Thursday, April 23, 2009
Speaking truth to power: Post South Africa's 4th democratic elections
I would count it a great privilege, if I could speak to the leaders of my beloved South Africa. It would be a wondrous magical moment. I would seize the moment to speak truth to power. These 3 M’s and the big Z, I refer too are Presidents Mandela, Mbeki, Motlanthe and the projected incumbent President of the Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma.
President Nelson Mandela served South Africa in her first five years of democracy, followed by President Thabo Mbeki, who due to allegations and implication of his name in malpractice opted to step down as president, thus serving South Africa just short of a decade. President Kgalema Motlanthe has come into office since November of 2008. Motlanthe will soon be out of the office of the president as we tally up the votes of our 3rd democratic elections. As it stands the April 22nd, 2009 election results seem are pointing in the direction of the African National Congress and President Jacob Zuma.
Now, returning to speaking truth to power. I believe that prophetic voices of leaders in top level political, faith, non profit, development, and corporate sectors, must be conscientized to consciously and strive for the redemption and liberty of all our people.
Moral regeneration must be a project for people who live with their backs against the wall. Moral regeneration cannot be pimped by elite and uppity people, propelling their conservative pietism that has no social awareness for the plight of the poor and the marginalized.
While notarized people of positional and economic power must speak out and act with consciousness, leaders who remain the unsung heroes of our country must equally rise moving the masses from the bottom up to ensure that our democracy returns to being a hope for all our people, with an astute social concern.
In emotional exile missing out on being home for our 3rd democratic election, these following thoughts and remarks are what I have decided I would say to leaders of South Africa who have held the highest office in the land, and to President Jacob Zuma who will soon be the President of the Republic of South Africa.
To President Nelson Mandela:
Thank you, Tata Madiba. Thank you for being a beacon of hope to our people. Thank you for being such an exemplar of reconciliation effort and advocacy. Thank you for demonstrating at every turn grace, mercy, tolerance and acceptance, and always encouraging a united South Africa.
Thank for sacrificing your literal life, by enduring imprisonment for 27 years. Thank you for fighting for the freedom of our nation. Thank you for loving all people, and thank you for being the father of our nation. But! Why have you seized to speak in these times when our South African people are in dire need of a voice of authentic leadership?
I understand that you have fought the good fight. I realize that you gave your life to see our country free from Apartheid. But even within your life time we have created a new order of injustice, and sugar coated freedom with the window dressing of democracy. People who were poor within Apartheid for the majority they have remained poor. The democracy we have claimed and propelled is only good for people who can thrive and survive in a middle class to elite class reality.
Democracy to the hundreds and thousands of South Africans who continue to live in Apartheid constructed townships, and South Africans who live within post Apartheid “informal settlements”, continue to face harsh realities of a democracy that is a great idea- without any practical application and implications.
I ask respectfully, will you please speak again with the prophetic voice of reason that God blessed you with? Even in this hour when current African National Congress (ANC) politics has chosen to utilize you as a token voice of moral leadership, and masquerade you to monopolize votes in a competitive electoral season. Will you disband and speak out against the internal muck and mire of an ANC that is failing its people from the top structures cocooned in elitism to the bottom structures held ransom by loyalty to a political party that once was the saving grace for our people.
Honorable President Nelson Mandela will you speak once again as a voice of reason and guidance to our current and incumbent dispensation of ANC leaders?
To President Thabo Mbeki:
Thank you for your wonderful insight and great oratory skills. You brought to our nation the written consciousness of being African. Your wisdom and intellectuality has rekindled our collective memory as an African people of our Black intellectuals. You will forever be remembered for the great rhetoric and dynamic words of wisdom that you offered to our early democracy.
You took our young democracy and followed on very confidently as you came into leadership following Tata Madiba. I am grateful for your leadership and attempt at propelling the work of African Renaissance. The renaissance of our African-ness must be propelled, and I am not sure that this attempt as you spear headed translated into a national project of reclaiming our consciousness as an African people of South Africa.
But in your intellectuality there was disconnect, African consciousness was written but not displayed in delivery of intellectual ideas without practice. I am sure that this disconnect was not intended but it transpired in the rise of democracy that lost its social conscience and ability to mobilize the people’s freedom. Instead we have inherited an imported freedom, a freedom packaged and shipped to us immersed in western ideology and hegemony.
I understand your discontentment and disappointment, which lead to your stepping down. I am disheartened by the way you were treated by our ANC comrades, even in the wake of alleged discrepancies and information that points to your involvement in political sabotage of a fellow comrade. Polokwane and the historic moment which crowned Zuma the victor and president of the ANC, seems to me now a choice that placed our ANC card carrying members, and followers of the ANC between a rock and a hard place. Choice presented discomfort as our ANC was ripped into camps, but a choice was made for change.
In the light of our current day realities one could say that we are in an era of change for the sake of change, without a demand that change has meaning and purpose to enfranchise the disenfranchised. Change is not given the pre-requisite of being a positive change, a change for all the people of our land. For political change must be labored with the task to deliver economic change. Like my father would say, call me what you like but pay me my money. All people must have access to water, food, shelter, clothe and education for our children, for our future.
Why have you chosen to be silent in the current political day, where there seems to be a “Battle for the Soul of the ANC”. In some ways the ANC has been given over to the whims and fancies of politics that cannot deliver the core ideals of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society, and the liberation of Africans in particular and black people in general from political and economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor.
