NDUMISO Ngcobo, a columnist for South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, has got me thinking. Ngcobo has some pretty strong views about membership of any entity, particularly that of a political party.
I will not repeat what he wrote in its entirety, lest a certain political party sent its hit squad of weirdoes masquerading as liberation heroes to come beat me up with their walking sticks.
Ngcobo, in his latest contribution to the Sunday Times, writes that his aversion to joining political parties is that he didn’t do uniforms.
“This is what has kept me out of the SANDF (army), the Shembe church, nursing school and the Star (ship) Enterprise. I can’t don the ANC’s colours because I find green distracting, and the DA’s blue reminds me too much of Surf washing powder.”
I will also not reveal what my good friend and cartoonist Tony Namate posted on his Facebook wall about political parties whose members spend most their energy fighting each other when the real enemy stood on the sidelines to celebrate such bouts of elementary stupidity. In a similar vein, it still beats the daylights out of me how a party expects to win support through the beating up of people!
Instead, my focus is on some of those who support a certain football team who believe that by paying US$5 to watch a game gives them the mandate to determine which direction the team should take, who should be put in or kicked out. The question is: does paying a prostitute make one claim lordship over her?
Sorry, that might be too strong an illustration, but the point is that close to 80 percent of the people who publicly peddle opinions about Highlanders Football Club, the oldest in the country, are not subscription-paying and card-carrying members. What then gives them the mandate to be taken seriously, particularly if the subject of their complaints is on club finances, the very amounts they are withholding from their favourite club? They can’t even vote for that matter!
Someone once remarked that if the team’s estimated one million sympathisers, empathisers and of course supporters, would donate just a dollar each, Highlanders’ problems would be well on their way to being solved. But why donate, when there is the constitutionally-mandated method of propping up the team, buying the club’s membership? With choice comes responsibility.
For those who believe that certain individuals should be replaced with more competent ones, why not become fully paid up members and then use the open and fair route of replacing officials through constitutionally sanctioned elections or better still offer their latent yet brilliant skills to the electoral test?
Regrettably, such characters are conspicuous by their absence where they are most wanted. In every election to choose the Highlanders executive, no more than 300 paid up members elect the executive of the team. Whose fault is that? A similar malaise transcends national politics where the loudest of complaints usually comes from those who do not vote. Ever heard of the adage, a people get the government they deserve, may I add, through inaction?
Namate speaks of too much energy spent in fighting among people on the same side of the political debate. Is it because people have run out of ideas as to how to constitutionally unseat the former ruling party? I don’t think so. If ever there was any clearer illustration to scoring an own goal, this would surely be it. I have even heard colleagues blatantly declaring that they would rather vote for the devil incarnate than vote for this or the other party. They wouldn’t even mention it by name!
There is so much energy spent on negativity between comrades than directed at fixing things. A large number will complain until the cows are locked up and yet fail to come up with solutions. When the opportunity arrives for them to prove their worth, they are conveniently missing in action. I have just the right advice for such people SHUT UP and SHIP OUT! You are a burden to the struggle.
The alternative is to stand up and be counted. Whether it be in politics or in sport, the views that you hold are as important but particularly so when channelled through tried and tested institutions that are there for one to positively make an impact. Rather than whistling in the wind.
I am made to believe there are people that are pushing for certain changes to be made to the Highlanders’ constitution and could be pushing for the postponement of the elections. I will not comment on rumours, save to say that if there are such sentiments being bandied about, why now on the eve of elections? If they were not aware of the proper channels to follow then they are not members.
The constitution is there for all to consult, amend, throw out, to flush down the loo or whatever else, by paid up members that follow properly constituted channels. Using the rumour mill to circulate proposals not only denigrates the individuals involved but rubbishes the whole notion of a constitutional democracy. It’s like farting against the wind
I hope I am not being misunderstood. Highlanders should be open to scrutiny like any other organisation that is accountable to its members, I repeat, its members. But let us not allow underhand methods that serve to undermine the fortitude that has enabled ‘Ithimu Yezwe Lonke’ to survive for over a hundred years.
We found Highlanders in existence and will no doubt leave it for future generations. Like any institution, it cannot resist the winds of change lest it be blown away by the winds of history. Change must come and responsibly so. Not at the behest of destructive beer hall talk.
Let not the idle tongue of those who selfishly want to see the demise of a great institution poison the well of reason. Separate individuals from the idea. In much the same way as I would advise my colleagues on the political front to do the same. Unity in purpose and deed should transcend the focus on individuals.
It is folly to believe that Zimbabwe’s problems will disappear with the exit of Robert Mugabe, an individual, or that Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube or even Dumiso Dabengwa, as individuals, will lead Zimbabweans to the Promised Land. Far from it! It is our collective willingness to act in unison and with purpose that will bring the results we desire buy getting involved and making ourselves heard. Shouting on the terraces and in bars will only serve to have us labelled empty vessels.
Simply, put your money where your mouth is.