Cirque d’Aforika Borwa (Circa 2003)

Only some of the characters have changed and some affiliations.

South Africa is in the midst of a crisis. Of that there is no doubt. But what that crisis is about is less certain. Some would call it a power struggle between contending leaders. Others would call it a skills crisis. Yet others would blame it on the neo con conspiracy and its opposition. And then some others, such as the ANC Youth League would subscribe to some sort of cleansing and renewal of the revolutionary struggle.

However, it is possible to analyse the situation in terms of the idealism ridiculed by Marx as saintliness as depicted in the The German Ideology. The so-called leftist revolutionaries that inhabit organisations such as are arrayed behind Saint Zuma and Saint Mbeki, only differing in the extent of their sophistication, characterized by the notions that: Government Rules and can therefore control and direct the situation, “We are in charge!” It is based in the belief that they can control the world; a belief in legislating behaviour and thought.

One only has to look at the most recent attempt by the Government to implement an oath to justice, as Saint Naledi Pandor is threatening.[1] It is a correct observation of Saint Pandor that moral regeneration is needed if we are to move South Africa forward. But the fantasy of socially engineering the worshipping of the saints of the ‘revolution’, the ‘Struggle Heroes’, is not only arrogance personified, but just plain naive. Gone are the prophets and saints of old. We will now worship the new and whats even worse we will worship the phantasms of a revolution that never happened. What we had was “Regime change” engineered by the Banks and the CIA and MI5 in concert with many others using South Africa as a pivot around which to bring in the Human Rights Regime

Struggle minds are clearly set on the righteous goal of transformation. However in setting the endpoint at the beginning without that much concern for the how we are going to get there, nor reflection on our limitations, the struggle blunders on in a mix of phantasy about the past and the egoism of their revolutionary identities. There is a total confusion about roles and identity. Leadership is viewed as an Identity and not as a role. Too much ego. Too many saints.

Without a transcendant we are lost that is true but trying to impose Saints on an unwitting public will beget its unintended consequences and Saint Pandor will, rather than accept the fact that this hasn’t been thought through, nor allowed to mellow through a process of discussion and dialogue, without the preemptive strike, she will blame the critics for their lack of loyalty and other such counterrevolutionary intentions. Never playing the issues but the persons intentionalities. Once again we are haunted by unintended consequences. When will the ANC and their fellow travelers realise it comes from a lack of clarity between ideals and reality.

The ANC bases its policies in its clay feet. A mixture of lies and fantasies, and sometimes even the confusion of mpimpi’s ( for heroes of the struggle. Too many things that remain hidden and not spoken about. Some because they would be devastating to the framework of Saintly belief and others because they are embarrassing in our rush to show we can do it. Don’t we know that it is actions and hindsight that determines our saintly status not our self indulgence.

We ignore issues such as urbanisation while our people suffer the consequences each and every day. And we do all this in the name of those very people. We ignore ethnicity because we want to appear modern, when we know this is nothing near the truth and at the same time want to appreciate our culture and history, but not in ‘civilised’ company, they may think we are uncivilized. It’s a tragic mix of emotions and slogans that haunts our deliberations.


[1] Cirque d’ Aforika Borwa never actually happened.

Peter Franks is Professor Extraordinary in the School of Public Leadership at University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.