The Democratic Alliance (DA) Abroad organised a demonstration outside South Africa House in London last Saturday in solidarity with the mass action against Jacob Zuma in South Africa the day before. This was a result of the president’s disastrous midnight cabinet reshuffle a week earlier which saw him dismiss and replace the well performing finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas. As a result the country’s credit rating being downgraded to ‘junk’ status i.e. to sub-investment level threatening the economy and stability in general.
|‘The 10th Province’|
Feeling compelled to be there I arrived in Trafalgar Square to glorious sunshine and much anticipation in the air. Meeting my friend Brent, flag in hand, we joined the hundreds collected on the pavement outside the building.
|So many flags|
The mood was festive and determined. None of us were kidding ourselves that when Parliament reconvenes Zuma will hold his hands up and surrender to the proposed No Confidence motion against him, but there was a sense of urgency about showing our discontent.
In this age of isolation and narcissism we, and most importantly those in power, need to be reminded that in a democracy the country belongs to the people. The Struggle was fought and won by ordinary citizens not accepting the situation.
It is for us to come together and focus our anger and frustration into a common cause and shift things back towards the all-inclusive democratic dream achieved in 1994.
Unfortunately the speakers were hard to hear from where we were standing but what was loud and clear were the enthusiastic shouts of ‘Zuma Must Go’, ‘Viva’s’ for Mandela, Kathrada and Tambo and the various rounds of ‘Shosholoza’ punctuated with vuvuzelas. Most moving was the singing of the national anthem which gave me chills, the final lines being ever more appropriate; “Sounds the call to come together, and united we shall stand. Let us live and strive for freedom in South Africa our land!”
|A quote well utilised|
While South African society faces many difficulties, once we have good governance I feel we can address these other issues fairly. With a self-serving tsotsi in charge abusing the sweeping executive powers at his disposal we will only be seen as cogs in his wealth machine. We need a magnanimous leader who cares about adequate housing, sanitation, policing under-resourced communities and approaching the land issue with fairness.
On Zuma’s (and Gordhan’s) birthdays today, a National Day of Action is underway, called for by all opposition parties, making a stand for not just what is right, but protecting a democracy under threat. This is the new struggle. This is not a racial issue; it’s not even a political issue. It’s about all of us securing a future for our beautiful country and the next generation. We need to make it a land of possibilities, not ‘what could have been’.
We owe it to ourselves. We all deserve much better.