Sona was a cold dish served to us by a self-obsessed ruling party

I remember when growing up, that people in leadership were always given a greater measure of responsibility than the rest of us. Obtaining these positions also seemed to be considered an honour.

BANTU MNIKI

Later, I came to understand that with the trust and the power invested in them, leaders were expected to shoulder a greater level of responsibility.

It is against this background that the ANC must understand its role in society. We expect a greater demonstration of responsibility from the ANC than we do from the EFF, DA, UDM, COPE, Inkatha, PAC and other political parties.

That is why it is so devastating to witness the ANC misunderstanding its role within our society.

It seems the ANC feels it is entitled to leadership. And it feels entirely justified in attempting to hold onto that leadership despite all the glaring failings.

And of those there continues to be no shortage. We expected, for example, the victims of the illegal transfer of Esidimeni Psychiatric patients to be treated with care. However, the responsibility given to the state for the care of these most vulnerable South Africans has been utterly betrayed.

The needless death of so many people is inexcusable and inhumane. Our culture, fundamentally African, has never harboured space for such callousness. We are very disappointed.

The events of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of 2017 have further cemented this disappointment.

When a motion was raised to honour the victims of the Esidimeni Life relocation disaster, Baleka Mbete refused and ANC parliamentarians agreed with her.

It was a moment of shame in our history. The ruling party refused to honour people who died on its watch. This shows the depraved depths to which the ruling party has sunk. Surely callous insensitivity has found a home within the party.

But another depraved idea – that opposition parties have no legitimacy (in itself a huge lie) – is the real reason why Mbete could not find her human heart. She fell back on her own propaganda and put her heel firmly into the memory of the Esidimeni Life victims.

From the Sona of 2017 we had hoped, as we eternally do, for some kind of re-emergence of leadership, some type of accurate reflection of the state of our nation and the presentation of some kind of unifying vision around which we need to rally.

Instead, we were served a cold dish of the ANC’s self-obsession.

This self-obsession has blinded the party to the real cause of its troubles. And these troubles stem from the loss of genuine, ethical leadership.

The embodiment of this massive loss of credibility is the ANC president himself – a man who the ANC insists on protecting at the expense of society.

The priorities of the ANC at the Sona were completely misplaced. The ruling party’s other obsession at the Sona was putting the EFF in “its place”. This caused the ANC to lose sight of its mandate. Instead this fixation led them down the dark path of breaching our constitution, yet again!

A dangerous trend is now setting in, the habit disregarding our Constitution is being established.

The invitation of the public order police into parliament, apparently disguised as “white shirts”, who then gleefully assaulted members of parliament, was a clear demonstration of the ANC’s contempt for the courts and parliament.

Such an action had been ruled illegal by the courts, yet the executive proceeded to flood parliament with security personnel.

This may not be the last time.

The question now is, is it even possible for the ANC to hold on to leadership? And is it not true that what leaders or those in positions of leadership try to hold on to, is the power that comes with leadership?

The deployment of 441 fully armed soldiers around parliament was not simply a misplaced show of force. It was a statement that government is prepared to take up arms against South Africans, apparently EFF MPs and supporters, who regularly challenge and embarrass Jacob Zuma in parliament.

This is a man who, all by himself, does a better job embarrassing himself and anyone close to him.

This deployment of soldiers was a serious show of force. It was unacceptable and we must not keep quiet!

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