WELL the honeymoon is definitely over – the ghost of PW Botha has come back to haunt us in the form of a super-presidency under Thabo Mbeki. Why should supermen flying around Africa be given extra powers if they already possess mandates from their people? If they keep crashing and burning on issues such as national soveriegnty, regional economic and political stability perhaps its because they never had a mandate to start off with?
How is it possible to create a Pan African Parliament that will eventually overide the laws of our own nation without at least a debate on the floor? How is it possible to find ourselves in the situation where, not only are we gagging newspapers about oil, but we’re actively supporting one world government and the Bush war in Iraq via our participation in the WTO? While corporate South Africa has been given a big “up yours” by the Laugh It Off judgement in the constitutional court, large corporate media and transnational corporations still fail to take heed of grassroots dissatisfaction with an economic system dependent upon coercion, a strong foreign military presence and punitive sanctions against the unemployed.
While Mbeki, the reformed capitalist, pumps rands into foreign trade deals that sell-out local labour and cleverly avoids facing up to the mounting casualities of his new economic policies, a growing tide of resentment against big government grows by the day. Despite attempts to nation-build, we are fragmenting into eleven language groups each with its own agenda as the former National Party burrows its way deep within our societal structures. Is it no wonder that the liberation movement has been outlawed and freedom fighters are now called terrorists? Is it no wonder that presidential spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe is proposing dictatorship from above instead of grassroots democracy from below?
Where other movements have failed, the anti-apartheid movement succeeded in creating a true people’s parliament and a bill of rights based upon the Freedom Charter. It is now up to our representatives to take these principles further by calling a referendum on the language issue before we forget what freedom means. As William Shakespeare once said, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, but pretty pointless if the children of tomorrow are born into a world without freedom of expression, without South Africa’s unique version of human rights and democracy.
copyright 2005, all rights reserved, reprint with permission.