Politics are on my mind. I’m not the only one. Buoyed by the “time for change” attitude that has swept America as well as a “yes we can too” feeling here at home, we joined over three million people who registered to vote this weekend. (Big Friendly and I had to register in a new voting district). We are both old struggle somebodies who can’t think of the possibility of not voting in any given election.
Timing and synchronicity have helped mobilise many who felt that up until now they had no voice, interest or even energy for politics. I am absolutely convinced that, looking back, the ANC would have done almost everything differently since, and even including, decisions made at Polokwane. What really caused the greatest destruction was the absolute arrogance of those who thought that all would silently agree with whatever the main guys did and said. There was the arrogance that assumed that all were behind Zuma and that support for him to become the next president was a foregone conclusion. Big mistake. There was the arrogance that assumed that because a lot of main guys wanted Mbeki out, they could just recall him and stick a new guy into the job of president of South Africa! for godsake! and everyone in and out of the party would just be ‘cool’ with that. But the most important factor is the arrogance of ignorance; being totally out of touch with what people think and feel. Ordinary people, card-carrying members of the ANC, leaders, inner circle members, ministers, civilians, civil servants all felt misrepresented by the arrogance of their leaders. And they said, “No thanks.” They gathered together, networked, made a noise and took a stand. And the ANC has been left reeling. They are defensive, angry, shouting and confused. Because, in their arrogance, the arrogance of power without conscience, they didn’t see it coming.
Similarly, a certain somebody and their friend assumed that because of the power they wielded in the teeniest of ways they could do and say what they wanted to a relative nobody because they didn’t like what she said. They assumed, because of who they were, that they had carte blanche acceptance from the small group that they operated in, to do something political. Then they were absolutely shocked when they were called on what they had done. It was the arrogance of ignorance that resulted in a mistake that had repercussions that were much huger than the thing itself, and the ripples and publicity and discussion and ridicule have lasted longer and spread wider.
My conclusion. Test the water. Consult. Talk. Listen. Don’t be a bully. Be like Barack. Be humble. Have purity of motive. Admit your mistakes. Respect.