Guest Column: Learnmore Zuze
Listening to South African opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema speaking, one can evidently see the limitation in his diction, but more outstanding is the passion with which the man speaks which I suppose is what matters.
Agreed, Malema may be unrefined in manner and decorum and not exactly the finest of academics, but one thing which can’t be taken away from him is the impact of his persona and speeches on his audiences; the only things that matter in politics.
Malema’s words will come out hot from his chest and without the necessary embellishment of English’s well-carved words, but the impact is felt; he triumphs in getting his message through. In his radicalness, Malema makes much more sense than incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa adorned with all his grooming and education.
Of course, we cannot deny the fact of political posturing by the opposition, but credit must be given to Malema for his inspiring approach against xenophobia. So radical and fiery has been Malema that he has (principally) told voters that “…we do not want votes that come from supporters of xenophobia”. How many political leaders would dare say that? In their pursuit of power, most political leaders would rather sacrifice the innocent to cement their hold on power,
Ramaphosa made his bed and must sleep on it. He has invited the scorn of the world as well as arouse the condemnation of his fellow African brothers.
No sane person can divorce Ramaphosa’s utterances from the wave of ongoing xenophobic attacks south of the Limpopo. The South African President has no alibi; he goofed big time. His people simply embraced his words and put them into action“…Those foreigners setting up businesses here unlicensed…We are coming after you.”
This was the much-needed match stick that lit the gas-filled atmosphere in South Africa. The ill-feelings and resentment felt towards black brothers by South Africans is unfathomable.
The blood of the eight innocent foreigners so far killed in xenophobic attacks drip squarely from Ramaphosa’s hands. While the South African President may try to colour his recent statements with some remorse and claims of having been taken out of context, but it is apparent that he is responsible and should own up.
Honestly, his words ahead of the election in South Africa constitute incitement. When national leaders speak, they ought to comprehend the different classes of people that make up a country.
To common South Africans, probably a lazy South African, their President’s comments constituted a direct command to go and attack foreigners. If, indeed, Ramaphosa was operating in honesty, what was stopping his government from launching a discreet and shrewdly planned attack on unlicenced businesses in his country? Like Malema rightly pointed out: “If South Africa has illegal businesses operating, it is the problem of unlicenced businesses not of foreigners operating illegally.” It truly beats logic why a whole President would want to give colour to crime and apportion categories to unlicenced businesses.
South Africa, to those in the know, has plenty of illegally operating businesses that belong to South Africans; locals themselves top the number of convicts for murder in their jails, yet the South African President saw it fit to apportion blame on minority groups.
What was his aim, if not to incite violent clashes against innocent people? A responsible President would have spoken to a universal predicament facing South Africa as a nation, and not to single out a few groups.
Today, the blood spilt will one day require Ramaphosa to answer at the Hague and ultimately before God. It is said that there is no time when people become dangerous as when they think they are acting for a national cause.
The murderous and callous South Africans have gone on a rampage maiming and killing with diabolical gusto and enthusiasm, thinking they were acting on a presidential instruction.
What Ramaphosa did must be condemned in the strongest terms, seeing as it is that it is a disease afflicting many African presidents where leaders speak, only mindful of the need to consolidate power and win votes at the expense of human life.
Many will remember how, at the height of Zimbabwe’s land reform, the then tough-talking former President Robert Mugabe had instructed war veterans at a rally to “Go strike fear in the heart of the white man.” War veterans went on to wantonly commit acts of terror against whites.
A significant number of whites were killed in the wake of statements by Mugabe which stoked fires of hatred against other human beings.
It is my ultimate submission that leaders must be leaders and not ‘misleaders’ as we see daily.
Leaders must speak with tact and diplomacy. Today, Ramaphosa can do nothing to bring back the lives of innocent people which have been needlessly lost.
It is really an indictment on the rule of Ramaphosa that it has to be watered by the blood of the innocent
Learnmore Zuze is a legal officer and writes in his personal capacity