“This is anarchy triggered by Zuma and his cronies. This is how they operate. They mess up everything so that they can rule over a place where there are no standards and no basic laws, and where their word is law.”

Source: Financial Mail

It is time for some hard truths about what is happening in SA today.

Leaders do not sit in meetings, they lead among their followers: If anyone was missing in action over the weekend, and all through Monday, it was police minister Bheki Cele.

We heard from Cele only on Tuesday morning, when he read a statement at a news conference, and spoke about finding the agitators behind the looting, and asked people defending property not to take the law into their own hands.

Other cabinet members were similarly missing in action until Tuesday’s news conference. The only people we heard from before Tuesday were President Cyril Ramaphosa and transport minister Fikile Mbalula.

In April 1993, cowardly right-wing louts murdered Chris Hani at his home in Dawn Park, Boksburg. The country was on a knife edge. Young people started rioting.

You should have seen the ANC in action in that week. Mondli Gungubele and Peter Mokaba were at every march and rally on the East Rand. Carl Niehaus and Tokyo Sexwale were in Soweto, Boksburg and everywhere else, leading marches and talking the angry youth down.

At one point Gungubele stopped angry young marchers from torching houses in Dawn Park. Mokaba walked and ran from Katlehong to Dawn Park, talking agitated groups down.

Yet this week we saw ANC leaders cowering in their houses. Silent. Nowhere to be seen. Over the weekend and all through Monday night, the only people who seemed to have a voice were Ramaphosa, Mbalula (weakly) and a staffer in Ramaphosa’s office, Nonceba Mhlauli.

This is not leadership. This is the mark of a coterie of chancers who are hedging their bets and who do not deserve to be in their positions.

Sometimes you have to see your past in perspective: Lots of people like to go on platforms and blame Ramaphosa for the Marikana massacre.

You can see that the insults have got to him. He has appeared tentative, and his police seemed to be under strict instruction not to fire live ammunition.

This is admirable, of course. Yet Ramaphosa must not forget that Jacob Zuma, hero of those who have called for the burning of our country, was president of SA when the Marikana massacre happened. It was the Zuma-appointed police commissioner who was in charge while Zuma was commander-in-chief.

Sometimes you have to see your history clearly and not allow it to shroud your present actions. It is good that police did not go for skop, skiet en donner. But it is wrong that they did not protect the vulnerable and the peaceful and prevent mayhem.

The entire world has suffered under lockdown: SA is not alone in this. We have it worse in many ways, and need to do more, but we are not the only ones suffering.

So let us not excuse the inexcusable. People in perfectly middle-class cars loading wide-screen TV sets into their vehicles are not poor.

Shooting at police is not poverty. These are signs of contempt for the rule of law, something they have learnt from Zuma.

In a time and place of lawlessness it is not the rich who will suffer: This lawlessness, in the medium and long term, will have a devastating impact on the poor. Someone who works at a spaza shop will have no work today.

Development happens in conditions where there is rule of law, certainty about policy and security. These elements have just been spat on. Poor people will suffer for a long time.

Zuma should be subject to the rule of law like the rest of us: He is not special and no-one should be. He should not be pardoned and his cases should be treated like everyone else’s.

This is not Animal Farm, even if we act like it sometimes.

The rule of law benefits the poor more than anyone else: Where there is no rule of law, paramilitary mobs loot, but also kidnap and rape women. SA has enough lawlessness for women as it is. Allowing this will tip us over whatever edge we have not yet gone over.

So, let us call this by its name: This is anarchy triggered by Zuma and his cronies. This is how they operate. They mess up everything so that they can rule over a place where there are no standards and no basic laws, and where their word is law.