“The term counter-revolution has become a euphemism in the ANC for anybody that does not think and act the way those in power do. From the opposition, to judges, the media, and even in their own ranks, the counter-revolution label is to brand those who swim against the tide. It is also a weapon to cause alarm about some invisible threat to the party. Yet the biggest threat to the revolution is the ANC’s own conduct and contempt for it’s own constituency.” – Ranjeni Munusamy.
In the late 1980’s the National Intelligence Service (NIS) predicted a future counter-revolution in South Africa. Is the current violent service delivery protests and civil unrest the beginning?
The more things change the more they stay the same.
There have been many changes in South Africa since 1994 with the advent of the African National Congress (ANC) led democracy. Nelson Mandela became a global icon and the international champion of democracy. Apartheid policy was replaced with a democratic constitution that guaranteed freedom and equality to all. Mandela propagated peace, reconciliation and the inclusion of all South Africans without prejudice.
Mandela embraced the Springbok’s 1995 Rugby World Cup campaign and rallied the nation behind them. Madiba magic worked and we won the rugby world cup and for a moment in time victory and the leadership of Nelson Mandela united us as a nation. South Africans embraced the romantic identity of the Rainbow Nation.
Ordinary people opened up to each other as they followed the torch bearing leadership of President Mandela. Former boundaries between races faded and mixed marriages, friendships and business ventures appeared. Common citizens started to accept each other and the white/black conflict dissipated. At grassroots level South Africans regained hope and belief in the future as they followed the dream of democracy. Mandela’s era as president had passed. He was a selfless man who ruled not for the sake of his own power but for the benefit of the entire nation.
The newly elected and elevated ruling elite however was celebrating their newfound power.
A wise man once said – Learn from the past and build the future. The National Party and their policy of apartheid had its roots in the Afrikaner’s century long liberation struggle against British domination. The Boer’s became the first terrorists on the continent when in 1899 to 1902 they fought a guerilla war against the British occupation. After decades of struggle the National Party was voted into power and in 1961 the Afrikaner led government established the Republic of South Africa. For the first time in their existence the Afrikaner took control of South Africa and all its people. But instead of ruling with equal recognition and the inclusion of all the ethnic groups they chose the disastrous policy of apartheid.
The liberating Afrikaner nation ruled supreme. They monopolized the public sector and the economy for their own ethnic group. Afrikaners hated anything remotely English. They drew definite lines between Afrikaner interest and that of the rest of the population. Even English speaking whites were marginalized. The ANC led liberation struggle against white domination continued.
International condemnation of the National Party (NP) and its apartheid policy increased. Civil unrest, riots and the war in Angola escalated. The economy plummeted. The Afrikaners clung to power with brutal force. A state of emergency was declared and the government ruled through the barrel of the gun.
Intelligence wars, cross border raids, hit squads and civil unrest were an everyday occurrence. The government had only one thing in mind – to stay in power. Capitulating to the ANC was unthinkable. It was white against black, Christianity against Communism.
In 1994 the ANC defeated the NP at the ballot box in the country’s first democratic election and ended the Afrikaner’s rule of South Africa.
What is the state of the nation now after twenty years of democracy and the upcoming general election in 2014?
The vast majority of South Africans gradually embraced their democratic society. The so-called ‘freeborn generation’ is about to vote for the first time in the 2014 general election. Racial integration can be seen in all walks of life. As people, little of the former black and white polarization and animosity still exists.
But in the political arena and the struggle for power the situation is different. The ruling ANC government is besieged from all corners and has to a large extent alienated themselves from the population. Like the former NP, the ANC are fighting for survival. They are rallying the support of mainly the black majority, but are also trying to make inroads into the White, Colored and Indian communities. The current ANC leadership punts themselves as the sole creators of the South African democracy and the only party that will promote the plight of the poor and the African people.
The ANC seek re-election not on the basis of good governance but on the inherited legacy of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and other liberation struggle veterans of a previous generation. Not only are they internally divided but often the ANC find themselves in conflict with their alliance partners COSATU and the SACP. Several former ANC leaders have broken ranks and joined other political formations.
What has the current ANC government done with their democratic inheritance over the last twenty years? In my opinion they have squandered it. Citizens broadened the harmony and integration between the races without the involvement of politicians. In many regions especially in rural towns you find Blacks and Whites working and living together in harmony to uplift their communities.
Many black communities all over the country are adamant that the ANC government has failed them. Violent and widespread service delivery protests are a daily occurrence. There is a gross deterioration in basic services, education, health and general infrastructure. The majority of municipalities are bankrupt and its officials accused of non-performance. Crime is high and corruption in government is common knowledge. Two police commissioners have been fired for corruption and the third under criminal investigation.
In 2012 the Sharpville tragedy was re-incarnated when police shot and killed 34 protesting miners. The Gupta saga, arms deal and Inkanthla scandal are controversies that surround President Jacob Zuma. Twenty years of democracy has brought none or little change to the majority and their anger and frustration are boiling over.
The Black communities have a long history of struggle and protest and can make the country ungovernable, as they did in the 1980’s. The current violent protests in Bekkersdal, Sterkspruit and Limpopo are evident to the fact. In these locations polling stations had to be closed and officials were prevented from entering the township. The protesting communities want the government to meet their demands before they will allow any voter registration in their area. The situation poses a serious threat to the ANC government should it escalate and spread to more townships in the country. The unrest and service delivery protest will continue and grow in intensity as the election draws closer.
The future of our democracy will depend on how far the protesting masses are prepared to go and what measures the government will implement to stay in power.