Will you come back to the forefront of speaking truth without the positional power? I know that you have been ridiculed and critiqued but is what you have to offer all spent, or can you live to see a new day in your political leadership, that spurs our people on in creating a just and fair South Africa for all people. Will you speak again even though your personal hurts and pains silence you to a minimized muteness?
President Thabo Mbeki in the midst of your own weakness and short comings, will you be a voice of reason and a sounding board for thought to the next season of proposed ANC candidates, and our incumbent President of the Republic.
To President Motlanthe:
Thank you for taking on the role of our interim care taker and being our President in these chaotic, troublesome, yet exciting times. You have been speaking and providing a voice of influence and advocacy of the new dispensation of candidates proposed to be the best suited to serve our people. Thank you for stepping in and holding the reigns, in what has clearly been a tumultuous time.
In my local area Lenasia it has been reported to me that you spoke about the principled leader that our nation will have in Jacob Zuma. You also addressed the youthful immaturity of Julias Malema. You mentioned that Julias requires grooming and tutelage. I respectfully question your notion of principled leadership when senior ranking officers have not silenced and discouraged, for example hate speech and rhetoric encouraging fanaticism, where people are willing to die for one person instead of remaining true to the course of freedom as propelled by the ANC.
I respectfully question the notion of youthful leadership requiring tutelage, when no such tutelage has been sought after, and no such tutelage has been offered and exercised, in the public eye. Youthful leaders like Julias and others speak out abrasively against seasoned elders such as Bishop Tutu, and no senior leadership of the ANC has reprimanded any of these younger generation of leaders.
I question leaders of the ANC when we nurture youthful bliss toward demonstrative politics, which does not push an agenda of politics for people’s liberation from political and economic bondage. Instead it is a politics of divide and conquers, only concerned with a one candidate victory even if it means the waste of a nation.
Will you remember where it is that we come from, and the struggle for freedom that was designed and intended to return power to the people? President Kgalema Motlanthe, will you speak truth and provide a sounding board for thought to President Jacob Zuma who is to be our 4th democratically elected President?
To President Jacob Zuma:
It is my hope comrade and esteemed President Jacob Zuma that you will take on the projected work of President of our beloved South Africa with a reverence and faith anchoring resolve. It is my hope that you will rise to meet the demand of a people in desperate need of a leader who will be for all people. It is my hope that you will address your short comings and claim your personal faults and acknowledge your moral and ethical failures, by ensuring people that the past will not dictate our future.
Our nation needs to know that our head of state will adhere to a standard of excellence in his conduct and practice as it relates to his personal life, which is a public matter as President. It is my hope that in your projected service of our nation you will be open to guidance and tutelage of Mandela, Mbeki, Motlanthe, and more especially the well of knowledge offered by several other seasoned leaders such as Bishop Tutu.
I believe that it would serve us well for you to bring alongside you people who are not yes boss kind of people. Instead gather people who are critical of you. It would be most dynamic if you would request of Bishop Tutu to consider being your spiritual advisor and spiritual mentor. It is of vital importance that you respond to the needs of our people who have not tasted the fruit of democracy, while maintaining the living standard of those who enjoy middle to upper class existence.
I am sure your task will be tough, but I believe that you can deliver beyond the critique and the flaws that many will hold against you. I am convinced that if you remain true to the spirit if Ubuntu , and drive the spirit of Ubuntu as a key factor for the fabric of our nation, you will be successful, and our country will continue displaying exemplary global leadership.
President Zuma it must be your agenda to seek out voices that are committed to justice, people who have a concern for those that are marginalized. You need these committed social justice activists in your midst and close by your side, if you are committed to being true to bringing authentic change! We need to see the soul of the ANC demonstratively and dynamically remaining true to the spirit of Ubuntu theology, and Ubuntu Politics.
We need to see our communal existence, our African hospitality and generosity restored. We need to see a country care for its youth and invests in its future. We need to see employment for our people. We need to see quality education for all our children. We need , we need, we need.
But equally there are those of us that can give, and as our president you have the platform to call on the generosity of our people who have, organizations who are making multimillions, churches, mosques and temples and other communities of faith to get active in seeing change that will be supported from the top down, but will be rooted in the heart beat of the people from the bottom up!
There are those who are skeptic and cynical. There are those who have lost trust and hope in the work of renewal, restoration and national reconciliation of our nation. But, I believe that we can see a new day in politics driven by tender conscience, and Biko like consciousness to proclaim and see the lived out beauty of all the people of our land.
I believe that no one is beyond grace, and with all the struggles you have faced, with all the shortcomings that you have displayed, you are in and through and above all else a child of God! It is your time to serve as a child of God, all God’s children and all our people of the country that you love. I believe that we can see a glorious future, and a day where our beloved South Africa presses on in the miracle that was birthed through our victory over Apartheid.
We are now facing new challenges and new crimes against humanity. It is my prayer that you will have your ear to the ground, and here the stomping of the people’s feet driven by the collective consciousness and pulsation of the beating hearts of those who still “cry give us - us free!
Dear President Jacob Zuma, please remain true to all the people of our land, delivering a path that will see South Africa go from strength to strength and stand strong as a nation. I congratulate you on your achievement and advancement to the office of the President. I thank you in advance for your service, and it is my hope and wishes to be true to serving my country in all that I am called to do.
Rev. Seth Naicker.