for an honest society necessitates an honest struggle for it. You are
the way you struggle
Cabral, the great African revolutionary who led Guinea-Bissau and
Cape Verde’s struggle against Portuguese colonialism, combined a
strong intellect with a deep passion for his country and its
admirers are probably aware of the saying “tell no lies . . . claim
no easy victories”, they might not be aware of the full context
from which it is extracted.
nothing from the masses of our people,” begins the full quote.
“Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no
difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.”
out to his comrades, co-creators of a new society, to alter behaviour
in the process of bringing about that society. The means of struggle
were inseparable from the ends intended. The quest for an honest
society necessitated an honest struggle for it. The corollary
suggests itself: a dishonest struggle for a dishonest society. You
are the way you struggled.
complexity that you are, is Cabral’s humanistic message. The
attraction to make things seem easy (masking difficulties); the
pretence to be free of error (masking mistakes); and the
posture of perfection (masking failure) are the characteristics
of two-dimensional heroism.
system reduced its subjects to a limited series of activities that
then defined their limited functions: they lived in a township (or
hostel) where they procreated; they travelled to work, where they
were captive, and could not qualify for normal leave of absence;
and then they returned to the township. The cycle began again.
that the two-dimensional hero is one from whom the third dimension,
depth of feeling and intellect, has been excavated. The
two dimensional hero had the prospect of leading two-dimensional
subjects into the new society. The new society then becomes “new”
only in appearance. Its people continue to be subjects even as they
deem themselves free.
continue to assail an enemy they defeated and be distracted, in the
process, from the harder task of finding themselves.
the objective reality of the world and the subjectivity of humans,
Cabral opted not to choose between the two but to embrace both.
transformative knowledge results from such an embrace and takes
human understanding to newer levels. Such an embrace increases
mutual understanding of the kind that builds community. At the
heart of such community is public trust.
What I can
see from Cabral’s insights are possibilities for a new moral
identity and the shaping of a new public consciousness.
the past haunts
The people of
South Africa crave new knowledge about one another to understand the
new social reality that has been evolving since 1994. What is not
clear is the existence of a multidimensional leadership in all fields
of human endeavour, including politics, to acknowledge the emergent
genius of a complex people who are searching for a unifying quality
of trust to bind them into a new national community. Such is the
space for a new politics.
enemies have long been in retreat and are largely gone, but they are
conjured up from time to time in the minds of two-dimensional
politicians. There are few, if any, South Africans today who are
what they were in 1994. But often they err and reflex reactions take
In seeking to
calibrate behaviour, many wait for the guidance of those who fought
for freedom to show the way to the future that was invoked in the
But 18 years
later, the national project appears to have been replaced by the
self-interest of new political elites. Those who have been waiting
for guidance must wait no longer. They must focus on making their
contribution to the unfolding mind, spirit and imagination of a new
Constitution gave us the foundational values that Cabral long foresaw
as essential prerequisites for a new society: transparency, honesty
and truth. These will be at the heart of a new national community of
possibilities of this trust are severely tested and even assaulted
each time something like the public phenomenon of Nkandla comes
along, and the public is called upon to accept it despite the deepest
intuitions that such acceptance is selfdemeaning and
violates the integrity of self. Such feelings are shared by millions
across the land, whether or not they support the party behind it all.
impossible to accept Nkandla without accepting to live with a
violated private and public intelligence, and the conscience served
This non-acceptance carries with it certain implications.
morality of Nkandla is clear. It is totally unacceptable.
Secondly, the legal and governance issues at stake speak to the
professional and ethical capability of the state for self-correction.
An independent parliamentary inquiry into Nkandla is necessary and
essential for this capability to be safeguarded.
