyst and former President Thabo Mbeki’s brother Moeletsi Mbeki, who’s often said to have been one of his older brother’s harshest critics. He’s also never come out in support of his brother’s successor.
Then there’s The Midrand Group, an apolitical grouping that’s fast gaining momentum in mainstream media. Songezo Zibi and Muzkisi Qobo are among a group of individuals drawn together by shared values and philosophies.
The final person, featured among the ‘talking heads’, is Lebogang Pheko. If you don’t know her for some of her radical views, you might remember her as the lady who set off the Afrikaner Weerstands Beweging’s André Visagie in the infamous ‘Don’t touch me on my studio’ incident.
As with all analysts, they hold some shared views, and this group certainly does when it comes to South Africa and the ruling party.
What do they say?
* There will be no change in South Africa after Mangaung - most of these analysts believe there will be no radical leadership or policy shifts undertaken in the ANC’s December conference.
* South Africa has hit crisis mode – they all refer to the state of education and economy as prime examples of how the ruling party has let down the people who voted it into power and hasn’t delivered on all the promises it made.
* This country’s not a true democracy - Moeletsi Mbeki says, “We have persuaded ourselves into believing we are, but all you have to do is look at our elective system. President Zuma’s never explained to me why he deserves to be our president.”
* The ANC is most likely to feel the effects of their actions in the next national elections - Zibi believes people will be more discerning when it comes to the 2014 elections, as a direct result of how people feel about the way the ruling party has been operating over recent years. “We could see deliberate absenteeism from elections. There’ll definitely be a slight shift from the ANC.”
* People are weary of the blurred lines between the state and the ruling party - “This murky marriage between the state and the judiciary and this keenness of state to interfere with the judiciary is extremely troubling,” Pheko observes.
* The ANC is a transitional government – Qobo, having his roots firmly placed in political studies and analysis, goes as far as saying it’s a party that will implode. “It’s really just a matter of time.”
Leadership really could be discussed for hours on end.
South Africa is now characterised by an ousted rogue youth leader and the Marikana shooting, which sparked numerous other protests countrywide. These protests have exposed the country’s mining sector, which many believe is structured solely to serve the interests of the rich and none of the small impoverished communities serving the mines. The Limpopo textbook saga is another example of an issue that has left the ‘rainbow nation’ reeling.
Most of these analysts don’t believe it’s a lack of leadership but a question of the type of decisions undertaken by the leaders. “Before, we looked at the brand of leadership and never assumed anything could go wrong, but today it’s a different story,” Qobo laments.
Pheko, who’s set in her views, points out that the problem lies with the fact that it’s usually a battle of personalities and not policies.
For these four analysts, the current government is going to gather in Mangaung for a few days and leave there without making any decisions that will reduce the levels of corruption that people have been seeing. As Mbeki puts it, “You can’t separate the ANC from corruption. BEE’s legislated by government, which resulted in the birth of tenderprenuership, thus the BEE tycoons and politicians who pamper themselves with taxpayers’ money”.
Click on the link below to track the path towards Mangaung: