As a South African citizen who has been watching on as the events surrounding the 2015 National Reconciliation Day unfolded, one could not help but be gripped with a deep sense of embarrassment and dread. On what was supposed to be a day of finding each other as a nation, a considerable proportion of South Africans were busy bickering all over cyber space, throwing racially laced insults at one another because of their differing views about the state of our nation. Some citizens, reported to be in their thousands, were marching through various cities of the country to demand for the removal of the head of state through the #ZumaMustFall campaign. Consequently, there was even more public mudslinging regarding the prudentness of that campaign.
As the war of words regarding the above raged on, the President of the republic, Jacob Zuma, was busy taking care of the official National Reconciliation Day proceedings in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In any thriving democracy, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) hall was supposed to be the logical place to be. This was rationally meant to be the converging point of all South Africans in order to show their support and demonstrate that indeed, South Africa was a united nation. At this particular gathering, the broader public was expected to come en masse and show the entire world that we were, in fact, able to rise above our societal multifariousness and function as a synergized unit.
This, however, was disappointingly not the case. It was actually quite bizarre to note the emptiness of most of the chairs in that modestly sized arena. As President Zuma went through his speech, one couldn’t help but sense that the country was not in perfect health at all. The empty chairs that Zuma were busy addressing were voicing that fact loud and clear. Those unoccupied chairs were, in a blatant fashion, booming the chilling message that the president of the republic has just being snubbed by his electorate. To the observant and critical eye, this was a classic case of the emperor parading naked in full glare of his subjects.
If anything could be deduced from the goings on of the 2015 Day of Reconciliation, the following must reign supreme:
- This national event was very poorly organised.
- President Jacob Zuma’s public image was crumbling alarmingly fast.
- South Africa was still a considerable way off the path to true national reconciliation.