Should I vote? - Vusi Thembekwayo

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Vusi Thembekwayo 07 May 2019

I have never before considered this question. Not only because I take my duty as a citizen seriously but also because history has shown a correlation between voter apathy & the rise of despotic governments. I firmly believe that the ‘system of society’ and the ‘justice of community’ only function when all citizens play their part.

I have never before considered this question. Not only because I take my duty as a citizen seriously but also because history has shown a correlation between voter apathy & the rise of despotic governments. I firmly believe that the ‘system of society’ and the ‘justice of community’ only function when all citizens play their part.

I also wear the heavy burden of history and personal sacrifice. My late-grandmother (my mother’s aunt) was an active participant in the liberation of South Africa. Visiting her beautiful and well-kept home was both tremendous joy and a curse. She would lull us to sleep with stories of “their” conquests, the cultures and traditions of her “movement” & tales of how courage found residency in the actions and hearts of ordinary people.

My people.

Image of violent service delivery in Kleinmond

Once in a while, she would receive a visit from and introduce to us, someone new. A friend. My comrade, she would call them. Many years later I grew to recognise those friends and faces projected daily on my TV screen as ministers, mayors & even league presidents.

And yet here I sit in ponder. Should I vote?

A twitter follower asked me the same question today, albeit not in the same way.

I began to think about this out loud. To reason it to me, for me.

A thorough study of the random compilation of my thoughts over which I had long since mellowed & yet hadn’t found the diction to audibly expressed or publically proclaimed.

A fair warning. These are not the politically-correct musings of a random. These are my thoughts on the state of our politic. 
Straight & down the line. 
Unequivocal.

… and I am sure some will say, offensive.

  1. None (not one) of the current parties will create jobs at the scale required to dent our sky-high unemployment rate. The ultra-right with their state-capital sponsored growth model have a set of useful “get out of the starting blocks” ideas BUT & (300years of modern economic history shows us this) freed-up capital through a well-priced capital distribution system, low-interest rates, increase in competition, lower regulation & decent government spending are the ONLY ways to create REAL jobs in the short-run;
  2. On the other hand, the trouble with the Uber-left is that their policies & perspectives are void of the realities of much of the country. Their “do it for yourself” mantra is nonsensical in a country where systemic exclusions are so profoundly entrenched, tacitly regulated & rewarded. Moreover, these are almost impossible to overcome in a country where opportunities continue to be distributed by race & gender: Blacks (it seems to me & this is broad statement) are suitable for corporate brochures in the CSI section of AGM reports as recipients of charity or hand-me-down opportunities from predominantly but not exclusively white South Africans.

This is the infant child of the global stereotype thats gone unchallenged: the deeply incestuous & equally romantic relationship between black poverty and white charity.

The truth is that the narrative is soon to run its course. History shows us that all people need space. Black South Africa aren’t given the space to self-determine. Maybe that is a function of a “negotiated settlement” commonly masked as the lack of political will. Either way, the current generation of #MustFall activists are soon to tackle this issue I am sure. And they will enjoy my full support.

Freedom is the only way of fully recognizing somebody’s humanity. 
Freedom! 
Not the illusion of it.

Its the economy, stupid:

You could radically change the economics of SA by doing simple things:

  1. Collapse the oligopolies that control the economy;
  2. Have an efficient human resources program for the state based on merit NOT party affiliation, and we see parts of this in the Jo’burg Metro;
  3. REMOVE provinces to create a more efficient state, with increased accountability while collapsing the existing concurrent government model;
  4. Imprison corrupt politicians & business executives.

Lula.

Why corruption is not the ONLY problem:

Here is the kicker: the problem with politicians is that (today) you have those who WERE corrupt telling those who ARE corrupt not to BE corrupt.

It’s not uncommon to find incompetent people having amassed immense wealth in periods only rivalled by Silicon Valley unicorn founders with their single currency, political connection. But unlike the Silicon Valley founders, these piranhas contribute nothing, create nothing and often leave nothing behind.

This is not a uniquely South African problem nor is it a new South Africa. It was the mainstay path to wealth during Apartheid that our government simple duplicated and multiplied. There are many countries in the world where this practice is much much worse. But that’s not something we hide behind.

That notwithstanding, what cannot be deducted from my argument is that those people create little-to-no value. And in a country with a 0.1% GDP growth rate, a languishing socio-economic state and 28% unemployment rate, you need to reward based on value creation not access to the 6th Floor of 54 Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Street.

In the noise, where are YOU?

Meanwhile, much of the country’s citizenry seem appeased with pure theatrics. Occupy open tracts of land. Collect your FREE made in China t-shirt. The on-schedule election-cycle distribution of food parcels. Thegentrification of a powerful cultural symbol that has for decades stood as a reminder of the collective power of women: the now branded doek. And an invitation to a dinner to endorse some or other candidate who they will not see following that pretentious night.

For the aspirant middle and upper classes whose upwardly mobile ambitions are matched only their mounting debt, the opportunity to feed at the troughs of BEE deals, connection sponsored state-funding & of course tenders is too good to pass.

But where are the doeks & filtered Instagram fist-in-the-air posts when poor learners in universities are denied their reports at the end of an academic year? Where were the doeks when housing projects in the Eastern Cape went unfinished even though funds had been fully paid or when Cape Town tried to convince us that they are addressing their visibly-gross state of inequality that persists and is codified along racial lines? Where were the doeks when government hospitals in the Free State ran out of injections, and doctors had to turn patients away?

the kind of image you use to upset White South Africans that deny their privilege

Where were the t-shirts when children fell to their deaths in the stench of pit latrines? Where were the t-shirts when poor female learners in tin-riddled shanty-townships couldn’t go to school owing to it being an untimely “time of the month”?Where were the berets when young men, having lost hope, put down their books and picked up nyaope, all the while staring at worn election posters from five years ago, still hanging on that rusted street lamp, promising JOBS and a BETTER LIFE?

If you don’t see past the hoax then you’re either willfully ignorant, stupid or just not paying attention.

Its a tall story & the only ones buying it are the pot-bellied whisky drinking cigar smoking tablet-in-a-fake-Gucci-man-purse carrying pseudo-elites so insecure they pose what they do not own to those they do not like, making a statement for which nobody cares.

Empty men with bloated bellies whose only leave behind in the lives of their victims are bellies in kind. A culture that creates hashtags like #Stokosaleadership, rewards mediocrity, ridicules critical thinking and embraces group-think.

In the poetic words of my teenage niece, “miss me with that bullshit!”

The narrowing corridors of new ideas:

Few things are as dangerous as the now commonplace narrowing of views and manipulation of spaces of individual thinking by the rowdy few.

The shutting down of debate. 
The bullying of those with dissenting views.
The encroachment on press freedoms as well as willful and deliberate weakening of the state broadcaster have all lead to our collective dumbing-down.

In this alternate reality, unless the words “radical”, “comrade” or “free” feature in your speech, nobody is listening.

We are living through a special moment in our history.

It’s “The rise of lunatics” who as it appears now run the asylum.

So I ask you, for whom is there to vote? Maybe the rugged general dry of ideas who can’t read an autocue. At least then, the state of the nation would be a nation-building laugh.