Prominent South African opposition politician Herman Mashaba says he is fighting to stop the neighbouring country from turning into another Zimbabwe because of failed leadership.
Mashaba (HM), who is leader of Action SA told Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN) on the platform In Conversation with Trevor that South Africans had the “last window” to change their country’s trajectory in next year’s elections.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
TN: Herman Mashaba, welcome to In Conversation With Trevor.
HM: Thank you so much, and thank you for the opportunity.
Obviously, I have been following you for some time, for many years, many years, and I was surprised the other day to receive the message that you are still in broadcasting.
I thought you just probably decided to go farming or do something else, and I was surprised to learn that you are still in broadcasting.
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So here I am talking to you, so let us see how the engagement goes.
TN: Thanks Herman. Media is the only thing I know, so here I am.
HM: Thank you. I can tell you my life has been taking many turns; kind of watching.
I mean the job I am doing today, the job that I hate, I always tell people I really hate this job with a passion because I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would one day become a politician or a public servant.
Here I am, a capitalist like myself, someone who likes going out and making money.
That is probably what I was born to do, to make money.
I started gambling at the early stage of my life, it is not because of gambling, you know in the township you play this, a game of dice, that is what actually helped me to go through school because I was brought up in a child-headed household with no parents around.
I went to university in 1979. In 1980, the second year of my studies...
TN: Interesting Herman that you say you are doing a job that you hate. Why are you doing it?
HM: Well Trevor tell me, if Herman Mashaba does not do something about the current trajectory that South Africa is on this country is going to, is going down.
I mean there is just no doubt about it.
I think we have to democratically work towards the unseating of the ANC because we grew up thinking that the ANC is a liberation movement.
It is a party that is going to give us as black South Africans the dignity.
Unfortunately, they have given us hell.
As far as I am concerned I really feel they are a criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party.
I believe looking at our constitutional framework before the ANC actually interferes with it, we have got to mobilise South Africans to remove them and put in an accountable government.
Then if it is not Herman Mashaba then who?
I was not really born to really be a spectator.
In my early life my Grandfather told me never to be a spectator, never to live a life without a purpose.
I feel if not Herman Mashaba then who?
TN: That is interesting Herman. Is it not too late … to stop the ANC? You call them what? A criminal enterprise?
HM: It is a criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party.
TN: Is it not too late to stop them?
HM: No it is not. For being a criminal enterprise, that you cannot change.
The only thing that we can change is to remove them from office come 2024. It is going to be our last chance.
If South Africans honestly and truly we fail to remove the ANC from government then economically there is just no way the economy of South Africa will sustain another five years of ANC government.
Then I am telling you, what happened to beautiful Zimbabwe, will be like a Sunday school picnic.
So, we have got a chance, but that window is fast closing.
So it is very important to work hard, to get young black South Africans to wake up to their reality, to really understand that you cannot divorce your lives from politics, because human beings by nature we are political animals.
So you decide to stay away from voting and thinking that someone else will do it for you then that is when you end up with a criminal enterprise and criminals are governing you and dictators.
So, it is really up to us, we have got a short window open and yeah, so that is why we are preparing.
TN: Is it possible Herman that South Africa could become another Zimbabwe? Is it possible?
HM: Very highly possible. Very highly possible.
More especially if black South Africans stay away from voting, because luckily black South Africans have had enough of ANC, so the numbers are there, the ANC is losing power, the voter support, at a very fast rate.
Their survival is dependent on black people staying away from voting.
So that is why it is important privileged South Africans like myself, because I really regard myself to be a privileged South African, to use our influence to really get them to wake up.
Because I remembered Trevor, already back during Thabo Mbeki’s era, already in the late 1990’s early 2000’s, I used to go back home as a businessman and during dinner I said to my family, I said you know I am really concerned with this ANC.
I have a sense, and I am not a prophet, I have a sense that they want to keep black people poor and uneducated.
Fortunate enough everybody agrees. I mean look at the educational outcomes of South Africa, it is the worst in the world.
Look at the unemployment in this country, it is the highest in the world.
