BUILD PEOPLE’S POWER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION, LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND UNACCOUNTABILITY
(The views expressed in the newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the organisation)
Elections and morality
This edition sees much happening: elections and a new leader of the AU, Muamar Gaddafi. Very little is known about him and we recommend we read some of his ideas in the Green Book. I found some of his views – writing on Blacks – a bit awkward but have a look.
South African elections are here, and some of the debates are way off suggesting that we are a banana republic. We have problems but that is an insult to a struggling democracy. The unions as a social actor have done some sterling work fighting mismanagement and corruption (SAA), and in solidarity with the peoples of Palestine and Zimbabwe, but there is a few that, as some of the actions against the UNISA chancellor demonstrate, are simply using their power to undermine a person who is or may be aligned to an opposition political party and, in this case, the ANC rival Congress of the People (COPE). If this is the case, it is regrettable as a movement that fights on principled values will be the only one that can be the first line of public interest – national interest defense in a one or maybe two-party dominated democracy.
For those who are cynical about voting I must say that these rights have been hard fought over at home and wherever poor and working people are, and the corporations and others in league with them have often tried to use public office as an ATM towards easy wealth. It is for this reason that we are focusing on what the parties said about corruption, crime, morality (briefly – you have to read them on their websites). An important document but not fully discussed is Jacob Zuma’s letter on morality (which we reproduce here). I would however make a few pointers to encourage debate thus;
1. This letter from ANC president Jacob Zuma takes a very interesting line. Essentially, Zuma-ANC argues that the root of morality lies in the struggle to improve the lives of people. And, he says, the ANC’s leaders are just human beings with failings who should not be judged by subjective moral standards.
2. The letter is written I believe defensively anticipating opposition on the moral flank where president elect Zuma appears very weak. Not surprising COPE has as his opposition a Methodist priest for president.
3. While the collective goals are novel, there is also the issue of individual morality and our movements have always attracted people of high caliber morally and with great discipline. At the risk of being accused of being old fashioned or hardlined, it is on record that after the Arusha Declaration Nyerere and Tanu demanded a leadership of the party and the government have no ties to capitalism or feudalism, held no shares in any company, nor directorships in any privately owned enterprise. Did not receive two or more salaries, did not own houses which he rents to others, etc.
4. How can we take the letter seriously when all around us, ANC members are resigning (Niehaus) or charged for corruption? Or even when Malema tells us that when you join the ANC the good life begins, you have wine, woman and song. I know he was on a roll but it plays into the phenomenon that now is the time for others to CHOW (eat).
5. Importantly, I think the letter ignores the vitally important task of cutting the link between business and politics. I am surprised that many of the comrades I have worked with in the left and in the unions have let this slip. This challenge is what Theodore Rooseveld, 26th president of the USA who died in 1919, said is the first task of statesmanship. I will let him speak: “To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.”
Have a joyous day of voting because tomorrow the real work begins. Join an organization of like minded people and let us work together for a truly, democratic and accountable democracy.
Hassen Lorgat (coordinator and contributor)