OPINION | State of Our Nation in 13 points writes Professor and Director of SOAS University of London Adam Habib

1. State of Our Nation: The ANC conference at NASREC is a powerful indicator of where our nation is. Its signature feature is that a compromised former Minister of Health had significant support even though he enabled corruption in the middle of a global pandemic.

2. There cannot be a more profound betrayal by a doctor than that of Zweli Mkhize. The fact that he commanded so much support in the ANC demonstrates how far its moral underpinnings have eroded.The KZN ANC’s backing of him suggests that it is now truly corrupt to the core.

3. No progressive outcome would have been possible under a Mkhize presidency. If anything it would have consolidated the destruction of SA wrought by Zuma’s rule. Imagine Karachi or Lagos – Pakistan or Nigeria – and you would have an understanding of SA under Mkhize.

4.Cyril has much to answer for as well.His political timidity has further imperilled SA. His Phala Phala scandal reflects an unparalleled idiocy.If you want to pretend to be a farmer,do so at your own cost,not that of a nation. You wanted this presidency,now lead it with prudence!

5. Is political life likely to be different under Cyril now that he has survived? Probably not! Not only is he severely weakened, and the ANC factionalised, but he also does not have the political character or courage to boldly lead & manage contemporary SA. This will not change.

6. What about the opposition? There are no possibilities here. I am convinced that the DA will administer SA better, even if they will not always politically manage it in a progressive manner. But they will not come close to power given their political & electoral immaturity.

7. The EFF – given its fascist overtones – is an option too horrendous to contemplate. If SA under Mkhize would have been akin to Karachi or Lagos, we would under the EFF be akin to the DRC under Mobutu Sese Seko. None of the other party options are politically viable.

8. Neither is coalition politics viable.If coalition govts are unstable in prosperous & less unequal societies,imagine how much more so they would be here.The only viable coalition pathway is one that principally & permanently excludes the EFF which many politicians will not do.

9: The governance crisis also extends to policy, especially when it comes to energy. I have always opposed privatisation of energy resources given its propensity to drive inequality. But this opposition was premised on a capable administration delivering on energy provision.

10. Yet we are not in this situation. The ANC under Zuma, and frankly even before and after him, has destroyed the administrative capacities of the SOEs and the state through cadre deployment and non-meritocratic transformation.This has compromised the delivery of basic services.

11. Our choice in this historical moment is either no energy or privatised energy provision.This is the real world choice we are confronted with and under these circumstances I would support privatised energy.Those who oppose this refuse to acknowledge our present predicament.

12. SA is in a dangerous moment. Our choices are horrendous & we presently have the most avarice pol. leaders across all generations. Bolsanaros’s Brazil or Modi’s India are not unrealistic scenarios for SA.We are in desperate need for a positive disruption of our pol. system.

13.A positive political disruption is only possible if business & civil society break from the existing political structure including its ruling & opposition parties to create an alternative pluralistic set of political options.Until then we will continue our slow disintegration.

Writes Prof Adam Habib

Adam Habib is an academic, researcher, activist, administrator, and well-known public intellectual. He has been Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa since 2013. Under Professor Habib, since 2013 Wits has increased its student numbers from 31,000  to 37,500 and grown its research outputs from 1,200 to 2,000 units, with over 90% of papers published in peer-reviewed international journals.

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