The challenges currently facing South Africa are well-documented: unemployment, stagnant economy, poverty, inequality, corruption, and many other ills that continue to define the country after almost three decades of democracy.
Throughout the years, it has become arduous for me to keep reading about the country’s socioeconomic ills without any solutions being provided.
However, in his latest book simply titled Manifesto, Songezo Zibi takes a new precedent of not bombarding us with what we already know, but rather offer solutions on how to rebuild the country from all the ills that continue to cripple our beloved country.
In Manifesto, Songezo offers practical solutions on how to address the serious issue of growing unemployment rate, how to grow the economy, rebuilding criminal justice system, building social infrastructure intervention, building a social cohesion, reinventing the spirit of democratic participation, building democratic institutions that are responding to the needs of the people and solutions on how we should elect our public representatives for the better of the people among others.
I must admit that I have been nodding in agreement with Songezo’s points almost from the first page until the last one.
While we can rightly bemoan how the successive ANC-led governments have run the country almost to the ruins, but what the scribe does in this book is to shift our thinking from playing the blame game to imagining new fresh solutions that would help us- the people, build a new vision of South Africa we all want to see it taking its rightful place among the family of prosperous nations.
Perusing through the pages of this book, I was impressed with how the scribe intentionally called out the professional class(himself being one), who are masters of just how to criticizing the political elite from their comfort of their air-conditioned offices, to come to the party and join the poor masses on the ground in rebuilding the country.
While I strongly commend Songezo’s brave ideas to change this country for the better, I, however, think his intention to run for the highest office in the land at his age adds to the problem that has seen many young South Africans abdicating their responsibility in the democratic processes. Young people are just tired of being led by old people.
He rightly criticize the notion that the likes of Fikile Mbalula are seen as “young people” even in their 50s and still considered by the ANC to lead this country in the future. However, I would argue that he, at his age, where he is just a few years shy to his 50s is also old if we are to compare him with some young leaders such as Thomas Sankara, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King and many others who led change in their respective countries in their early age. I know I might sound harsh to a 46 year-old given the current age of the leaders we have in government, but in all honesty he is old. By the time the 2024 elections come, he will just be few years shy of his 50. We cannot use the age of the current leaders as our barometer. We need to do away with all of them in our Parliament, legislatures and councils.
Songezo’s ideas are relevant for the betterment of this country, but I would argue that we need 35 to 45 years leaders to occupy the highest office in the land and not the old people that the ANC has been forcing on us. A new vision for South Africa should be driven by young, energetic, politically incisive leaders.
Besides that, Manifesto is brutally honest, bold, solutions driven, and gives a new hope for South Africa and her people.