We have seen many politicians invoke the names of Chris Hani and Oliver Tambo in their quest to sway our views or to cover up whatever shenanigans they are trying to get away with.
Interestingly, none of them quote these giants when they say anything contrary to what they are doing. Take the instance in the last three weeks when the motion for the start of the impeachment process of the public protector began. The secretary general of the ANC, in his motivation for why the ANC should not vote for the impeachment process to continue, said: “Officially I can say there is no way the ANC can support the enemy of the revolution, the DA. We can’t vote with the DA on principle matters.”
Contrast this with what Tambo said in his speech on May 2, 1984: “But let`s tell the truth to ourselves, even if the truth coincides with what the enemy is saying. Let us tell the truth.” Tambo was responding to accusations that the ANC was divided and so on. To him, honest and frank introspection is key and when looking at any issue one must first evaluate it and not be swayed by the source of the accusation or opinion. This is what is lacking today in many of the leaders we have in society – they are too factional in their thinking and defend whoever is on ‘their side’ no matter what.
Are they following the teachings of eminent ANC leaders like Tambo who came before them? Can we say that the legacy of these great leaders is safe in the hands of the present crop of leaders? Chris Hani also weighed in on the issue of leadership when he said: “What we need in South Africa is for egos to be suppressed in favour of peace. We need to create a new breed of South Africans who love their country and love everybody, irrespective of their colour.” Fast forward to today. Would you, with any confidence, say that the values espoused by these leaders are the ones the present crop of leaders are living by? Have they strayed from these values or are they abiding by them?
Sadly, I am struggling to find examples I can point to where the teachings of the leaders of the past are being implemented by the leaders of today. What we see is crass amassing of wealth as if there is no tomorrow. What we see is vicious infighting that resembles those that happen between two or three different organisations. What we see are accusations and counter-accusations and leaking of damaging information about each other which only serves to weaken their own organisation in the eyes of the voting public. This even prompted UDM leader Bantu Holomisa to propose an absurd measure when he said: “The ANC is imploding, perhaps an interim government can be drawn from civil society.”
Locally I have watched with interest the discussions and public utterances of political leaders on an issue that has engulfed the ANC region in Chris Hani. Many have resorted to speaking in riddles or post cryptic messages on social media that really do not make any sense. We shall wait and see how the whole saga unfolds, but one thing is clear – many are falling short of what Hani and Tambo envisaged. Let us leave it there, for now…