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Global icon: ANC has failed the people

Global icon: ANC has failed the people

Durban – One of Durban’s famous sons, Kumi Naidoo, said this week that South Africa’s leadership was in crisis.

As he criss-crossed towns and venues in South Africa to launch his book Letters to my Mother: The Making of a Troublemaker, Naidoo said the country did not have bad leaders but simply lacked any form of leadership.

Naidoo, a former youth freedom fighter and global human rights and environmental activist, was back in his home city and made a stopover at Ike’s Book Shop in Morningside.

He said the situation in the country could have been “significantly worse” if it wasn't for a small number of civil servants like murdered whistleblower Babita Deokaran, and a handful of elected politicians in the ANC.

Deokaran was gunned down last year for exposing corruption in the Gauteng Department of Health.

Global icon: ANC has failed the people
Kumi Naidoo with his book Letters to my Mother which he launched at Ikes Book Shop this week. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

In a wide-ranging talk about issues affecting the country, he said the ANC had failed the people and had one last chance, which it didn’t deserve, to prove it could bring about positive change.

Failing that, Naidoo said: “We must mobilise and get them out of power in the next election.”

He said people were “gatvol” because many of those in positions of leadership had let them down.

However, the danger was whether that anger could be channelled for public good and not be manipulated by those who used the hunger and desperation of others to escape the rule of law.

Lamenting the centralisation of political formations, he said the worst thing the ANC had done was to demobilise everybody when it came into power ,and to tell freedom fighters that everything was under control and that they should go and lead“normal” lives.

“South Africa in reality had more democratic engagement and participation of its people during apartheid than during democracy,” Naidoo told the audience.

He spoke to a packed bookshop filled with friends and comrades while flanked by fellow activists Bobby Peek, Devan Pillay and Louisa Zondo.

Naidoo told the audience that Covid-19 was not the worst disease to affect South Africa; instead it was ‘affluenza’ because too many people were consumed with gaining more material wealth.

“What kind of leadership do we have that they can print a cabinet ministerial handbook that says their rent is paid, that their electricity is paid, the water is paid?” said Naidoo.

Naidoo became an anti-apartheid activist at the age of 15.

He is the former executive director of Greenpeace International and former secretary general of Amnesty International. Naidoo is currently a fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin.

In Letters to my Mother: The Making of a Troublemaker he deals with various facets of his life including the impact of his mother’s suicide when he was a child, and that of his ‘son’ Riky Rick the rapper, in February this year.

Naidoo said his sister, Kay, was 19 at the time of his mom’s death and she became mother to him and his brother, Kovin.

He said when she died of cancer in 2018 it was as if he had lost his mother all over again.

Writing the book, he said, was a “k**k” experience and he cried “a helluva lot”.

“I was alone and finally coming to terms with the trauma of my mom’s death,” said Naidoo.

While he paid tribute to all the ordinary people who had a hand in making him the person he is today, Naidoo said he also wanted to tell a story that “speaks to men” to show them that it was okay to push back against the notion that boys don’t cry.

“The ability to cry is an act of courage,” said Naidoo.

He also wanted to give youngsters courage and let them know that if he and Kovin, and others who came from simple homes could rise above their circumstances, then anyone could.

He hoped his story would inspire a new generation of South Africans to respond to the urgent social and environmental challenges of our times.

The Independent on Saturday

Original Article