Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

22 December 2012

South Africa: Is the Nation Joining the League of Failed States?

Moeletsi Mbeki, author and political economist, believes Africa needs more political parties and a more competitive political system if it hopes to ... ( Resource: Moeletsi Mbeki: Africa Needs More Political Parties

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THE overwhelming re-election of ANC President Jacob Zuma as party President was celebrated the African way, by song and dance at the end of the party, national convention.

Mr Zuma could now finally stop visiting shrines and holding mock battle scenes with that nations much loved and , some say, loathed Sangomas who have received much publicity and hype following their dalliance with the President. The South African ruling party is in its 22nd year of power in South Africa having slaughtered the behemoth that was Apartheid (with much international and Tanzania's ) assistance in 1990.

At independence in 1990, South African conscience of the nation Nelson Mandela, led that country into the dawn of a world of possibilities. For all its brutalities, South Africa had working systems including railways, roads, public service, mining industry and postal services you name it, among others. It also had with it the scars of the long drawn battle of the struggle of the anti -apartheid movement.

South Africa then was like Southern Sudan today, the newest African Nation, and a promised land of sorts. It is these battle scars built by years of struggle against separate Bantustan schools, walk ways, toilets, restaurants, residential areas, even police cells, that became the constant reminder of the new nation of a past it had experienced, a path that it needed to use its newly independent status to consign to the annals of history.

On the graves of the nationalists who had lost their lives, upon the blood shed by the children of Soweto in 1976, was the opportunity to build a more just society. One that was equitable and just, a society that was morally upright and not bankrupt, a society whose conscience would be guided by the path that the Rainbow Nation as South Africa was dubbed, had come through.

Fast forward to 22 years of majority party rule and it has turned out into a major disappointment. The re-election of Jacob Zuma showed Africa, and the world, what the world has always feared, that South Africa would sooner, rather than later, slide down the path of fast development built on the graveyards of apartheid, and become a world leader in science and technology among others - bringing with it some respectability as it went about the business.

Sadly, as if it has quickly lost enough morally upright sons and daughters, Jacob Zuma wins a party national convention overwhelmingly against the more gentlemanly Kgaletma Motlanthe. Jacob Zuma is charismatic, has a history as ANC Leader in the days of the struggle and played his role in ensuring that South Africa has come this far.

But the path of Jacob Zuma is littered with acts of commission and omission not very representative of the leadership that the Rainbow Nation deserves. As a moral nation that embraced forgiveness and forged a new national path, South Africa elected Father of the Nation Nelson Mandela as President in the post apartheid era.

Mandela is revered both in South Africa and the world for his magnanimity in forgiving his past torturers and bringing them to the negotiating table. He is Noble Peace Prize winner because he was willing to forgive the past and open ways for the future. Yet the opportunities are fast fading as South Africa has rejected the chance to elect a leadership that reflects where it wants to go.

It does not matter that it was a popular vote. What matters in whether the problems confronting that country are being dealt with. Today's South Africa is riddled with corruption, a bastion of tribalism and poverty is increasing at a rate where violence of black on black is replacing the violence that used to be across races. The land that was hopeful has become resentful. The gap between the rich and poor is worsening and police brutality, rape and murder is at an all time high.

Africans from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Somalia and elsewhere are being targeted in xenophobic attacks, under the false belief that they are the ones responsible for lack of jobs. The lack of focus on confronting these issues have seen the rise of Julius Malema an ANC Youth leader and a radical to the levels where leadership in the party is ambivalent.

Young Malema is resonating with young South Africans and they are making war cries similar to the 1960's. The most recent killing of miners in Marikana is a fresh reminder that the tinder box may explode sooner rather than later. It is a reminder that popularity can only take one so far in leadership.

It has shown that what took the rest of Africa fifty years to do-slide into desperation - is possible in twenty two years in South Africa. Can this confirm that South Africa is after all, very much an African state, possibly a failing one?

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