Is it possible for any respected political leader to campaign for a party that they themselves think has gone (or is going) astray?
Is it not all too contradictory for one to say the ANC has changed for the worst – or at least its leadership has, and simultaneously say people must vote for it?
“The ANC bought us freedom. It led the people of South Africa to freedom. For the first time after 300 years of apartheid rule, it was the ANC that brought freedom to our country. Freedom did not fall from heaven, freedom was fought for. Freedom was sacrificed for.”
These are the words of ANC stalwart and former Robben Island prisoner, Ahmed Kathrada, according to a recent newspaper report. The old man was on a campaign trail in Gauteng’s Orange Farm.
A historical fact, in old man Kathrada’s favour, is that the ANC did in fact play a role in bringing about what he calls ‘freedom’. Another historical fact, though, is that it was not just the ANC which helped bring about ‘freedom’. There were others, notably the PAC and AZAPO.
The achievement of ‘freedom’ was not a partisan ideal. It was not some private preserve of the ANC. It was an ideal passionately pursued by all liberation movements. Old man Kathrada knows this, and because he seems to be having enough energy left in him to campaign, he should gather the strength to be honest and say that the freedom he talks about was not an exclusively ANC agenda.
People should be told about Mandela, yes, but why are we not told about the Sobukwe Clause, for instance? Sobukwe and Mandela, whatever their ideological differences, were both opposed to the oppression of Blacks. They were both for freedom.
What about Steve Biko?
If we are honest, we must say that other people who did not belong to the ruling party actually died for this freedom. It is deceitful to deliberately omit certain parts of history when one assumes the platform to teach it.
Besides, really, the auditor general speaks of billions lost by our municipalities, mainly the ones led by Kathrada’s ANC. The rife corruption we see today did not, to steal from the old man,‘ fall from heaven.’
Kathrada must explain how this is going to be eradicated so that it is not part of the next five years and beyond.
Stands and houses are sold to desperate members of the community by mainly ANC councillors. Like ‘freedom’, this did not fall from heaven.
The nepotism that is so common place today did not fall from heaven.
The Hlaudi Motsoeneng mess we see at the SABC did not fall from heaven.
The abuse of public funds to benefit the ANC president and his family in Nkandla did not fall from heaven.
The Guptas, president Zuma’s powerful friends, extraordinarily landed their plane full of civilians at an airbase …basically without consequence. This deviation did not fall from heaven.
All these treacherous ills, more so the ones that deprive mainly the poor of basic services and a better life, need to be highlighted all the time. They after all are also part of our history, not so?
And for all these ills, campaigners like Kathrada should explain why the ANC must be given another chance. They must explain why a party’s history should be the biggest determinant in elections.
They must explain why there will be no corruption in municipalities in the next five years. They must explain why, come August the 4th, the country will suddenly see a new, born-again ANC.
Ed. Maruping is an independent commentator. Visit other media platforms for his works.