Friends, after giving considerable thought to the role and impact that writing and analysis have on our political discourse, it is clear to me that active citizenship in various forms matter, but cannot make a decisive difference without real legal power. Writers matter, but not decisively at this time.
The pen is proverbially mightier than the sword but in reality having access to the levers of power are a quicker way to effect material change in and on our unjust society. T…hat is why public office matters and that is why the ethical rot at the heart of our state is an unforgiving reality.
This wayward use of power is not restricted to the state. Other sources of power such as that wielded by corporates have also for too long been critiqued too gently, too infrequently and from a place of profound misunderstanding of how much corporate wealth piggybacks on public money such as the fruits of public education for example.
This left me thinking where to from here after years of writing columns, giving keynote speeches, moderating ineffectual multi-day conferences where business leaders pretend to have a social conscience and government refuses to own up to its blameworthy role in our underachievement as a nation.
And it seems inescapable that like many already are doing, I should get my hands dirtier than they get when I write words.
I’m therefore entering politics.
Only three political parties were feasible options. While the ANC has a glorious history, poor people cannot eat history. The opportunity costs of systemic state corruption is indescribably horrid to even try and paint a verbal picture of. So while the liberal attitude of the party towards questions of identity always appealed to me as a gay man, one cannot enter politics on such narrow ground. The vast majority of poor black South Africans do not experience Uhuru despite the constitutional vision of a free and substantively equal society. The ANC isn’t a choice at this time. It’s morally bankrupt.
The DA appeals almost culturally or aesthetically to me as someone fluent in the grammar of whiteness, but frankly I am not even convinced a critical mass of the top leadership in the DA are genuine liberal egalitarians. They are a collection of ‘concerned citizens’ with no coherent ideology other than ahistoricism and colourblindness. I can afford to join the party as a middle-class degreed professional, but only if I do so for selfish reasons rather than out of my impulse to serve a pro-poor public agenda as a politician.
And so I’ve joined the only party who understands the material injustices of the status quo. I’m comfortable that differences will be managed in terms of alternative views on policy and ideology but the fundamental attraction of the EFF is a magisterial and unapologetic grasp that the EFF has of the political moment. And what a long moment it is under president Jacob Zuma.
Adv Dali Mpofu your months of recruiting effort has paid off. See you later today.