Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
This evening, accompanied by the usual pomp and ceremony, the President will deliver his state of the nation address in the national Parliament. The shift to an evening event seems to have stuck and the general public will be able to view a live broadcast of the President's speech.
I would not be surprised if citizens tuned in simply to see what the President says next. Not because we are waiting for any groundbreaking policy shifts or admissions of failure, but because our President has become so adept at the faux pas.
One year ago, I stood before the nation and declared that the IFP would support President Zuma because we cannot afford to see the President and his Government fail. A failure of the President, I said, would mean a failure of our country. But I premised our support on the President's ability to rise to the challenge of becoming the leader of a national movement that cuts through all the nonsense and puts us all to work.
I also warned the ANC against the practice of making exaggerated and unrealistic promises, and insulting the intelligence of our people. If it were not bad enough that the President's promise of half a million new jobs turned into a net loss of employment, the ANC has maintained its steady course of deception through propaganda.
I have already expressed my dismay at the President's comment that voting for the ANC is a ticket to Heaven, while voting for an opposition party is like siding with the Devil. But the debate on this blasphemy has grown exponentially as ANC spokespeople rushed to President Zuma's defence.
First came the Chaplain-General who made matters worse by 'clarifying' what the President had meant, in that voting for the ANC allowed one 'to stand in the presence of God'. Who exactly is god in this explanation? This man of the cloth then hinted at complex theology, supposedly too difficult for a mere opposition leader to understand.
Rev. Mehana, the Chaplain-General, claims there is no way the President could ever insult the religious community, because the ANC has such great respect for this community. As is often the case, the ANC's argument is flawed. There is no question over whether the President has the capacity to insult the Church. He has already done it.
The ANC's Spokesperson, Mr Jackson Mthembu, then accused offended parties of being driven by jealousy at not having thought up the 'witty' expression first. And the ANC's Secretary-General, Mr Gwede Mantashe, claims that anyone who took offense is 'childish'.
Mr Mantashe also claims that there is no blasphemy in associating the ANC with Christianity. That is true in the much the same way as it would be fine to associate the ANC with philately, if the President advocated tearing up stamps.
Mr Mantashe is clearly trying to spin the rhetoric. But that is only effective when done immediately, rather than three days later. It also loses effect when his colleagues don't stick to the chosen line.
As I said in my statement on this matter, the ANC refuses to regard itself as an ordinary political party, bound by the ordinary rules of the political game. In her book Chasing the Rainbow: South Africa's Move from Mandela to Zuma, Dr Anthea Jeffrey highlights how the ANC regards opposition parties as illegitimate and unnecessary. To the ANC, we are little more than an obstacle to the success of their 'national democratic revolution'.
But there is the rub. Democracy thrives on a healthy opposition. I think the word 'democracy' is being bandied about much too freely to cover a multitude of sins. Just as anyone who criticised the ANC was labelled a 'racist' post-1994; everything that doesn't support the ANC's misrule is considered 'undemocratic'.
I have a few things to say about democracy, and I intend to raise them during this year's state of the nation debate. History and fact tell me that the ANC has intentionally failed to grasp the meaning of democracy. To divert attention from this incendiary truth, it gorges the populace on a feast of propaganda.
Last year I warned the President to cut through all the nonsense. This year I intend to expose the nonsense for what it is.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP