ANC leaders must listen to citizens’ concerns and address them

BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya recently asserted that if the government based its decisions on social media sentiments, the country would be in turmoil.
BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya recently asserted that if the government based its decisions on social media sentiments, the country would be in turmoil.
Image: FACEBOOK

A pattern has emerged in our politics of ignoring the legitimate expression of concern by any citizen on any issue, with leaders in every sphere of government avoiding accountability to the people they are expected to serve.

BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya recently asserted that if the government based its decisions on social media sentiments, the country would be in turmoil. Addressing critique of the metro’s proposed R100m refurbishment of the WaterWorld fun park at Leaches Bay, Ngwenya said the level of criticism was not mathematically valid.

As a constitutional democratic state, change in South Africa will come only through the ballot box.

But South Africans’ freedom to speak honestly and openly yet cordially – and within constitutional prescripts – remains key to our shared political future.

Citizens daily voice their concerns about corruption, among other crimes, the failing state bureaucracy, government budgets that fail to meet reasonable expectations for service delivery, and an inability to participate meaningfully and fairly in the economy.

We accept that not all citizens have access to internet connectivity or even the data which allows them to engage virtually through social media channels with others, including political party bosses.

However, only the arrogantly insensitive may believe the decisions made in the sanctity of a voting booth are not influenced by the public discourse outside it, including robust discussion on social media.

The ANC’s electoral slide in the middle of the past decade – especially the 2016 local government elections when it lost control of key metro municipalities –  shows that the ruling party is not inured to negative voter sentiment.

South Africans’ freedom to speak honestly and openly yet cordially – and within constitutional prescripts – remains key to our shared political future

Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as president, first of the ANC and then of the country, may have stanched that slide in 2019.

He won further support with his early leadership of the response to Covid-19, although that has been quickly wasted through the unconscionable greed displayed by ANC leaders in their efforts to benefit from state expenditure on fighting the pandemic.

For now, the ANC’s hegemony over the majority of citizens at national, provincial and local levels remains firm. But for how long? No amount of hubris on the part of ruling party hacks can forever stave off a reckoning at the polls.

The most important attribute at this time for any ANC leader is the ability to listen more closely to the concerns raised by citizens through diverse communications channels – and to act on them.​


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