In South Africa last week, First National Bank’s (FNB) newly launched ad campaign was the subject of much freedom of speech controversy. The campaign featured South African school children reading out their hopes for the future of the country. Interestingly enough, the controversy was evident entirely within the ranks of the ANC, ANCYL and SACP. The rest of the South African public barely blinked an eyelid.
While the public was thinking: “Oh that’s so sweet, even the children have something to say about our future,” the ANC, ANCYL and SACP were frothing at the mouth with conspiracy theories about a possible plot to overthrow the government. Their immediate reaction was to call FNB irresponsible for their devious attempt to stimulate what Wonkie calls a Zuma Spring (like the Arab Spring, but in South Africa. This is not to be confused with the Zuma Offspring of which there are plenty).
So is there some subversive intention by FNB here, or is it simply the case that the truth hurts for the ANC? Wonkie takes a closer look at some of the controversy:
“The country is being overrun by poverty… while Jacob Zuma is renovating his home” – KZN tertiary student
Objectively, the quote above is absolutely true and verifiable. Even the slowest member of the ANC on a bad day cannot deny it. So clearly the issue is not that this statement is slanderous. It is either a case of sour grapes that the statement has been publicised, or that these facts are glaringly obvious to even young children.
“… politicians tend to be the most destructive and eruptive aspect of our country… We need motives and a clear vision… we must not depend on our leaders. Each person must become their own hero.” – KZN High School student
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Yes, according to the South African Constitution, even non-ANC members and children can have one – Wonkie checked. There were a number of such expressions of discontent with government leadership and corruption. But should these kids be reprimanded because they are disrespectful of elders? Nelson Mandela was also very naughty when he spoke out against his elders.
“The government is only thinking for themselves… I’m from a rural area and the government doesn’t see what’s happening.” – Gauteng tertiary student
The irony of these statements is that the ANC itself was probably the most likely to make equivalent comments about the previous regime. They would, of course, have been labelled brave freedom fighters amongst themselves (and terrorists by the apartheid government). Isn’t it funny how the tables have turned?
The question is if even children are smart enough to figure out the level of incompetence in government, why does the ANC do nothing about it? Angie Motshekga, for example, is still happily floundering around in the education department after the disgusting Limpopo textbook saga that would have seen her sacked in any country with decent internal governance.
Perhaps it’s time for the ANC to take a step back and evaluate the validity of the statements being made instead of shooting the messenger. Assuming they were unscripted, which FNB claims they were, the messages should be hammering alarm bells for the ANC leadership.
Instead of being defensive, it would be smarter for the ANC to figure out how they’re going to win over their future voters. Clearly, the young’uns already know that the ANC gravy train is almost full capacity and want a real alternative for a better future.
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