“South Africa rebooted” as an idea is a seductive one. We have lived through a serious nightmare under Jacob Zuma. And Cyril Ramaphosa has already shown us in small ways that his ethic is different to JZ.
But it remains for the ANC et al to demonstrate through supporting the tentative moves of a more progressive president (note: at this stage, all we can accept is that Cyril is “more progressive”) than the immediate predecessor, that it is… willing to break entirely with its abuse of us, citizens and residents all.
Only then will we know that this really is a reboot, a second (fiftieth?) chance for democratic South Africa, a restoration of our formative ideals.
The reality is we’ve never been good as a people, at using the many “second chances” in our history. Instead, getting to the brink causes us to become even more determined, stubborn, to stick to the path we’ve chosen or perhaps been forced onto.
So, what are the ways we need to think afresh about our country, the sectors in our “hard drive” (to stretch the computing metaphor) that need to be fixed before we can properly reboot?
Well, the manner in which we’ve got to this reboot itself is significant. It involved many, individuals and organizations who previously abdicated their progressive activist role because a democratic government was installed. We re-imagined what had happened in the 1980s as people took a stand, this time with more than just their bodies, they had constitutional tools, and the conscience of those in the politically corrupt system who turned against the new oppressors if they were not opposed to them from the start.
Staunching corruption, state capture, a general ethical malaise is essential, many agree.
In Parliament this week, “land” has been elevated once more to an apex issue – and the heated debate that has erupted in every corner of our country confirms its importance, 24 years after we all voted.
It will raise further essential discussion around another issue – economic transformation that benefits all.
Non-racism & non-sexism must also be part of this second chance – we have become a disgustingly racist and sexist society all over again. And we must reboot.
If the conversation during this season is to have any validity, it must include confession – an honest acknowledgment of what we’ve done, all of us, individually and corporately, whether black or white, whether part of Zuma’s ANC or the silent enablers, new voters or old, propertied or landless.
After confession, repentance.
And then, restitution, reparation, restoration. That is what our country cries out for in every sense. And we need to heed each other’s cry before any reboot can be effective, successful.
This version of Psalm 51 – ‘Have mercy on me, Lord’ – seems to me an appropriate restoration anthem. You may have your own.