What to do with our anger

Simon Grindrod on harnessing our discontent for the common good

There can be no doubt that South Africans, in all our diversity, currently share a unified sense of anger and frustration at the failures of our government. Differ on many things we may, but there is undeniably a growing consensus that this useless and criminal bunch must go.

Agents Provocateurs, foreign funded movements, 'leaders' of questionable mental health, political own-goals, ongoing economic decline, the despair of squandered opportunity, incredulity at new depths of incompetence, and the looting of our state entities have created a parallel universe of madness. We live in perpetual anxiety, not knowing when we will get kicked in the balls next. We are shell-shocked at the sheer audacity of the endless pillaging right under our noses.

Our national aspiration of working together to build a proud and prosperous country is seemingly in ruins. The heady days of Mandela and prospects for a sunny and inclusive future have been willfully derailed, sadly proving the merchants of doom correct in their miserable predictions of impending state failure.

There are so many things to be angry about, but paramount of these must be the abject failure of the government to employ the significant resources, human and fiscal, of our nation for the sustained upliftment of the poor. As the number of marginalised citizens grows, our collective future remains permanently balanced on a knife edge.

We have lost our shared vision. The fact that our historical divisions could so cynically be preyed upon by hired PR mercenaries illustrates just how fragile our national psyche really is. Our national pride shaky, our confidence knocked after being outsourced to the Guptas. We no longer feel part of the journey forward, we are mere passengers on a train hurtling to nowhere.

The cloud of despondency, almost depression, pervading the nation is directly attributable to the sense of utter helplessness we feel in being unable to impact events. It is like farting against thunder, crying out in the wilderness. They do not hear and they do not care.

How do we practically harness and direct our discontent for the good? What can we do?

My dear old Grandad used to shout loudly at the TV while watching the evening news. I assume he believed the people inside could hear him with his cries of 'idiot!' or 'Lock them up!' or, most often, 'Bollocks!'. It was therapeutic for him, I suppose, but apart from driving Grandma mad it achieved very little. It is a mercy he and his peers are not around today as there is no doubt a vase or heavy ashtray would have been sent flying through the screen.

We can nowadays get furious and rude on social media in the vain hope that those in power actually react to tweets or Facebook posts. I doubt they do, and besides, the social media space is entirely irrelevant to the widest majority of the South African community. Not so long ago, 'Concerned of Rosebank' would write a letter to the newspaper and feel very chuffed with themselves. Today, cyber opinions are expressed in seconds, and dismissed in less than that.

We could exercise our vote at the next general election. Events, however, move so fast that it is almost impossible to digest the import of each breaking scandal or costly blunder. We are a nation halfway between PTSD and Prozac. Like an amateur boxer, we stagger around the ring, taking punches left, right and centre. Punch-drunk, dazed and bewildered. By 2019, will the opposition be in any credible shape to challenge or will the referee change the rules?

We may choose to march up the high street, our cleverly written banners adding to the festive novelty of a day out. It achieves little except the temporary glow of being part of something. Marching up to the shopping mall and back is hardly storming the Bastille, it is difficult to start a revolution outside Clicks when the parking meter is running.

We may fund organisations that seek to challenge power, that seek to stand up for ordinary citizens. Many of them have been very successful, especially in the Courts. OUTA, for example, do laudible work. The odd legal victory certainly encourages, but is this a sustainable strategy? Not many South Africans can afford to donate cash for a court case nowadays. Great efforts by passionate patriots with little funding.

We can boycott those companies that are implicated in the quagmire of deception and criminality.  Every Client of Bell Pottinger should know that South Africans will not rest until those shameless purveyors of falsehood and hate are made to pay. It is still not clear how or in what sense, but pay they must. The bastards.

Perhaps, for the stout hearted, we could even withhold our taxes as has been tried in other countries with limited success. Ironically, for a country being led by crooks, we citizens are largely a law abiding bunch. It does seem appealing not to submit further tax revenues for them to plunder but we probably realise the futility and danger of such an exercise.  Could they jail a million taxpayers, I wonder?

In the end, the options most citizens have to express their protest and contribute to change are restricted, in varying degrees, to respect for the Law and practical daily concerns. This aside, let nobody ever underestimate the quiet, solid defiance at the heart of our nation. It is this that will ultimately prevail. The silent majority are alive and waiting.

Enemies of our nation, foreign and local, ignore this fact at their peril.