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The journey of a failed State

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Residents of an informal settlement in South Africa protest against lack of service delivery. Picture: Itumeleng English/ African News Agency (ANA)

By Dr Wallace Mgoqi

Is it lack of visionary leadership or are we led by dunderheads , who can hardly think beyond buying for themselves huge purchases of Gucci, Louis Vutton, Dolce Gabbana, Burberry, and Armani fashion items or purchasing or selling buffaloes or other exotic type animals, indulging themselves with their guaranteed income, regardless of whether they perform or not with their guaranteed income – a beautiful headspace to find oneself?

Is it possible that people with these character qualities would be able to think for people who are forced to live in shacks for a greater part of their lives, with no hope of ever living in a brick house?

Would any of them spend only a day and a night in a shack just for the experience of it?

Their meaning of a renewal they are vocal and loud about is talking change, whilst the status quo remains as it is, with them at the top of the log, and the rest of us down there .It is not about , if needs be , that they vacate their positions of power and privilege for the sake of the country. For them it is the party first, the government , the people and the country last.

They will do everything to retain power and privilege, singing “ Thuma Mina” , knowing full well they are going nowhere, they are sitting on a rocking chair, making everybody to believe they are in motion, whilst going nowhere.

One would have expected that the issue of rural-urban migration, and how it is wreaking havoc, in the lives of the people directly impacted by it, would have been at the epicentre of the priorities that the party articulated, as a leader of society, or at least have it, on its radar screen, even in broad brushes, if not detailed plans, or commission a Task Team to look into it, and make recommendations to the government, as to how it could be tackled, taking into account what other countries have done tackle it, all over the world.

The fact it features not in the entire body of the Statement or critical address of the leader of the party, which gives direction to government, as regards priorities, then you know, we are doomed.

Recently, I read an article penned by one of South Africa’s up-and-coming icons- a rising star, in his own right – Songezo Zibi, “ Let’s get the little things right before everything really falls apart “ He said : “If we do not get the small things right, ongoing deterioration will continue until the entire country resembles the area in which those beer-drinking young men were sitting- a sea of litter and decay. Stormwater drains, roads, bridges, buildings and other infrastructure are falling apart before our eyes.

When a country loses the ability to perform simple tasks such as processing visitors at a government institution or cleaning a state office every morning, then we must ask whether we are not becoming a failed state.

Many people baulk at this, as they did when, years ago, they joked about rolling blackouts in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. It is not a joke now. This year must be the one in which every South African with any sense of national pride decides this far and no further. Change is not an option, but a necessity “. There is a danger of making symptoms the cause of the disease.

Now change is not something that happens automatically, it is like a wheelbarrow, that you must get behind, lift it up and push forward. The moment you put it down, go away and hope that it shall have continued on its own, you will be disappointed to find that it is exactly at the spot where you left it.

I have been punting the idea that for us to see change taking place it is going to take us the citizenry, taking up the cudgels, going into party structures of the ruling party, working our way up, from the branches, the provincial structures up to the national level, grooming new leaders of the calibre of Songezo Zibi and many others, who have the potential to take this country on a completely new trajectory, and usher in a new dispensation, leaving no one behind.

Surely, we cannot just sit around, or simply pray and fold our arms and do nothing, and hope that change will come. We must do something, and that something, as I see it, is going into the party in our numbers, and there select branch, provincial and national leaders, who are going to be in sync with the aspirations, needs and interests of the people. God comes along those who are prepared to do something.

Like the lepers at the entrance of the gate, who asked themselves: ‘ Why sit we here until we die? “ They were near the Syrian army camp, who decided they were not going to die sitting there, but started moving in the direction of the enemy camp and their footsteps were made to sound like a huge army advancing, the Syrian soldiers took to flight, and the lepers helped themselves to the spoils, silver and gold, raiment, and food and had to go back and invite the whole village to come and help carry the spoils.

They had to lift themselves up from their bums, and march with confidence and courage to the enemy camp, and only then did a miracle happen. There is nothing mysterious about this approach to entering the party structures, the China People’s Congress has 88 million members, and it is the leader of that society, sets the agenda for the government, to serve the interests and needs of the people and the country, in that order. So do party-led governments all over the world.

The people are the source of authority and power, and they hold their leaders accountable. They do not allow them to make promises they do not intend to fulfil, nor do they tolerate or elevate corrupt leaders, but remove them from the office, as soon as they turn their backs on the vows they took upon assuming political office.

In party-led governments, the power to hold leaders accountable is wielded by party members only, not those outside party structures.

The latter may complain until they are blue in their faces, nothing will change.

Therein lies the viability, rationality, force and feasibility of effecting change from within. In the 8th January 2023 Statement President Ramaphosa, did well to articulate the foundational principles for the Renewal programme, under The Tasks of the ANC, as adopted by the 55 the National Conference in vision 2032, to guide the renewal and rebuilding of the movement over the next 10 years. Very few patriotic South Africans would have issues with these guidelines. In terms, they call for: the active participation of ANC branches, Alliance partners and other formations in society, as being central to the implementation of the 2032 Road Map.

Their participation must take into account the material conditions in each locality and sector; building of branches as centres for community development- building dynamic ANC branches, that are actively involved in the life of communities.

This includes participation in ward committees, promoting safer communities and combating vandalism of community infrastructure by supporting law enforcement agencies through community policing forums; capacitating and supporting and actively monitoring ANC branches for delivery and impact of government services; strengthening branches must include ending gatekeeping and other deviant practices -through the new ANC membership system that has strengthened efforts to eliminate the abuse of organisational process; build a new cadre and raise the quality of membership, a strong ANC must rest on the foundation of strong ANC branches; Strong ANC branches must be built on the foundation of a cadreship imbued with a militant, principled, unwavering commitment to the cause of the people and the highest standards of organisational discipline.

All these guidelines without exception should be acceptable to all freedom-loving South Africans, who should create the fulcrum of the ANC members of the future, especially from the ranks of young people, whose voting patterns, statistically have been declining since 1994, ranging from 41 % in 1999 to 9% in 2021.

This is the time to turn it all around, starting with the upcoming elections of 2024, through the infusion of new members who meet the guidelines.

This time around there will be no need for membership recruitment drives, as there will be a deluge of new members volunteering to join the party to make a change in their lives and that of the country.

Adv. Wallace Mgoqi is the chairman of Ayo Technology Solutions Ltd. He writes in his personal capacity.