ANC presidential contenders have to denounce party's faults to earn our trust

15 October 2017 - 00:24

Many voters, especially disillusioned ANC members unable to see a viable alternative, are often tempted to give the party a second chance. "Better the devil you know" sort of thing. However, the party continues to disappoint. The leopard cannot change its spots.
Maya Angelou, the great American writer and raconteur, who in my humble estimation should have received the Nobel prize for her voluminous body of work with its vivid insight into the human condition, had simple yet profound advice: when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. In other words, don't try to parse, rationalise, or excuse people's words or actions. Have faith in your senses. Believe what you see or hear.State officials - from the cabinet down to the lowly council functionary - have in the main proven to be incompetent, arrogant and corrupt. Many are obviously living beyond what their salaries can afford. But they don't hide it. They flaunt it.
Under President Jacob Zuma corruption has gone up a few gears. It's blatant, brazen, shameless and quite scary. To cap it all, he now wants to be succeeded by his ex-wife. He wants to keep it in the family. That will be the icing on the cake. Thus prison doors will remain closed.
Nelson Mandela was against Thabo Mbeki succeeding him for the simple and commendable reason that he did not want to create the impression that power was the monopoly of a particular ethnic group. Tribalism, or the perception of it, had no place in our democracy. Not even a hint of it. The new South Africa is, after all, a disavowal of and triumph over such evils. Now Zuma wants to be succeeded by a member of his own family, and we think that's OK. It just shows how far down the abyss we've fallen.
A change of leader can change the course of a nation. But they often demonstrate their desire, intention or that ability to do so before assuming power. Their record and their values, not just mere words, become their ticket to power.
Those aiming to succeed Zuma want us to believe the stories they tell us. But their narrative doesn't comport with the facts, or with what we see. How, for instance, do you run or rail against the status quo when you are part of it? How do you oppose and support at the same time? That's the dilemma facing ANC presidential contenders who want us to believe that their administration, should they win, would be a disavowal of everything Zuma stands for. How can that be when they're supporting him now? They voted for him in the no-confidence vote, for instance. They have shown no courage to break with Zuma.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.