Supporters of individuals undermine democracy
Supporters, supporters, oh supporters! This is an article about not supporting supporters of disgraced politicians.
We all know of supporters of sports teams, like Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Sundowns, Sharks, Liverpool, Barcelona, LA Lakers among many others. They are also called fans. In a democracy should politicians have fans in their personal capacity? We are not talking about people that love them personally, and their policies. We are talking about people who would want their mistakes and even crimes to be wiped from record, and even justified. As Julius Malema infamously threatened about Jacob Zuma, fans who could go to the extreme of killing for their master.
We are also not talking about individuals who represent a clear ideology like Mandela, Tambo, Biko, Sobukwe and others who were supported for their stance against apartheid and race based discrimination. We are talking about people who are fanatically supported for representing ideals that sit outside of the very structures of which they are powerful role players. People that are acting in their personal capacity to further personal goals. When Tambo, Mandela, Biko, Sisulu and Sobukwe opposed apartheid policies, they were not Secretary General of the ruling party or president of the country. They were insignificant and powerless. Their power was the ideals they sincerely fought for.
There are two prominent politicians with a large contingent of personally styled supporters. They are Ace Magashule and President Jacob Zuma. It seems that these supporters of individual politicians appear when their idol, and object of affection is demanding immunity from the law. While not directly saying that the law is flawed, they actively seek to castrate the justice system by decapitating anyone responsible for enforcing it.
Supporters by definition have irrational tendencies. They will want their team to win, even where it has inferior players, or has violated some of the rules. They will take unwarranted penalties in their favour, and a red card or two for the opposition, if that’s what it will take to win. This is what the expression “siyabangena” is all about; or “siyaba enterisha” as others like to say. It means that we know we should probably not win but we are going to turn the tables and make them lose.
In sport there are famous upsets, and everyone loves it when this happens. However, it is not progressive for the upsets to be against the justice system, where it is simply doing its job and powerful individuals “enterisha” the justice system and render it inapplicable to them. This is possible thanks to the supporters. The people that organize the night vigils and camp outside courts of law in an effort to intimidate them.
The supporter is the face and voice of the political resistance to the course of justice. The media looks on and gives these supporters platforms to speak, despite stating that they are supporters, and are therefore biased and possibly unreasonable. To all intents and purposes an unfair defeat for the justice system is a defeat of the backbone of a democratic state. Many will be watching and seeing the blatant disrespect for the law, and yet expect a bunch of angry white farmers in the Free State to have a regard for the same justice system which those in power have little faith in, and take turns to asphyxiate.
Simply because supporters have no guns and do not physically attack a public office does not make this a more acceptable way of showing disdain for the country’s laws. How many would-be young criminals, tax dodgers, rapists and perpetrators of gender based violence will be looking on and asking themselves why they should respect the rules if the leaders see the same rules as surplus to national requirements?
In a democracy everyone, especially leaders, should be a supporter of the country, it’s people and dreams. This support should be supreme. Why then would supporters of an individual have a role and a place in our society, given further that their support is at any cost to the country? Any cost includes turning the country into a banana republic. Is this the citizenship we fought for? If as a country we for a minute were to agree with fans of individuals we would need to declare that such individuals are above the law. That way the law can be applied consistently to the rest of us ordinary citizens who have no supporters. This may be better than having a law for everyone and opening it to opportunistic attacks, which over time will erode its credibility.
Speak out supporters of South Africa, if you are out there.
Siyabangena team South Africa.
10 October 2020
Comrade Controversy writes in his personal capacity. Post comments below.