Considering all that went wrong during the 2017 SONA which brings to bare, the frail state of the state’s democracy, archbishop-Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane calls on South Africans to protect the country’s constitutional democracy especially from the Zuma-led government.
The senior elder statespersons of the of the Anglican Church, Njongonkulu Ndungane who raised concern over the nation’s democracy said after a long “prayerful consideration of the SONA event, all right-thinking South Africans need to be extra vigilant to protect South Africa’s constitutional democracy.
He said it was ironic and extremely sad that this particular SONA had been dedicated to OR Tambo‚ an ANC stalwart who would never have stood by as the evening event which was marked by obscenities and violence unfolded.
“…we all need to bear in mind that evil triumphs when good people say nothing‚” he said, adding that there were a number of issues emerging during SONA 2017 that should alarm South Africans to the core.
These, according to Njongonkulu Ndungane include:
- The current ANC leadership thinks it can deal with the present political situation militarily. It cannot employ the same kragdadigheid policies of the PW Botha era. “I question the presence of riot police in the parliamentary precinct and cannot recall this occurring even under the apartheid regime”.
- The Jacob Zuma government has seemingly lost sight of the fact that 1994 ushered in a people’s Parliament where one could walk freely in its precinct. The ceremony surrounding SONA provided many ironies in this respect‚ not least that the ordinary people‚ represented by school children lining the streets‚ were lost amidst the might of the armed forces brandishing their weapons of destruction. While it is well and good to have pomp and ceremony on such occasions‚ the way in which the securocrats brandished their power was despicable;
- On the doorstep of Parliament live people with no homes in communities in which law-abiding citizens barricade themselves against rampant crime. Seemingly government can afford several thousand police personnel and members of the SANDF to protect the privileged of our society‚ but cannot deal with the very issues that make people feel unsafe right on Parliament’s doorstep in places such as the Cape Flats;
- While the drama of the fashion parade proceeded‚ with people in their “SONA best”‚ no doubt our citizens waited for them to show their intellectual and moral best. “What we got were expletives yelled from the government benches‚ the sickening sight of white-shirted securocrats beating up members of the opposition‚ and arrogance from the speaker of Parliament and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces”;
- The manner in which the moral compass of the government has been lost was well illustrated when the Democratic Alliance asked for a minute’s silence in memory of the 94 mental health patients in Gauteng who died after they were transferred from Life Esidimeni Centre to various NGOs by the Gauteng Health Department. That this was refused by the speaker says much about the general callous and uncaring attitude of the present government. What would it have mattered if this had been graciously allowed and embraced?”
The Friday’s SONA event has been described by most public analysts, as the worst South Africa ever experienced since the past years. as violence rocked the parliament ahead of President Zuma speech. Njongonkulu Ndungane also noted that even Oliver Tambo‚ in whose honour the SONA was delivered‚ would have recoiled from its shamefulness.
He also condemned Zuma’s careless reaction during the event saying: “Amidst this all‚ our president giggles. How sad. How tragic. How terrible for a movement such as the ANC which was a great party made up of responsible people with reputable leaders to lead it.”
He said it was also ironic that its current leaders don’t understand this‚ instead allowing the party to begin to disintegrate.