🔒 Dirk Hartford: Is Mogoeng Mogoeng divine solution to SA leadership crisis?

Following the manifesto launches by South Africa’s major political parties — ANC, DA and EFF — a stark reality emerges: the nation’s precarious state stems from a shortage of effective political leadership. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___Despite boasting world-class talent in various fields, the political arena lacks standout figures. While Cyril Ramaphosa of the ANC maintains popularity, he grapples with leading a declining organisation. The recent ANC manifesto launch highlights internal rifts with Jacob Zuma’s shadow looming large. Meanwhile, the DA’s modest event presents practical solutions yet wrestles with racial complexities. As the elections loom, a potential coalition of opposition forces emerges, facing the Herculean task of uniting against the ruling regime. Amidst this turmoil, former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s divine proclamation as the next President offers a compelling, albeit unconventional, solution to South Africa’s leadership vacuum.

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By Dirk Hartford

Following the manifesto launch extravaganzas of SA’s three biggest political parties – the ANC, DA and EFF – can there be any doubt that our difficult situation is chiefly caused and characterised by the bankruptcy of our political leadership?

We are a country producing world leaders in sport, culture, media, business, science – you name it. But in politics, no one stands out, even nationally.

The ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa remains far and away the most popular political leader in the country, even though he presides over an organisation in terminal decline. Go figure.

The only two leaders whose support is growing, according to all recent polls, are the EFF’s Julius Malema and MK’s Jacob Zuma.

The ANC’s manifesto launch this past weekend in Durban achieved its singular objective of filling the Moses Mabhida stadium with about 75,000 people at what must have been an enormous cost to the recently cash-strapped organisation.

Unlike the EFF, which filled 70% of the same stadium with fighters they claimed were overwhelmingly from the KZN region itself, the ANC bussed and taxied in its supporters from the length and breadth of the country.

What’s not to love about a weekend away in Durban with spending money almost equivalent to the monthly R350 social relief stress grant, free t-shirts, chicken hampers and the chance, as thousands did during the launch, to have some fun on the beach?

Optics matter, especially in a region that accounts for 20% of the ANC’s membership and is now Zuma’s MK base. And the optics that shone through were the visible presence of the ANC’s alliance partners Cosatu, the SACP and Sanco, as well as a detachment of ANC Umkhonto We Sizwe “soldiers” and the sight of Ramaphosa wielding an assegai.

While Ramaphosa didn’t once mention Zuma’s name, the spectre of Zuma’s MK hung over the whole affair. There have already been clashes between MK and ANC supporters in KZN, and we should expect these will only increase in frequency, intensity and bloodiness up to and after the elections.

As to the ANC’s lengthy manifesto, where Ramaphosa made 37 specific commitments and 6 “priorities” were laid out, the less said about that, the better. When a party boasts of how many jobs have been created over the past 30 years amid the worst unemployment crisis ever in SA’s history – and then promises 3.5 million new public sector jobs in the future, you know it’s time to switch channels.

The DA’s manifesto launch the previous week in front of the Union Buildings in Pretoria was a far more appropriate and modest affair attended by several thousand blue-clad multi-racial supporters sporting blue umbrellas.

DA leader John Steenhuisen did a credible job of unpacking its curate’s egg of a manifesto, underpinned by its curious and unwieldy election campaign slogan “Ready to rescue South Africa”.

However, unlike the EFF and ANC’s declaratory and detailed “fake news” type manifestos, the DA’s at least was sober and practical and directly addressed the actual problems the country is grappling with.

For example, its list of zero-rated food stuff for VAT exemption is precisely what is needed right now. Not to mention its excellent proposals on crime.

Of course, both Steenhuisen and the DA manifesto itself, on issues like BEE and land, couldn’t escape – and never will in our lifetime – the “unbearable whiteness of being” problem in dark South Africa.

So, what does that mean for the leadership problem in the DA and its multi-party coalition? And for that matter, for other opposition stalwarts like the PA’s Gayton McKenzie, BOSA’s Mmusi Maimane, and the host of newcomers like Change Starts Now’s Roger Jardine and Rise Mzansi’s Songezo Zibi.

While many of these leaders could well be competent, none have the apparent political gravitas to unite not only the nation but even a post-election coalition of anti-ANC/MK/EFF forces.

The jury is still out until May 29th on what resonance they will have among the electorate, both as individual parties and as a potential collective or coalition afterwards.

Thus far, a not unlikely scenario, especially since MK arrived on the scene, is that taken altogether these forces could account for about 40% of the vote, where the ANC also gets around 40% and the EFF/MK around 20%.

In desperate times like ours, desperate measures are needed, a miracle of sorts, to find someone who, at the very least, would command sufficient respect among all these leaders to unite them in defence of the constitution and opposition to the existing regime.

Curiously, as if on cue, in a move that has so far attracted little attention, a man with an impeccable constitutional CV announced that God had sent him to be our next President.

Yes, ex-Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (he was chief Justice for ten years until 2021) did exactly that in a brilliant interview with Newsroom Africa a couple of weeks ago.

This kind of thing usually invites sniggers of ridicule, but can one afford to have only that kind of response in a situation as dire as our leadership crisis.

We know we already have bankrupt leaders accountable to man, so why not look seriously at someone who believes he is primarily accountable to God and the Constitution?

Besides, in his coming out for President interview, which addressed a wide range of issues that all our political parties have also discussed in their manifestos, there wasn’t a thing said that any of the opposition parties could reasonably object to – including on the hot potato of party political funding in South Africa.

And all was delivered with the gravitas, moral firmness and eloquence that one would expect from an ex-Chief Justice who believes his Presidential fate is pre-determined by God. He deserves to be looked at seriously by all opposition players outside the EFF/MK axis.

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