Wednesday, 31st May 2023

Either jail and zondo or zondo straight

By Kole Omotoso
11 July 2021   |   3:40 am
When there is an inevitability, let’s accept that there is an inevitability. If we do not accept it, we are a failure for now.

When there is an inevitability, let’s accept that there is an inevitability. If we do not accept it, we are a failure for now.

We will have to lie low for fifty years and then try for a state again. The South African state must either impose itself on former President Jacob Zuma or give up building a nation for now. There is no way to go except that Jacob Zuma must give evidence of what he knows about the Guptas. If he does not, South Africa cannot go forward. South Africa has accepted bribes from both the plaintiff and the defendant. Case must dismiss itself.

History is to blame. A history of compromise after compromise after compromise asks, no, demands another compromise. Can our leaders craft another compromise with which South Africa can once more proceed?

The Dutch occupied the Cape in 1652 but pretended they only stopped over for water and other refreshment. Before long, they had families there farming wine and other victuals. These Dutch men, women and children needed to be defended from the reaction of those whose lands they had so casually occupied. You set up the police and then the army. In no time, the natives are drafted into slavery to farm and administer the homes and farms of the Dutch.

In the meantime, the English arrive to colonise the same space. They are a wee bit less demanding than the Dutch in terms of slavery. The Dutch offered to move further north to find space for their crude form of colonization.

Unfortunately, for the Afrikaaners (formerly known as the Dutch) gold and diamond was discovered where they had settled. War ensued. It came to be called the South African war because everybody was involved in the war. The main protagonists were the English and the Afrikaaners but the Africans fought on both sides until settlement was reached and the English and the Afrikaaners buried the hatchet in the back of the African. The state of South Africa was created behind his back. He was written out of his country. He was welcome as slave labour while he lived in the most arid part of the region, now known as Bantustan just like Pakistan! The Compromise was for everybody – African, Afrikaaners and English – to pretend that there were only white people in South Africa made up of two tribes the Afrikaaners and the English.

Du Bois (1868 – 1963) asserted that “the world problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line (racism)”… The South African state was set up in 1910 at the end of the South African war (1899 to 1902). That compromise led to the country having three capitals – one executive Pretoria, the second judicial, Bloemfontein and third legislative, Cape Town. Johannesburg is the capitalist capital of the country. So, the problem of the century was the problem of South Africa. The first shots were fired by Sol Plaatje (1876 – 1932) with his book Native Life In South Africa (1916).

In 1912, the African National Congress was formed to fight for the equalisation of everybody in South Africa white and black. In 1944, the ANC Youth League was formed to give the ANC some teeth. Robert Sobukwe formed the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania in 1959 as a break-away faction from the African National Congress.

In 1948, the party of the Afrikaaners tribe won what could be called the second South African war by winning the election on the platform of setting up an apartheid state in South Africa. Although the English tribe was not completely in support of the new state, they held their noses in their hands and carried on the business of the country.

“In 1955, the ANC sent out 50,000 volunteers into townships and countryside to collect ‘freedom demands’ from the people of South Africa”. The resulting submissions was summarized by ANC leaders, among them Z.K. Mathews and Rusty Bernstein, into what became known as the FREEDOM CHARTER.

As the apartheid government became more repressive, the greater and wider the opposition to it became at home and abroad. The ANC was everywhere: in civilian attire in London exile, in jungle dresses in the forest of armed struggle, in the vocabulary of the South African Communist Party and in the back room pleas of European liberals – all pleaded with the apartheid government to free Nelson Mandela.

A brief stopover at the University of Stellenbosch in 1989 surprised me to a great extent. Some senior members of that community told me that apartheid could have succeeded. When confronted with the irrationality behind something being separate and equal, they laughed and said nothing more. I am convinced that those advising the government on their language policy were among my conversation partners. In 1976, the apartheid government introduced Afrikaans as the language of instruction in schools. The last leg of the third South African war entered the fray. On 16 June, the young ones once more gave the struggle a new life. Of course, the apartheid government overwhelmed the pupils and students with state violence. But what the activities of that day and the day that followed was to provide new soldiers for the old war. The different sites of struggles came together and the apartheid government agreed to free Mandela. There was a cartoon. On one of those days in which de Klerk asked Mandela what he intended to do when he was freed. “Your job,” answered Mandela. That settlement created the last compromise which pretended that many apartheid officials refused to accept that they did anything wrong in running a state based on apartheid laws. The waiting had been long.

Let’s get on with the election. The future will settle the rest. The future is here now, ready to settle everything. Jacob Zuma has the temerity, like members of the apartheid government, that he has done nothing wrong. And even if he has he is too old or too sick to go to jail. All he was doing was carrying out radical economic transformation!