We’ve got blood on our hands, says ANC’s Mathews Phosa
There are a lot of words that we casually use without really thinking about their deepest meaning. We use them so often and without thinking that we forget that they should guide our thoughts, policies and actions, especially if we are elected and appointed to leadership positions as servants of the people. Some of the words are “sustainable”, “consistent”, “seamless” and “accountability”.
I want to look at the last word: “responsibility”. In the past week or so, we have seen in the aftermath of the arrests of former presidents, looting, assaults, arson, death and destruction on a scale that we have never seen before in this country. , and certainly not since our first democratic elections in 1994.
This shocked the majority of South Africans who pray only for peace, stability and food on their tables. And it brought together taxi associations, farmers, landowners and security companies to ensure that no further destruction was caused by those who went on a rampage and inflicted damage amounting to billions of rand. . Events have shown that when the state fails, whites and blacks will take over and protect our beloved country.
Not only has the chaos caused concern, shock and outrage nationwide, it has also propelled images of burning factories, large-scale thefts and lawlessness onto global TV screens and platforms. social media. It has damaged our international reputation, an injury that will take years to repair. More importantly, it will have a negative effect on investors who spend their hard earned profits on opportunities in our market.
Most South Africans are angry, mainly because they have lost property, feel insecure and worry about the future of their children as well as the restrictions that indefensible clairvoyance has placed on them. freedom of movement and their ability to earn an honest living.
This anger is understandable and rooted in their right to choose and trust a government for their safety, property and the education of their children. This trust must be retained and earned. In this case, the relationship of trust between the government and its electorate was deeply broken.
One of the (many) mistakes our government has made in this process is to underestimate the anger of those who have been so deeply affected. While calm in the eye of a storm is necessary, we have not seen the words and actions of our leaders resonate with this anger.
We cannot – in the midst of overwhelming and overwhelming events such as those of the past few days – appear to be discussing an insignificant event that can be resolved by meeting after meeting with ill-named structures that seem helpless, and whose the functions we neither understand nor feel.
Good intentions and well-meaning statements are often a good thing, but not when people fear for their lives and livelihoods. We want to know the measures taken, the people arrested, the people charged and sentenced by the courts. We have seen very little of it, especially anonymous instigators of it all.
My point is that we need stricter legislation on acts like these, actions that I consider treason. I hope that when we finally bring the so-called instigators to justice, they will be charged with treason and that the National Assembly will, without further delay, begin to draft new legislation that appropriately criminalizes these acts of destruction.
We simply saw no responsibility for the lack of action, the lack of leadership, the lack of preparation and the obvious disconnect with the mood of those who have borne the brunt of the illegal thefts and violence of the past few days. Let’s be frank: nothing can erase the image of people walking out of a mall with TVs, tables, computers, food and other consumables as the police stand tall, helpless or unwilling to intervene. .
Our tragic unpreparedness and inaction has caused many small and medium-sized businesses to go bankrupt, as well as the reluctance of foreign investors to help us create jobs and business opportunities. It is a kick in the gut of our efforts to rebuild the economic legacy of apartheid. We have only ourselves to blame for this tragedy. Let us not blame, once again, apartheid, the virus, social discontent or global economic circumstances. It was an event of our own initiative. We have blood on our hands.
The serious question now is: who takes responsibility for the chaos that has befallen our beautiful earth? Who resigns in acts of responsibility, and who is fired, and who is accused, at the very least of negligence? Who shows that they accept that they should have seen this coming, should have acted sooner, and should have communicated with us in an understandable, sympathetic and energetic manner?
As of this writing, we have not seen any high-level resignations either in the political or administrative sphere of the intelligence community, the security and safety group, or in the environment of justice and law enforcement. lawsuits. Without Fear or Favor has become part of those slogans that we casually use at press conferences and brag about because one or two high-level decision-makers are in court for alleged crimes unrelated to it. that stain on our nation.
It’s not enough. It is cowardly and totally indefensible. The lack of accountability will hurt decision-makers when the next voters go to the polls and voice their views on the many, many promises made that this will never happen again.
Are we really living in a constitutional democracy if those who are duly elected to protect us neglect to do so and think empty words can replace trucks, vehicles, factories, businesses, jobs and safety? It does not seem that those who live in high and secure dwellings understand the terrible trauma, both physical and psychological, that has been inflicted on our society. Shouldn’t elected leaders accept a permanent pay cut to show their sympathy to those so deeply affected by these events?
The questions that rightly arise are: will there be a cabinet reshuffle, will leaders fall into the security departments, will our intelligence community be reshaped into a single institution with leaders? diligent and patriotic? Are we going to appoint competent non-deployed people to these institutions? Will businesses have the legal insurance and other protections they need to be able (again) to take risks as entrepreneurs and rebuild their lives and business concerns?
Now is not the time for the government to play the long game and go meeting after meeting. It’s time to act, to act decisively that shows they understand that people are scared, angry, hungry, homeless, bankrupt and in need of fearless, selfless leadership.
The first step is to show that those who have slept while others have seen their life’s work destroyed are fully held responsible. We urgently need leaders who lead us by concrete and credible actions and not by television screens. We are a nation on a razor’s edge, imploring and demanding to see people use the power of the positions to which they have been elected or appointed.
We the people want this to happen immediately. We deserve this respect. We want to see those who live in luxury with our tax rands held accountable by deeds, not words. And, of course, the question must be asked when we call to account without fear or favor: where does the responsibility end?