As his 68th birthday approaches, it would be Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota’s due as a struggle hero to retire.
Yet, says Lekota: “What a time to be in politics.” Some may question why, after all the years of struggle against apartheid, politicking and nearly losing his party due to infighting, Lekota doesn’t just hang up the hat he once famously said he would eat.
“The loyalty to history is being replaced with increasing demand for change and transformation,” Lekota said. With 45 seats garnered in last week’s local government elections, Cope barely found a place in the top 10 of South African political parties. “But now it’s changing,” said the indefatigable politician.
“And the significant thing about this is when people seek to change things by insisting on the leadership of their choice.” Lekota said the current political climate meant the ground was rich for coalitions.
“I find that very exciting, people are telling their leaders to be more accountable and demanding that if they are not accountable, they should have the right to get rid of them and get somebody else,” Lekota said.
“If you have two or three parties in government, they can police each other for corruption. During the liberation struggle, you did not see different organisations form coalitions to fight apartheid. But now, you’ll see them cooperate on their commitment to serve the people.”
And if politicians ignore their electorate, they will pay the price, as evidenced by Tshwane, possibly one of the ANC’s biggest losses since 1994.
The ANC put seasoned politician Thoko Didiza up for election as mayoral candidate, and the fallout, aside from losing the administrative capital of South Africa, was massive.
The townships of Tshwane burned. And in response to the riots, SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng said he would not show public buildings being damaged. Then journalists were fired and rehired following court action. The stink of Tshwane’s burning will be around for a long time.
“Voting must now be about today and tomorrow. It’s about what is there for our children and their children,” said Lekota.
No retirement then?
“This is a fantastic situation. I’m still young, I have no reason to. What would I do with myself?”