If you have spent some time in ‘post-apartheid’ South Africa, you would not have missed…
Since South Africa’s inception as a “democracy” in 1994, there has always been a tinkering on the edges of the country’s socio-economic problems. There is a lot of playing around with words and repeating the same themes in all the state of the nation addresses without any substance or walking the talk. And there is this sycophantic cheering cohort some of whom are awakened by the clapping of hands and join in, while at the same time wiping off the drool on the sides of their mouths because they had been driveling. One wonders what they would be applauding. No head of state has ever tried to grab the bull by the horns. In his 11th February 2010 ‘state of the nation’ speech, President Jacob Zuma said the economy was turning the corner. I disagree. The appropriate phrase Zuma should have used is ‘cutting corners’. The reason why Zuma and all his predecessors failed is that “the discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstances that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic by nature”. For example, we were conquered and owe our existence to conquest. Those who conquered us, some of whom Zuma praised in his speech, established themselves legally and economically as the privileged class of our conquered country.
There is this hullabaloo around the twentieth anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison which falls on the 11th February. The media, which created this hue and cry in the first place, is abuzz with the news of this anniversary.
The South African media’s portraying of Mandela as the only person who fought for our liberation and whose release from prison is the only occasion to be celebrated is fundamentally objectionable. And I equally disprove of the Pan Africanist Congress’s leadership, members and followers to let the South African media appropriate the glorious history of the PAC and bestow it on the ANC and Nelson Mandela and relegate Robert Sobukwe, Zeph Mothopeng and Japhta Masemola to the dust bin of history and to the margins of South Africa’s fight for liberation.
Addressing the annual dinner of the American Press Association in 1914 John Swinton, editor of the New York News said “There is no such thing as an independent press in America. Not a man among you dares to utter his honest opinion. We are the tools and the vassals of the rich behind the scenes. We are marionettes. These men pull the strings and we dance. Our time, our talents, our lives and our capacities are all the property of these men – we are intellectual prostitutes.” I am asking my countrymen and women who are journalists if they are like the way John Swinton describes them in the foregoing lines or are they different? They must search their souls and be honest. Are they proud of their reportage vis-à-vis the wretched of the African continent?