This is not
so much about a current leader. It is more fundamentally about
the impact of current actions on the future of the integrity of
government and its processes. The inquiry must determine what
happened, how it happened, what players were involved and what their
particular, where the head of state is involved, the inquiry
must look into and recommend what actions are possible, including
impeachment, to correct the situation for the future. Beyond that, it
must recommend how state funds might be recovered from players found
to have caused their illegal appropriation.
interventions are vital for the evolution of jurisprudence around
view to the future
expressed an insight abstracted from Cabral’s thinking: you
are the way you struggled.
It says to me
that what political parties are to themselves, they will be to
the nation once accorded the privilege to rule.
If they are
tolerant of indiscipline, of a lack of accountability to their
own constitutions, of cultivating the cult of personality, of opening
instead of narrowing the threshold of what is acceptable, of being
entitled without demonstrating the qualities requisite for access to
rights and privileges, of not subjecting their members to the rigours
of membership, of wearing heroic attributes they may not have
deserved, of dwelling overly on past success, of not cultivating the
courage to face the uncertain future with a deep belief in the
justice of their vision.
If they are
tolerant of all these, they will be tolerant of them all when they
are a government in office.
enables us to visualise the new citizen: one with a new sense of
self- and public awareness. The new citizen must learn first to know
what he or she wants of and for the local community they live in, and
then to be more demanding of those who would become politicians.
demand to know what mettle those politicians are made of. They must
demand of those politicians to articulate clearly the contribution
they intend to make to the community should they be elected.
They must demand of them to show how they will exercise their
accountability at all times they are in office. The new citizen has a
right to know about the thoughts and feelings of politicians, whoever
they are, on the key and pressing issues of the day.
There is a
paradox about power worth pondering. The more a leader gives it away,
the more he/she gets it back. To the extent that a leader submits to
the higher public good, so does the leader gain more authority from
becoming the active embodiment of the public good. It is there that
the leader’s legitimacy ultimately lies.
Today we need
political parties that are willing to submit themselves to the
authority of the Constitution, to place themselves at its service.
citizen will elect them if they make this solemn commitment.
It is in this
context that this citizen will know what to do with the National
Development Plan and its vision for South Africa in 2030.
space in South Africa is in a state of constant evolution.
Interpersonal relationships that are being formed every day by South
Africans can no longer be predicted from past associations. That
space is full of interpersonal creativities whose enormous potential
can only be imagined.
parties that have gleaned the potential of this realisation will set
aside time to prepare themselves to understand it fully and draw
strategic wisdom from it. In this situation, the future is more
likely to be found far more compelling than the past. Connected
citizens who have overcome vast chasms of mutual strangeness are far
ahead of the state of current politics.
following example. The intention to turn teaching into an essential
service might be attractive, and there might be nothing fundamentally
wrong with it. In the current circumstances of visionary atrophy it
comes across as a tactical intervention, but a society must be
visualised in which teaching and learning have a formative role in
the public space.
It is here
the new understandings are discovered and shared. Without this, the
prescription of teaching as an essential service is to solve the
problem at the level at which it was created. There will be no
solution – only another issue to fight over.
learnt in the first decade of our democracy how to stay on track with
the visionary goals that led us to 1994. In the second decade, we
have learnt how easy it is to veer off course. We must now look with
new eyes and discern who we have become. We are no longer who we were
A great deal
will follow from this. We can begin to redesign the educational
system for a new educated and skilled citizenry, we can craft social
systems supported by institutions of democracy overseen by a robust
require a professional and stable public service system, maintain an
independent and competent justice system, and an economic system
founded on strong local and regional markets, which creates job
in the process of meeting social needs.
require a national economy that participates fully in the global
economy while carving a distinctive role for itself, a foreign policy
that is an external manifestation of national values, a national
security, intelligence and defence system counterintuitively founded
on default openness with clearly defined areas that are strategically
and operationally closed, yet thoughtful, innovative, and fully
prepared and ready to defend and protect the republic.
What we wish
for ourselves, we will wish for the world – everything universal
We are a new
people. Our challenge is clear enough: tell the truth, claim the
toughest victories. We will be the products of our vigilant minds,
our open and expansive sensibilities, and our caring, welcoming