Former Statistician-General, Dr Pali Lehohla, like many South Africans, is worried about the state of the country, particularly as it relates to the political climate. Things have incredibly gone from bad to worse, and it’s quite clear for all to see that the center is no longer holding.
Out of love for one’s country, naturally, one would be moved into action and seek solutions to these problems that we are facing. Dr Pali Lehohla’s recent assertion should be viewed in that specific context. Here is a South African, a prominent scholar, decorated civil servant and a patriot that is concerned about the directionlessness of this ship and wants to see it steered in the right direction.
In an article published by the Daily Maverick a few weeks ago, the former StatsSA boss expressed the view that the 2024 National and Provincial Government Elections (2024NPGE) should be postponed. He argues that South Africans should rather hold a national dialogue and map out the kind of country that they want to live in.
Essentially he is calling for CODESA 2.0. He says “we have to reset the horse so that it will be able to carry on its back the double load brought about and precipitated by accelerated failure in the latter half of our democracy. If we don’t, the elections will bring an outcome that will be nothing but calamity to all South Africans.”
Quite a mouthful and I don’t doubt that it comes from a good place and a good intention. But I think this is not a good idea at all. Here are my reasons:
CODESA is what we have been living through in the last 29 years
To this day, we still do not know what was discussed behind the closed doors at the World Trade Center between the ANC, the NP and other present stakeholders. We have glimpses here and there, but not a comprehensive picture. Hence the clarion call by some over the years for the CODESA minutes to be published.
However, the proof is in the pudding. The publishing of those minutes is unnecessary. Look at the life that you are living, the lack of political will by the governing party to commit to economic growth and infrastructure development, and the sorry state that the country finds itself in. Those are the CODESA minutes right there.
READ MORE: Come 2024 General Elections, who do We vote for?
If you still want more context on this, watch an interview on YouTube featuring the late Professor Sampie Terreblanche discussing South Africa’s transition and how it was led by the mining-industrial complex, with the Mennells, the Ruperts and the Oppenheimers being at the forefront of it all. Those are the real CODESA minutes.
We already know what is the fundamental problem
Furthermore, there is no need for a discussion that will center around symptoms instead of the fundamental issue. In this Daily Maverick article, Dr Pali Lehohla notes that the first (15) years of democracy were a period of social progress and economic growth and that the latter half have been a time of institutionalized corruption and economic downturn, adding: “In the first 15 years of democracy, there had been observable and definitive progress in the delivery of services and living conditions of South Africans.” He further points out that “the following 15 years have been marked by a clear reversal of the gains of democracy.”
Any discussion that is primarily concerned with just corruption, service delivery, performance of the economy at a surface level and other similar issues is rooted in symptoms and not the actual problem itself.
South African’s main problem is inequality. This inequality is as a result of land dispossession. Up until we seriously address the land issue, inequality cannot be reduced, and without a reduction of inequality, all of these social problems (violence, crime, substance abuse, mental health issues etc.) will continue unabated.
Did you know that the Oppenheimer-owned 114,000 ha Tswalu Game Reserve is big enough to fit in the equivalent of five (5) Sowetos? This means that one family owns as much land as 10 million people. 72% of farmland in South Africa is privately-owned. Surely this should be a grave injustice in a country where people are squeezed like sardines in the townships, while others are stuck in dry and barren former homelands.
Postponing the elections will be a big mistake
Malcolm X once said that when people are sad, they do nothing but wallow in self-pity. But when they are angry, they are moved into action, which brings about meaningful change. People are angry with the ANC. They feel betrayed and abused by an organization that once promised a better life for all. The Batho-Pele rhetoric has become virtually non-existent in the way the ANC conducts governance.
The ground is fertile for sustainable change, which can come from either voting or from a revolution. Personally, I prefer the latter, coupled with Nuremberg-like trials for WMC bosses and ANC top politicians, but I’m aware that our people’s level of consciousness is not yet at that point. So I’ll settle for voting for now.
The people’s anger must then be channeled into a productive use of the vote. Their numerical strength must remove the oppressive ANC from power and install a government of their choice. Postponing the elections would be a missed opportunity to capitalize on this anger that is informed by the cruelty of joblessness, high poverty rates, loadshedding, a high cost of living, high fuel prices and landlessness.
In the Daily Maverick interview, Lehohla spoke of the analysis by Chinese professor [Zhang] Weiwei who characterized elections in free-market democracies as a disease of “elect and regret.” This may be true, owing to the nature of this capitalist economic model, and the prevailing role of capital which has clearly risen above political authority.
This does not mean that we should postpone the elections though, especially when we’re so close to the 2024 election date. We’ve been electing and regretting since 1994. If needs be, let’s do it again this year. Our options now are different from 10 years ago. If that fails, we will try something else.
~ written by Lunga Mrhetjha, Political Analyst and Social Commentator. Get more insight from him at patreon.com