The last 25 years have been a life sentence for the citizens of our democracy. For the role I played, albeit unknowingly, I offer my most profuse apology, writes Herman Mashaba.
Dear citizens of my beloved South Africa,
I write to apologise humbly and profusely to you.
Before I explain my apology, perhaps a little context.
In 1994 I was excited. I had watched the potential of my country barely survive under the heel of the oppressive apartheid government.
I, like many, believed there would be an explosion of potential in our country. I expected to witness entrepreneurs and small business owners flourish under our hard-won freedoms.
We had witnessed how an oppressive government had been defeated by the people of our country. It was a magical moment.
With this belief, I voted for the ANC in 1994 and 1999.
For this, I offer my most profound apology.
In my defence, and others like me, I could not have known that I would have contributed to the birth of one of the greatest criminal movements of all time – the ANC of today.
Because with my vote, and many of yours, the ANC has changed from that organisation in which I had placed all my hopes, dreams and aspirations for my country to the criminal enterprise it is today.
25 years into democracy, our beloved country is toiling under the weight of failure, corruption and lawlessness. Our government has been proven to be for sale, auctioned to the highest bidders for beer, whisky, meat and bags of cash.
25 years into democracy, we may as well not have borders in our country. People, drugs and counterfeit goods enter our country without encountering law enforcement. While many are good people, some are criminals, drug dealers and they walk rings around our broken criminal justice system.
25 years into our democracy, the ranks of the unemployed have swelled to nearly 10 million people who cannot have the dignity of providing for their families. In many communities, a young person now has a greater prospect of becoming a drug addict or prisoner, than an accountant or lawyer.
25 years into our democracy, it is our law-abiding citizens who live in fear and the criminals who roam our streets without concern that they will ever face justice.
The reality is that the last 25 years have been a life sentence for the citizens of our democracy. For the role I played, albeit unknowingly, I offer my most profuse apology.
I believe it is time for people who have voted for the ANC in their lives, to come forward and recognise that their votes have been used in a concerted effort to destroy our country.
I believe it is time that those who are considering voting for the ANC again, begin to discuss the idea that doing so would be a deliberate act of sabotage against our country and its people.
Examples of this are not so far-fetched. Think about the state of Zimbabwe right now, and consider that there was a moment in that country where voting Zanu-PF started to hurt its people.
The punishment that is being meted out on the people of Zimbabwe has its origins in a government that received overwhelming support; the kind of support that made it operate without feeling obligated to deliver.
Sound familiar? The ANC has operated for years, one term after another without ever having to fear being voted out. They have done this precisely because they know that they can rely on a majority of South Africans voting them back in, again and again.
Not because of what they have done, but in spite of what they have done.
Like anything in life, it becomes reinforcing. As they get away with it, it becomes more brazen, more abusive, and greedier. The analogy of an abusive partner is not far off the mark. As the abusive partner feels that their victim will never leave them, the abuse gets worse and worse.
The reality is that a life sentence lasts 25 years, and the people of our country are regaining our freedom again. We have now been released and have the opportunity to rehabilitate the shattered pieces of our lives.
I can already predict how I will be attacked for my words, and called names like a “black apologist”. Ask yourself this question: who do you think have been the greatest victims of the last 25 years of the ANC? Young, poor black people who the ANC claim to own.
As South Africans who have voted for the ANC before, we have to learn that you do not give your vote to any political party for life. A vote is lent to a political party for five years in a contract between that party and that voter. If the party who received that vote does not deliver with that vote, they have broken a contract.
Would you give more money to someone who has failed to do the last job you paid them for? Of course you wouldn’t.
So why treat political parties any differently?
This weekend is the last voter registration weekend before the upcoming national election.
I call upon every young person to take control of a future where the last 25 years of the ANC have become a distant, painful memory of the past.
Mashaba is executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg.