President Jacob Zuma delivered his 2011 state of the nation address to parliament. Since the time of Nelson Mandela, we have been hearing the same story every February. Zuma gets his fat cheque every month so are Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, including those of the opposition and they don’t give two hoots about the poor and unemployed. They are the worst hypocrites.
Praise singing, which was introduced by Nelson Mandela, has gotten out of hand and reflects the parochialism of ethnicity/tribalism. It doesn’t belong to a national institution like the national assembly. Parliament must transcend tribal predilection.
Moreover, Zuma’s praise singer mumbled something about Polokwane and people who are educated. It sounded like a veiled reference to former President Thabo Mbeki. He also mentioned Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo in his praise singing. Parliament should not be about narrow political party bickering, rivalries and tribalism. It must be a platform to raise issues of national interest. Many people will not have a problem if he confines his praise singing to Nkandla. Reference to Nelson Mandela’s ill health and that he should be given a break should not have been part of the state of the nation address.
Zuma referred more than once to the legacy of apartheid. But never once did he mention the ravaging twin legacies of colonialism and imperialism. It is true that all post independent African states did not embark on the anti-colonial revolution, neither were they anti-feudal nor anti-imperialist in the real sense nor did they focus their attention on the removal of exploitation in general, because they conceived of oppression and exploitation in the context of whites against blacks.
The anti-colonial revolution had, as its main achievement, the right of the new nation states to exercise self-determination but, all in all, this anti-colonial revolution was mainly and essentially a replacement of the colonial administrative bureaucracy and state paraphernalia by the national or indigenous administrative bureaucracy and state paraphernalia. The revolution, that is to say, did not affect the relations of production in any meaningful way.
The revolution left the social relations of master and servant intact. Former opposition leader in Botswana the late Dr Kenneth Koma makes a distinction between genuine independence and mere state sovereignty. He wrote that real and effective economic power remains the prerogative and uncontested preserve of the few whom, in the main, are expatriate representatives of international monopoly capital, with but an insignificant or token interpolation, here and there of nominal local participation.
The dichotomy and social stratification has remained undisturbed and indications are that the dichotomy and social stratification in post-colonial African societies have very much increased. The gap and disparity between those who have and those who have not, between the rich and the poor, has not diminished but is very much on the increase. The indisputable trend, a trend which has become the norm in post-colonial Africa, is that the rich are becoming richer while the poor are becoming poorer. By state paraphernalia Dr Koma refers to the National Anthem, the National Flag, Ministers of state including the President and the administrative bureaucracy. Does that not sound familiar? Is this not what is happening in this country.
By Sam Ditshego