Monday, May 30, 2011

The Malema Disgrace--The Hofmeyer Disgrace

I have been thinking about what I wrote in my previous post. Malema has a right to sing about killing "ibunu", but I would ask, how does this serve the best interests of reconciliation and how does it best serve the concept of nation building?

For Steve Hofmeyer to sing about "kaffers" is also his right, but I will ask him the same question.

Who will stop the process of deepening division? How does either action compare to Nelson Mandela's open and energetic support for a rugby team consisting of 14 white players?

Compare that to the silence, and in instances the open support of extremist behavior, that our leaders are showing. It is a disgrace to moderate South Africa and it is a disgrace to the common principles of democracy--I'm talking here about the silence. Our leaders, to warrant the name "leader" need to show leadership and speak out for the values of democracy by acknowledging the right of Malema and Hofmeyer but by openly distancing themselves from the behavior.

Current events around these incidents are serving to polarize our nation further into a democracy based on group support and separation. Democracy based on values, the right of individuals, the right of minority groups, human dignity, equality under the law and above all the right of individuals to strive towards being the best they can be should be our aim. We can all, black, white, no matter what our religious conviction, associate with these values. The impracticality of a democracy based on division and maintaining political power is clearly reflected in our past. Do we want to now allow the pendulum to swing too far the other way? How do we stop the spiral of domination/revolution? Who has the guts to stop perpetuating this?

I call on our leaders to come out of the spiral and to stand up for real democracy. Here are some real democracy values:

Common Good: Working together for the welfare of the community or the benefit of all.

Justice: All people should be treated fairly in both the benefits and the obligations of society. No individual or group should be favored over another person or group.

Equality: Everyone has the right to Political, Legal, Social and Economic Equality. Everyone has the right to the same treatment regardless of race, sex, religion, heritage, or economic status.

Diversity: The differences in culture, dress, language, heritage and religion are not just tolerated, but celebrated as a strength.

Truth: They should expect and demand that the government not lie to them and the government should disclose information to the people. The government and its people should not lie.

Our leaders prefer to uphold what works best in the context of their political power. Today Zuma spoke out against NATO for trying to uphold the above principles in Libya, but he does little to distance himself from Malema's disgraceful behavior. Consider the statement made by F W de Klerk and reported in Die Burger on June 2, 2011: “Dit is onverstaanbaar dat die regering Malema se reg verdedig om ’n liedjie te sing waarin hy vra dat mense doodgeskiet word. Die historiese konteks is irrelevant. Dit sal net so onaanvaarbaar wees as Afrikaners liedjies uit die Anglo-Boereoorlog begin sing wat vra dat Engelse geskiet word.
“Dit is ook onaanvaarbaar vir Malema om wittes misdadigers te noem.
“Dit is selfs meer onaanvaarbaar vir pres. Jacob Zuma om glimlaggend op dieselfde verhoog te sit terwyl Malema, ’n vername ANC-ampsdraer, sulke rassistiese opmerkings maak. Malema se gedrag is onversoenbaar met die Grondwet wat Zuma ’n eed gesweer het om te bevorder.” De Klerk is critical about Malema, but he, like me considers the president's reaction even more unacceptable than Malema's utterings.

Democracy is not giving every person a vote and then polarizing them so you can remain in power to do as you please. Stop hiding behind, "it takes a long time." If our current leaders don't have the guts, then I call on Mandela and Tutu, old as they may be, to re-initiate a march to real freedom and real democracy. The question is not, what do you do when it gets too much, the question is what do you do before it gets worse, what do you do now?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Malema Disgrace

The solution to the Malema created disgrace in our land is not a court battle to shut him up. Our leaders need to come out and distance themselves from his attempts to run against the concept of living together better. I'm surprised that our president has not spoken out and pointed out that, while Malema has the right to speak out and chant his chant, his rhetoric is actually in conflict with the ANC slogan on the election posters: "Together we can do better."Our president's silence regarding this matter brings further shame. It is a silent encouragement to widen racial division. It is a shame that, unlike Nelson Mandela, he is not looking for opportunity to integrate moderates, but quietly encouraging extremists to polarize our nation further. Shame on all our leaders who can make a difference. Shame on you Mr Zuma.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We have a problem in Africa: We observe some democratic principles and ignore others.

A democracy is based on the model that not everything the individual or family needs can be provided by the individual or family e.g. roads, education, health… So the individual pays a levy, a tax and elects a central body to provide these things.

Obviously the central body, the government, has administrative expenses. These have to be carried by the taxpayer as well. But generally speaking, the big chunk of the money collected, the money that rippled up from the ordinary people needs to be spent in a way that benefits the ordinary people. You don’t collect money from everyone and then use it to benefit mostly those who are in government, those who have their hands on the money—that would be corruption. You can devise many clever ways of hiding this corruption, e.g. tenderpreneuring, but it is still corruption.

We invent a voting system to elect who will do the governing. This is democratic and the government is elected democratically.

In Africa this is where the wheels come off in a big way. The elected body abuses the money contributed by the ordinary people: They deploy cadres, they have buddies who tender and get contracts and then mess up the delivery after being paid too much for what they promised. They just mess up the whole system—the money is wasted and lost and stolen before the benefits ripple down like it is supposed to.

This is an oversimplified model. I intend expanding it. But it contains the basic flaws of a system that works upwards in the collection of taxes and election of public “servants” and falls apart in the downward application of the money so collected. This is not democracy. It is abuse.