Conceit and complacency are catching up to a divided ANC

‘Conceit and complacency are the arch-enemies of unity’. These are the words of one of China’s most powerful leaders, Deng Xiaoping.

Even though this statement is more than 50 years old, it remains true and relevant today, particularly here in South Africa.

With the recent cabinet reshuffle, followed by various social movements across the country, it is evident that not only do the people of South Africa not support the decision to reshuffle the cabinet, but they have also lost confidence in the ruling party’s ability to serve its people.

This dissatisfaction by the people is not something that happened overnight. This is a result of many incidents involving President Jacob Zuma and his teams, such as the Nkandla story, affiliations with the Gupta family, the firing of Nene as finance minister and appointing an inexperienced David van Rooyen and now more recently, the firing of Pravin Gordhan – to name a few.

The general consensus is that Zuma tends to get rid of anyone who is a threat to his questionable dealings with the Guptas and other like-minded people in his bubble.

In an exclusive interview, former President, Kgalema Motlanthe said, “Once you have conceited leaders, all they want to hear is the voice of flatterers. They do not want to hear any other voice, it is like they are incapable.They embrace those who sing praises to them and they do away with those who challenge or go against them. This is what Deng Xiaoping was alluding to back in 1954,” said Motlanthe

Click here to listen to interview with former president Kgalema Motlanthe.  

It now seems, with the recent marches, people of this country are putting their political differences aside and are coming together to hold leaders accountable.

Without rules, society breaks down. “When the highest court in the land says that Zuma has violated his oath of office but yet still remains in power, this sends a message to the people living in this country that they too can get away with breaking the law. In this country, it seems, there is a level of impunity,” Motlanthe continued. Like many people, the former president also believes that all must be equal before the law. There must be no exceptions.

“Law, order and political stability are preconditions for economic development. If you don’t have that, you spend so much time and resources putting out fires that shouldn’t have been lit in the first place,” said Motlanthe.

The real deterrent to criminal offences is not the severity of the sentence, it is the knowledge that you will not get away with it. That, if you dare do it, you will be apprehended within the shortest possible time, go on trial and get convicted within the shortest possible time.


“You cannot have a society that is characterised by impunity because that is what encourages anarchy. If you want an orderly society, the law must be the law and it must be applied without fear or favour. Also, the criminal justice system has to be seen to uphold the law for everyone without fear or favour,” he concluded. When this does not happen, the people lose confidence in their leaders.

Edited by Beryl Knipe

Also read: To deal with racism, address the root cause – Motlanthe

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