One of the most offensive legacies of the dark era of apartheid is the sense of automatic entitlement that crept into the psyche of a large number of our citizens with the dawning of our democracy.
It was right, and to be expected, that this be so; the constitutional demands pointed the way to the rights and aspirations of citizens of all colours shaking off the shackles of servitude that had bound them all, often on opposite sides of a barrier erected by a successive series of legislation to entrench these divisions.
This sense of entitlement still exists, but nowhere is it as self-evidently entrenched as in the higher echelons of the ruling party, as the SA Communist Party (SACP) spelt out over the weekend.
In a cryptic reference to the sense of elitism inherent in President Jacob Zuma’s not-so-subtle endorsement of his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as the next leader of the ANC, the SACP’s second deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, said during the weekend’s Moses Kotane lecture in Soweto: “If we allow this kind of thing to happen … it will not help us.”
Mapaila said the country’s greatest families – the Mandelas, Sisulus and Tambos – had never demanded anything from the movement.
“If we do that and think we are entitled, because of the surname, we will be creating a serious mistake for the future of this country.”
There is much truth in this, and without taking sides in the ongoing succession debate, some sound logic. It should be that the broader membership of the ANC decide on this important issue, which will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects on the nation at large, than the building of dynasties and the ambitions of the few.
And any false sense of entitlement should have no place in the equation … especially in the fraught world of politics.