State of emergency needed to save the soul of South Africa

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Apr 24th, 2012
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Oupa Ngwenya

FOR President Jacob Zuma, life has been a continuous song to sing. On January 8 2012, the ANC turned 100.

Friends and foes could not deny the cause for celebration. The party came and left Bloemfontein on a celebratory note and is to come back yet again in December.

The return this time will not be a party. It will be a serious business from which to derive not only the policy direction for the party but also for this beloved country. Part of that business will end with who gets placed at the helm of the redemptive policy direction.

The country’s policy direction affects us all, and it should be everybody’s business to know what the ANC does or avoids to do; whether it lifts the bar to the skies of excellence or summarily buries all that is good about this country down the grave of shame.

The one thought the nation has in mind is not only to keep hope afloat but to decisively navigate the best that this nation can offer safely ashore. This is what December has in store for us.

But it is not yet December. It is still April, a month that has seen one celebration after another for the president.

One of Zuma’s wives, Thobeka, turned 40 on April 5. The president was a jolly good fellow turning 70 on April 12. “Being a good person and loving one’s enemies keeps one living until age 70,” was Zuma’s wise counsel. The lecture of life at 70 was not the last that April saw. The bells were ringing for him and Bongi Ngema for their wedding on April 21.

As has become tradition on such swinging occasions, the leading footwork of the president on the dance floor never misses a beat. Part of the nation savoured the moment with some hilarity and the other showed no emotion.

Not that the president must not laugh, dance and be merry.

He should equally be moved to get his leading presence felt by a bothered nation where some are endlessly celebrating the best time of their lives, while others curse their worst to a point of believing every day to be their last.

Something is horribly wrong – with a nation that only delights in the frequency of wedding bells, transfixed by smiling pictures and the thrill of presidential rhythmic happy feet on the dance floor, but is never outraged by the brutality against children, some of whom are hurt even before being born.

The examples are as gory as they are shocking. The nation is getting used to the horror.

A pregnant woman, Valencia Behrens from Randfontein, west of Johannesburg, had her unborn child cut out of her womb and was left for dead by another woman, Lorretta Cooke, so she could steal the baby. The surviving child, so dastardly separated from its mother, has a scar on its head.

If that did not move the nation, nothing will.

When 17-month-old baby Asanele’s grave was being dug in the Western Cape last Thursday for burial after she was stabbed twice in the neck, seven boys were appearing for a 17-year-old girl’s gang rape in Gauteng.

It is time celebrations stopped and a state of emergency declared to restore the nation’s soul.

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