By Mbangwa Xaba

The evil of last July has revisited our nation. Once more, it has left bereavement, heartbreak and a clueless government in its wake.
A vile gang has murdered 44 young people across the country. They opened fire with rifles and pistols on revellers in Soweto, Katlehong and in Pietermaritzburg killing 23 in total. Two weeks earlier, 21 teenagers died mysteriously at a tavern in the Eastern Cape.
Besides offering a fake mass funeral for the Eastern Cape massacre, the government, like the rest of us, is none the wiser about the crimes.
The bitter, unpleasant, upsetting and debilitating truth is, these murders, are an ever-present risk of crime in South Africa. In 2020, The Africa Report, a continental political news pundit, said life expectancy in South Africa was worse than in war-ravaged and failed states.
It states: “Out of 191 countries, South Africa ranked 165 in life expectancy at 64.8 years, less than that of Afghanistan at 65 years and Haiti at 64.9 years.”
The report went unnoticed by a population of a country known as the murder capital of the world. So, when Police Minister Bheki Cele went about reciting his usual public relations political rhetoric at a community meeting on Tuesday evening, 5 July in Gugulethu, Cape Town, he did not expect to be challenged.
Lo and behold! Ian Cameron did the unthinkable.
He took Cele to task and the minister lost it. He kicked him out of the meeting. Much has been said since.
My take? I share the sentiment of those who think Cameron is a patriot.
His actions resonated well with a quote from a 1935 novel – It Can’t Happen Here by American author Sinclair Lewis.
The passage explains the silence of the majority, the loud praise singers of a failing government and heroics of people like Cameron.
It reads: “Under a tyranny, most friends are a liability. One quarter of them turn “reasonable” and become your enemies, one quarter are afraid to speak, and one quarter are killed and you die with them. But the blessed final quarter keeps you alive.”
Sporadic individual rebellions like Cameron are patriotic actions of people who love their country and its people.
The type of people who find it easy to transcend habitual racial nuances of a society like ours with an ugly racist past.
His actions are especially heroic given how our party political system which is rooted on racial lines often justifies racism or supports corrupt politicians.
Cameron is the type of patriot that Nigerian philosopher, academic and political scientist Chuba Okadigbo must have had this in mind when said: “If you are emotionally attached to your tribe, religion or political leaning to the point that truth and justice become secondary considerations, your education and exposure is useless. If you cannot reason beyond petty sentiments, you are a liability.”
Like its short history will quickly tell you, our government has commit- ted horrendous crimes in the name of freedom and justice.
The darkest being the betrayal of the poor at whose behest the gratuitous politicians are fidgeting with the levers of power to do nothing but self-enrichment.
Professor Eddy Maloka has made an apt observation in his latest offering to the Daily Maverick. He likened the ANC to a colony of ants. The poorest of the poor are ravaged by harsh economic conditions that the nation faces today, because the ANC – “a colony of blind ants”, is oblivious to the destruction it has coursed in its quest to satisfy “its queen of political factions”.
It has shepherded us to a disaster for over two decades, and we gaily complied. No one dared to speak out like Cameron.
Not even those whose voices would have made a difference. Because to do so would be ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘anti-democracy’.
Look where that brought us. Today, South Africa – a one-time globally iconic nation, is now one of the worst places to live in.
According to the 2020 global Human Development Index, South Africa has been ranked 114 out 189 assessed in the index due to its declining standards of living and worsening income inequality.
We fit the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
(UN-IDSR) classification of disaster like a hand to a glove. It defines a national disaster as “a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing wide- spread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources”.
We have a failing energy supply. We knew about it years in advance but nothing was done.
The same thing happened with our water management systems and both have now collapsed.
Lack of foresight by our leaders, coupled with our collective silence, has made our country to endure bouts of six or even nine hours without power daily.
An entire metropolitan municipality in the Eastern Cape, just to spite our history, named after the democratic society’s founding president – Nelson Mandela Bay, is without water.
These failings mirror our national security. Like Cameron’s cries, alarms bells have been sounded to no avail. This year’s tavern murders are reminiscent of last year’s riots.
Just as we do now, we held our hands over our heads as the deadliest riots and looting since the end of apartheid hit the nation.
More than 330 lives were lost and over R50 billion is thought to have been lost in the process.
At sixes and sevens, the president blamed an insurrection that remains a reality only in his head to this day.
To ensure we don’t cross this path again, South Africa needs social cohesion urgently. We need national effort to address the fundamental inequality and social challenges of our society pronto!
We need a national consultative conference – the type, the magnitude and representative of the 1955 Congress of the People or at minimum the 1986 National Education Crisis Conference type in order to deal with our problems fundamentally as a people, bar the talk shop government.
Mass-based civil society organisations are our only hope and should be revived in our communities.
We can’t just have shutdown groups whose sole contribution is violent protests without any policy input to shape our future.
In any event, it is unhealthy that when it comes to civil society our country only benefits the wisdom of right wingers like AfriForum.
Where are progressive civil society organisation?
Cameron has spoken it’s time for you to get out and speak up!

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