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JZ needs to show some political courage

South Africa needs political courage, a change. A change for the better to steer away from the ill-informed direction we are bearing on at the moment. This is exemplified by, but not limited to the Protection of Information Bill, “proposed” media tribunal, lack of service delivery, abuse of taxpayers’ money by the politically connected.

This nation deserves political courage! The best definition of political courage I can think of if we are to avert another Zimbabwe and a “banana republic” is expressed in a quote by John F Kennedy. The courage displayed by the ilk of FW and Madiba I will not reference as it is a given.

“In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience — the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men — each man must decide for himself the course he will follow.” John F Kennedy

This is what I would like President Zuma to exhibit. It is easy for me to say this in a blog post as I do not face the backlash he might face. I would contend though that this great nation of ours deserves better, much better than what we’re getting at the moment.

He could show his political grit by coming out openly, not speaking with forked tongue as the bearer of the highest office in the nation. Tell the nation that the Protection of Information Bill will not see the light of day. He can in the same breath, once and for all, ensure this stupid media tribunal “proposal” is not even tabled for discussion at the forthcoming ANC national general council. Either the ANC is going to put the tribunal to rest or confirm it will happen. Many structures across the country representing the ANC continue to say the media needs regulating.

Zuma could, as the president, put the interests of the nation ahead of those of the ANC. He should be serving the nation and not the organisation. He could come out and admit that the people of this nation deserve to read, hear or see how their tax money is being used by public servants to enrich themselves. This would be the president showing political courage. With the economy needing more than a boost and more funding to ensure true service delivery, he could say that there would be an across-the-board 20% salary cut starting with Cabinet members and the MECs. This would be political courage.

He would lose many friends as a result, but this would be a sacrifice worth making as it would be in the interest of the nation, not the political hacks and connected few. He might as a result also face the ire of the ANCYL, thus ensuring he perhaps gets recalled or does not see a second term. This political courage would ensure he sets us back on track and reinforce that as a nation we deserve better. He might also lose his fortunes, but it would be for the better.

He could further admit that perception reflects the truth and that most BEE initiatives benefit the politically connected and should therefore be reviewed to ensure more people benefit. He could put together a panel of legal scholars to draw up a bill that would ensure that if you have held political office, you must wait 10 years before you can engage in business with the government. That those who hold high political office in any organisation cannot directly, through family or third parties engage in business with any office of the government. There would be argument that this would deprive people the ability to earn. To this argument I contend that if you want to serve the people of South Africa, this should be your goal. The mere fact that you can influence the tender process means you need to decide on one of the two.

It would be a wonderful thing if the president, as the head of state and president of the ANC, would cancel the idea of ANC political schools. They have never been a success and should be scrapped. Good examples of this failure are not even a century old: the former USSR, German Democratic Republic and China. Political schools have no other objective but to brainwash. We need an educated electorate and not political dogma and party followers. It would be a great idea to take those funds and direct them towards the education of the young.

In a country that had its first democratic election in 1994, the president might also encourage the notion of unity. Differing ideas shared openly is what makes democracy work. It’s high time we stop using language that entrenches racial barriers and complaints of the past and start building a nation for the future.

President Zuma in my humble opinion is content with the status quo. He couldn’t possibly not know that people live in sub-standard conditions. There was a report that he was close to tears when he saw the conditions that some people live in on a daily basis. If this is the case, why would he allow ministers to continue to abuse taxpayers’ money and live in extreme luxury? How can you “feel” for the people and not speak out? Why do you not come out openly against the graft? Being a minister comes with benefits but just because you can does not mean you should. This would be a display of political courage.

These actions, though small, would leave Zuma in political limbo but would be for the greater good of this nation. This would be a sacrifice definitely deserving of the people of this country. This would be political courage.