The most worrying of all must be the alleged use of state security agencies to prevent another booing episode like the one that embarrassed Zuma at the memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela.
According to the Sunday Times, supporters who attended the launch of the ANC’s election manifesto on Saturday had to be preregistered and were seated according to the provinces they hailed from.
“This time around we are well prepared. We know where every bus comes from, and who the passengers are,” an intelligence source was quoted as saying.
The paper also reported that ministers Collins Chabane and Siyabonga Cwele met “disgruntled residents living near the Mbombela Stadium amid fears the community was planning to disrupt” the launch.
The misuse of state resources and agencies – especially security and intelligence ones – for party political purposes is unfortunately nothing new.
That there seems to be so little effort expended in hiding such abuse is perhaps of even more concern than the abuse itself. It means those in power feel they will not be punished by voters for these sorts of activities and, considering past instances, they may well be correct. If voters are unwilling to hold elected officials accountable when they bend or break the rules designed to safeguard the institution of democracy, then they may wake up one day to find that they are powerless to do anything when these same officials break other rules these voters actually do care about.
We desperately need a new political culture; one in which there is respect for the principles of democratic government across the political spectrum, instead of the current situation wherein far too many citizens are happy to let “their side” get away with murder, but suddenly develop a respect for consitutional democracy when it suits them.
If we don’t grow up, we’ll all go down together.