Thank God for trade union Solidarity. Living up to their motto “we protect our people”, they are boldly taking on the state for allegedly suspending Warrant Officer Jannie Odendaal and Constable Abel Twala for apprehending Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s driver for exceeding the speeding limit. Odendaal is white; Twala is black; and together they fearlessly took on the black queen of struggle. This is new-South Africa justice – the kind of justice the post-apartheid government just cannot get used to. It is the most unlikely trade union - Solidarity - that is reminding the ANC of its constitutional obligations, that everyone is equal before the law whether it is Jacob Zuma, Desmond Tutu, Abel Twala, Graca Machel or Jannie Odendaal.
That other perennial fly in the ointment, Police Commissioner Petros, refuses to learn this basic rule. As someone who has nailed his party colours so unashamedly to the Stalinist mast, and forever willing to aid and abet the state in their violations of the rule of law, he, rather than Odendaal and Twala, should be put in the dock. Disciplining police officers for carrying out their duty faithfully is more than just a labour law infringement; the very livelihoods of two families are being affected by this inhumane victimization. This unfortunate incident reminds us of Chumani Maxwele.
Exactly a year ago, while jogging on De Waal Drive, Maxwele was brutally apprehended by President Zuma’s cavalcade for allegedly showing them the finger. Upon reading his affidavit of how the President’s security guards manhandled him, putting black bags over his head, raiding his flat, raiding his private documents, shoving him from one police station to the other, I know exactly why the Human Rights Commission has still not attended to his case. Beholden to the ruling party that appointed them, their tardiness at fulfilling their mandate to protect, promote and fulfil human rights, has become second nature. This sycophantic subjugation of human rights bodies to the tyrannies of the ruling party is nauseating, more so because no one stands up to them.
The uprisings against dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt should alert our rulers that they should not take the goodwill of South Africans for granted.
The citizens of these countries have simply become ‘gatvol’ that their governments have underestimated their intelligence by staying on in power as though they are indispensable to the well-being of their people. Plagued by the idea of the divine right to rule, Jacob Zuma crudely internalised this entitlement as ANC rule until Jesus comes. But we should not forget that SA is not immune to a sudden flare up of ‘gatvolheid’ as is happening in the Middle East. We have seen our fair share of violent protests against corruption, lawlessness, ineptitude, and the failure of service delivery.
Government blatantly steals taxpayer’s money with impunity, paying out millions of rand to CEOs who make it their business to be incompetent. Nowadays, it pays to ruin state institutions because at the end of the destruction is a pot of gold. Every SABC CEO – from Peter Matalare, Snuki Zikalala, Dali Mpofu, to Solly Mokoetle - that has contributed to the emasculation of the SABC, has received a golden handshake. South African Airways is the other example. Not only had the institution to be bailed out by billions of rand in the past, many of its CEOs left enormously enriched. Add to this the countless City managers, directors-general, and executive mayors, then we are talking about billions of rand of taxpayers’ money that went to enriching deployed cadres who had nothing to offer but their loyalty.
Why would Mugabe insist upon staying in office until death takes him away? Why can Hosni Mubarak not give up power? Why have the fights between Mbeki and Zuma been so vicious? Why are those two Ivory Coast presidential buffoons negotiating democracy when there was a clear cut election?
Herbert Spencer wisely said in the 1800s already: the “Divine right of kings means the divine right of anyone who can get uppermost.” This idea is so contrary to the idea of democracy that we need to remind elected officials again, that they are public servants accountable to the electorate. We not only pay them, but we can also kick them out!