If you look at any index, South Africa I mean, I have really battled to find anything positive about what this ANC government...
TN: Are you sure? You can't find anything positive the ANC has done?
HM: Honestly, assist me. Maybe I am biased or maybe...
TN: Black affirmative action?
HM: No. That has been the biggest disaster of the ANC government, because it has made black people poorer, it has gotten our economy to really have money flowing out of the country, the skills...
TN: I just met some black South Africans who are rich.
HM: Oligarchs. Absolutely yes, it produced a few oligarchs, but the inequality and the state of black South Africans today, they are poorer than they were under Apartheid.
I mean I was born and raised in a village in 1959, where we had no water, no electricity.
I can tell you if I look at that kind of lifestyle, you are losing your father at the age of two, and I lived many years in a tin house, what people live in the squatter camps, you know, but in a decent village where we had the pride.
I look at today in the city of Johannesburg, look at the deplorable living conditions of the people.
Honestly, much worse than the life I lived in 1959 when I was born during the dark days of the country’s history, which is really very sad.
TN: How did we get here Herman? How did South Africa get here? This is how many years after independence?
HM: This is 29 years.
TN: How did we get here?
HM: Look, we grew up, obviously unbeknown to us, that the people who left the country, Nelson Mandela playing a great role in assisting to set up for ANC to start the liberation struggle.
Unfortunately, they got arrested at quite an early stage of their initiative, and unfortunately the organisation while they were in exile was taken over by criminal elements.
Trevor, ask a lot of black South Africans, most of them who have been in exile, some of them actually left this country, not because of political reasons, they were running away from criminal activity.
End up in the camps of liberation organisations, and they took over those organisations.
They came back here and continued with their criminal activity, becoming ministers, and today they are the ones who are governing us.
If you look at the ANC, be it in Parliament or all the structures of the ANC; infiltrated by criminal enterprises and working with international criminal syndicates.
TN: Wow. Wow. How are you going to stop them? I mean the last election they were at what 50%?
HM: Well, the last national elections they were at 57%.
But if you look at the last local government elections in 2021, they are now at just over 46% and dropping very fast.
They will be lucky if they can really be in the early 30%’s.
TN: You are that confident?
HM: Very confident. They will be lucky. I think they will need their gods, because they do not believe in God.
So they will need their gods to get anywhere above their 30% because I can tell you black South Africans have seen through this.
Because you are not going to tell someone who has not worked for the last 10, 15, 20 years that their lives have improved, I mean you are not going to lie to a person for 29 years.
You can lie in the beginning, you tell them, giving them your liberation credentials, but at the end of the day people are not going to live your credentials.
People have got their own lived experience, and if you look at the lived experience of poor people in this country it is deplorable.
TN: What are the people...I see you quite active on the ground, you are meeting people from all across the country.
What are they saying to you directly as you meet them? What is it that is hurting them the most?
HM: Well unemployment, the breakdown of the rule of law.
You know for people not to work; a failure of education.
I mean if you look in the townships and the villages, are you aware Trevor, 80% of public schools in this country are dysfunctional?
And you have got two government ministers, tell me, can they send their children to a school governed by uneducated ministers?
Can you go to a university with them as rector?
Can you send your child to such?
And these are people who are now running the very important institutions to prepare the nation to really be able to compete with the world.
They are rewarded, they have been in these portfolios for many years.
Look at the department of trade and industry in this country.
Right now, we have got Ibrahim Patel, before him we have always had communist ministers of trade and industry.
In a civilised nation today, when we have empirical evidence of the failure of communism and socialism.
But you have got a minister of trade and industry, someone who hates business, you put him as a minister of trade and industry.
Tell me, what are you looking for?
You take someone as minister of police, someone with a really very questionable history.
Everybody knows that the minister of police is supposed to actually be serving in jail.
That is why the criminal justice system has collapsed.
So, we are facing major challenges in South Africa.
Are they insurmountable?
I believe very strongly that come 2024 we will sort this out, because failure to do this then unfortunately South Africa will be declared a failed state.