Letter: Hoping for a political saviour is futile: let votes do the talking at the ballot box - Cape Argus

17 August 2020 - There is an eight-minute video clip doing the rounds on social media. It shows Methodist bishop Gary Rivas addressing an open letter of sorts to President Cyril Ramaphosa and decrying the state of the country, not least the no-holds-barred corruption that has eaten into COVID-19 procurement. (Disclaimer: it is not clear where the video originated.)

There is an eight-minute video clip doing the rounds on social media. It shows Methodist bishop Gary Rivas addressing an open letter of sorts to President Cyril Ramaphosa and decrying the state of the country, not least the no-holds-barred corruption that has eaten into COVID-19 procurement. (Disclaimer: it is not clear where the video originated.)

Recalling the optimism with which the Ramphosa ascendency had been greeted, the bishop quoted from the Book of Daniel to indict his record in office: ‘You have been measured, you have been weighted, and you have been found wanting.’

South Africa would no longer sit mildly and take this.

But the bishop’s call to arms was almost dazzlingly circular. Having expressed outrage and disappointment, his solution was for the president to lead, and do those things that he been reluctant to do – and which had earned him the Biblically phrased rebuke.

South Africans, meanwhile, would in return pray for him, pay their taxes, and exercise probity themselves – whistleblowing on the corrupt and not paying bribes.

Completely absent was any sense that free citizens of a constitutional democracy actually have considerable power to demand accountability. The election next year would be a prime opportunity.

The bishop’s words – heartfelt and lyrical as they are – are those of a supplicant. They sadly reflect the all too prevalent opinions of activists and journalists who often seem unable to envisage a South Africa under an alternative government, or to shake off the belief that a political messiah – #weareled – will deliver the country from its hardships.

That sort of saviour is not coming. We have – very sadly – had ample evidence of the established trajectory of governance, and if people choose to be ‘willing followers’ of their political superiors, accountability is an inevitable casualty.

Terence Corrigan

Project Manager, Institute of Race Relations

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