THE BLOG

South Africans Must Actively Resist

It takes more than just a one-day shutdown like #BlackMonday and a single march by a handful of people to force through real and effective change.

05/04/2017 03:54 SAST | Updated 05/04/2017 03:54 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Protesters carry placards as they take part in a 'Zuma must fall' demonstration in Pretoria, South Africa December 16, 2015.

In the wake of last week's cabinet reshuffle, it does feel as though people all over the country have begun mobilising and trying to organise a resistance to yet another Jacob Zuma faux pas of epic proportions. It all began on Saturday when those who attended the Ahmed Kathrada memorial held at the Johannesburg City Hall were urged to mobilise and actively resist by Pravin Gordhan and Barbara Hogan.

This led to the protest in Church Square led by the Save South Africa group and the #BlackMonday where people were encouraged to wear black in solidarity with the likes of Gordhan. There are more actions planned on for Friday by the Democratic Alliance (DA) with a planned march to Beyers Naudé Square

While it is good to see citizens mobilised and trying at least to resist an executive that has become power crazed of late it's just not good enough. These protests, marches and rallies against the powers that be seem to only ever crop up once the dastardly deed has already been done. Where was this resistance before and why do people only get off their lazy backsides once things are in dire straits? It is a constant battle that takes more than just the ease of a social media campaign, which requires no effort whatsoever on our part.

It takes more than just a one-day shutdown like #BlackMonday and a single march by a handful of people to force through real and effective change. There needs to be sustained effort, real protest, real organisation, real opposition and people have to come out and participate.

When the people of Egypt overthrew the 30-year dictator, Hosni Mubarak in 2011 during the Arab Spring it was not because they had Twitter it was because they used it to organise and came out in numbers. Once they were in the streets they filled those streets with more and more people and kept up a sustained pressure until their demands were met and Mubarak resigned. It would be unwise to suggest that we are facing the same problems as our Egyptian counterparts. Jacob Zuma is by no means a Hosni Mubarak but what we must learn from that movement is the spirit of actively getting up and doing something that negatively effects our country.

So keep up the protests, mobilise en masse, get people actively participating and use social media as a way to organise and get people out there not just as hashtag activism. We should also be engaging with our parliamentarians. We should be finding out who represents our constituency and we should be phoning them and voicing our concerns. We need to urge them to serve our interests and to put country before party in any no-confidence vote. The only way we are going to see change is through the legislative process. The power lies with the ANC caucus in parliament and all eyes should be on speaker Baleka Mbete and chief whip Jackson Mthebu. The chief whip, in particular, is someone we need to stand up and lead during this time.

While there are now rumblings within the ANC that there are those that have found their conscience and are asking the president to resign the path to removal still lies in parliament. The change we seek will come from the National Assembly because they are the ones that hold the real power but it's up to us to pressure them to use that power.