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Once again, the black population of South Africa is displaying a lot of unbridled negative energy. This sudden high energy drive to destroy all the statues of long dead white men (which in many ways represent symbols of a dark colonial and apartheid past) as well as the resurgence of violent xenophobic attacks on other Africans living and doing business in SA, is a worrying sign of deep frustration and despair setting in.

These are the very things that Nelson Mandela cautioned and indeed stood against. He had the understanding and foresight to see that resorting to bitterness-induced violence would not be in the strategic interests of South Africans and that what was important was to remain clear headed and to focus all energy and resources on quickly improving the lives of the average South African. He counseled that this was the new South Africa's most urgent need.

Unfortunately, in the last few years, South Africa has been steered by the ANC government in the wrong direction. And sadly, it is an all too familiar direction. The direction of elite irresponsibility, where a predatory elite turns the state's resources into a 'trough' and settles down to feed off it in perpetuity. This comes with with the attendant descent into the now so familiar culture of cronyism, patronage, the destruction of state institutions and the elevation of do-as-you-like impunity as the key instrument of statecraft.

Under these circumstances, it is the vast majority of the population, the poorest of the poor, that suffer the consequences of little or no service delivery and lack of employment/economic opportunities. They look around them and see immigrants from the rest of Africa, themselves driven to South Africa by the existence back home of the very same conditions the South Africans are now experiencing, eking out a legitimate living doing various types of small businesses. These African immigrants have been conditioned to become creative and resourceful by long years of lack of economic opportunity and the absence of basic services back home. And they are not afraid to put in the necessary hard work to succeed in a strange country.

Naturally, the local population becomes resentful of this and it becomes too easy for political demagogues to manipulate them into searing anger and the resultant frenzied acts of unnecessary violence. This is what is manifesting in South Africa today. Whip up anger and express it against the wrong things- bringing down statues of long dead white men and lynching African immigrants and destroying their businesses.

The ANC government itself, having lost the critical moral authority that is required to be able to give the majority of the population moral leadership, cannot but look on helplessly. In fact, in many instances, the party shamefully expresses tacit support for or tries to explain away this dangerous demagoguery as a way of 'identifying' with the sentiments of the people. The ANC is sadly unable to take a strong stand and campaign vigorously against this destructive negative energy enveloping the country.

Funny enough, South Africa is a solid democracy and the majority of the population do have the best possible means to channel their anger- the vote! But when elections come, these multitudes will re-elect the ANC again and again and again while channeling their anger at the things that are not responsible for their frustration- statues of dead white men and hapless African immigrants!

South Africa badly needs a giant moral leader/leadership again not just to help the populace channel their energies positively, but to rescue the country from this slippery slope! The Archbishop is an old man now. Who will rise to the occasion ?


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