12 April 2017

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has finally overplayed his hand. He may still be hanging on at the Union Buildings but it is only by a thread.

The profusion of voices speaking out against him has reached a crescendo.

Yesterday former president Thabo Mbeki’s added his own.

It was a supersonic boom that reverberated through the political stratosphere.

Mbeki raised a matter that has long been chronically overdue – the need to put one’s country first. Patriotic duty versus party loyalty.

The difficulty of elevating the role of citizen of a democratic country above that of being a member of a  blood-bonded family of freedom fighters has possibly been the ANC’s biggest stumbling block since it became a governing party in 1994.

The challenge of making that leap has been not only been difficult but painful for many.

But the need for ANC members to do this  could not be more acute.

This failure  is why we are still saddled with the hopelessly inappropriate system of cadre deployment.

It is why almost all of our  state owned enterprises have been driven into the ground.

It it is why we have witnessed a procession of dubious ANC figures being cosseted and covered up for when they should long have had to face the law.

This of course, includes the current president of the ANC.

Mbeki was still to learn the value of prioritising nation in the aftermath of  Polokwane. Back then he set his obligation as head of state aside and acceded to a recall from an ANC newly under the leadership of the group infamously known as the “Polokwane lynch mob”.

That group predictably turned on itself.

Today it is barely distinguishable with its members reduced to limp, maimed, self-contradicting, apologising, ranting or threatening half politicians who are scattered across the landscape in a variety of forms.

One would have thought that the mistakes made in  20007  would have been  so obvious and so potentially  devastating that they  would be easily avoided:

  • Do not align yourself with people whose reputations are so tarnished that they have 783 charges of corruption hanging over their heads;
  • Do not put the entire government of an entire country into such a person’s hands; and
  • Do not forsake your country for the sake of narrow selfish gain.

Fifty-five million people are now more out of pocket than ever as a result of people who have done exactly this.

In raising the issue of patriotism Mbeki has struck a broadside for the anti-Zuma lobby in the run-up to the vote of no confidence against Zuma on  April 18.

But more than that, he has brought into the open a critically important matter, which if apprehended and taken to heart by the wider population could prove to be the missing building block on the road to a better future for all South Africans.

Mbeki’s voice at this moment and the profound importance of advancing these simple basics in order to turn the ANC and all of South Africans into a league of patriots may just be his greatest service to this country.

It is worthy of welcome and applause.