The President Jacob Zuma-led government had no vision, unlike its predecessors.
This was said yesterday by Professor Njabulo Ndebele while delivering the keynote address at the inaugural Jabavu Memorial Lecture at the University of Fort Hare.
Njabulo credited the Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela led administrations for having visionary policies which took the post-apartheid government forward.
However, he said those strides were now being reversed by the current regime.
“The heady years of the adoption of the constitution witnessed the abundance of visionary policies and legislation in the Mandela and Mbeki presidencies.
“They remain a testimony to the goal of the envisioned democracy,” said Ndebele.
“But as the years pass it increasingly seems that the reality of being a new nation appears not to have measured up to the idea of actually becoming one.
“And that speaks almost to the total absence of vision in the current presidency.”
According to the former University of Cape Town vice-chancellor, the country in its attempts to extend participation of citizens had created room for individuals who “would have never been anywhere near government” to find themselves in the presidency.
Ndebele slammed what he called the “newly enfranchised black elite” whose interest was serving their own interests.
The dream of a booming economy seen in the Mbeki era, said Ndebele, had been replaced by the politics of a criminally syndicated government poised to abort a constitutional democracy in its third decade.
Said Ndebele: “Raiding the Public Treasury is their criminal obsession. Not much will come out of the wealth stolen that will uplift the quality of life among the vast poor.”
However, Ndebele conceded that the constitution was not the answer to everything, especially until the question of how South Africans could really live together was answered, given our divided past.
“Having to know one another, a people without pre-determined identities in a new constitutional democracy, and to become socially, politically, economically and culturally welded into a new national community was, while desirable, a condition that could not simply be declared into being.”
In closing, Ndebele took aim at “whiteness” in South Africa which he said “as an ideology or lifestyle in an overwhelmingly black demographic environment in Africa is an impossibility to sustain”. — firstname.lastname@example.org