What we have instead witnessed under a supreme Constitution and the rule of law since 1994 has been the co-option and invitation of political powerbrokers to the dinner table, whose job is to keep the masses quiet in their sufferance while they dine caviar with colonised capital. After dinner many things take place under the table and around the table. Some call it stomach politics. The politicians take care of themselves and their families, while those who put them there go to bed hungry, waiting for crumbs from the table.
What else explains the sudden astronomical wealth of so-called “liberators” over such a short period of time? How did some become multimillionaires and billionaires overnight while a third of their fellow citizens languish on social grants? It takes several years for families and businesses to earn the status of multimillionaires or billionaires, after real hard work and value creation. But like Mzansi magic we have some socialism-spouting “liberators” draped in flags, transformed and co-opted into the capitalist class and leafy suburbs.
In 1994 they struggled to put petrol in their cars. Some didn’t even own one. And yet when it is election time you will hear them spouting: “Our people, our people.” Surely, this was not the vision of the real liberators, those whom we revere as the “struggle stalwarts”? They have gone to their graves, with a dream deferred, their life’s work besmirched, and their sacrifices spat upon. What happened to us?
The land is where it all begins. And the law of the land makes or breaks. The law pervades every aspect of our lives, including the allocation of wealth and poverty. We are all too familiar with the history of land theft in South Africa that began in 1652. The infamous 1913 Natives Land Act that just took from Africans has merely been a legalisation and legitimisation of this scandalous process. Its disastrous effect has had a very long life. More than a century later, the very same Africans are unable to take back what belongs to them. They have been co-opted in patches to work against the interest of their own; trapped in the politics of meaningless language, political crap and stupor.
In 1913 those who took from Africans were not conflicted in what they wanted to do. How long will the centre hold if economic reconciliation, restoration of the land, and meaningful redistribution of wealth is not addressed as a matter of urgency?
The July 2021 looting was a massive warning shot. Our country cannot afford second and third warnings.
Politicians in parliament are called lawgivers. They make the law. During colonialism and apartheid, the lawgivers were purposeful. Their purpose was rooted in the philosophy of white supremacy and entitlement to everything, including the bodies of those they falsely believed to be inferior. It was simply to take and colonise and defend, for kith and kin. It was about power. Economic power, political power, military power, and social power.
Today, the language of law has done little to really change anything.
We have parallels. One must look at the 6 January insurrection in the US, and whether its proponents really care about democracy or only care about power. We must ask ourselves why almost half the country voted for a man who seemed to care nothing about democracy and the rule of law. At the deepest level, it is not very different from South Africa.
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Lindiwe Sisulus’ must set the stage for some honest introspection within the ANC about what democracy means for majority of Africans in the face of grinding poverty while the erstwhile oppressors appear to be the major beneficiaries of the new dispensation.