The will of the people

By Vusumzi Nobadula

Executive Editor: Social Review

As a person who follows the news religiously, it is very depressing to find the same grim subjects being regurgitated with monotonous regularity in our mass media.

In a country with the most advanced economy on the continent – and six major urban centres brimming with some of the country’s sophisticated people – you’d think that accusations and counter-accusations of racism and continued economic exploitation of a large section of the population would have long been discarded.

Unfortunately, not in this country, despite the oft-repeated claims by our leaders and our news readers on the national broadcaster that we are now free – and we live in a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa.

Well, not everybody is going to believe that. Not with the state of affairs as demonstrated by the almost daily marches and protests by disgruntled workers and residents alike; the deep psychological scars left by the massive damage done by outbreaks of deadly fires in the country’s informal settlements; pictures on prime time news showing uninhabitable student living quarters in the historically black universities; collapsed health care and education facilities in some provinces; corruption in high places; porous borders bringing into the country some of the world’s most dangerous criminals; muti killings; serial rapists on the loose; human trafficking; violent crime –and all sorts of other iniquities .

This is a very bad state of affairs. But what is true is that there’s still a semblance of a good life being enjoyed by some of our people here. What is of major concern to some of us is that bad news makes international headlines and draws the attention of the world to the country. The bad images in the mass media give SA a bad name. That is why something must be done by the citizenry – if the authorities do not act expeditiously – then the people themselves must make it their mission to arrest this downward slide to a completely immoral society.

It is only the will of the people that can restore this country to what was envisaged by the leaders who propagated its non-racial and egalitarian ethos during the reign of the UDF in the mid-’80s. During those dark days of apartheid, people had great faith in their leaders. They never doubted their integrity. I do not see any problem why we can fail now to muster all the strength that is still there in the country to return to such high standards of morality.

I say this because there are still good men and women in this country who want to see our country and its people succeed – people such as cultural activist Nomboniso Gasa and political giant Dr Motsoko Pheko.

The African-American political philosopher, Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture), addressing a rally on 17 February 1967 in the US on the occasion of Huey P Newton’s birthday, said: “It is the will of the people that determines the course of the war.”

OperationRösselsprung (German for knight’s move in chess) was a combined airborne and ground assault by the German XV Mountain Corps on the headquarters of the Yugoslav Partisans located at Drvar aimed at capturing or killing their leader, Marshal Josip Broz Tito, and destroying his headquarters. The operation was launched on 25 May 1944.

The airborne assault was preceded by heavy bombing of the town by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force). But despite the superior German airpower, the operation was a failure, as Tito and his principal headquarters staff escaped. The operation failed because the people who were defending him were determined to protect him. That is the will of the people – and 6 000 Partisans lost their lives defending Tito. Only 576 German soldiers perished in that engagement.

What is important here is not the question of the numbers of dead or wounded, the main issue is that the German High Command did not achieve its primary goal, that of capturing or killing Marshal Tito.

There are a few cases where the will of the people had prevailed over a superior power – most notably the successful defence of Stalingrad during World War 2; Cuban fighters successfully repelling the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1959; and the Vietcong defeating the US in 1975.

If these good men and women fail to grasp the earliest opportunity to do something about this parlous state of affairs, the warning by British political philosopher Edmund Burke who said a long time ago: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” will ring true.

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