Protesting: a right or obligation?

StockSnap_24TVR5K8DZOn Friday the 31st of March 2017, I woke up to a flurry of activity on various social media platforms. It was bad news for South Africa. With Pravin Gordhan out of the way, the Zupta state capture project would be able to come to fruition. More than the plummeting rand, and more than the junk status rating of our economy, the Russian nuclear power deal was what had me really worried. With nothing standing in their way, the Gupta crowd are now free to enrich themselves and cripple our economy in the long term, to the tune of R3 trillion (the total amount of debt the government will have accrued when the deal goes through). The impact on the ability of the government to provide essential services will be severe.

People were (are?) afraid. Shocked. Angry. My Facebook and Twitter streams were filled with calls to rise up and do something, anything. All the while I saw the Gupta backed Bell Pottinger propaganda machine doing its job, and references to Zuma’s courage to take on so-called “white monopoly capital” being thrown around by ANC loyalists and some opposition parties alike.

A few of my friends vowed to take part in the nationwide protests planned for the 7th of April. But many I spoke to mentioned that they hoped that “people” would protest, making it clear that they themselves would not take part, but instead hoped that protest proxies would materialize to make a difference.

I get it. You think your black flag on Facebook is enough. It’s not.

Due to my current status as an expat, this may seem hypocritical but I can say one thing with certainty: Given the choice, on Friday the 7th I would do something I have only done once before: I would march. I would protest. I would bang my pots and pans and let my feet and my voice tell the world that I want change. Because, friends and countrymen, on the 7th of April, protesting is not a right that we can choose to exercise. It’s an obligation. If ever there was a time to take to the streets, to make our voices heard, and to stand up for those who we claim to care about, the disenfranchised and most powerless in our society, it is NOW.

Yes, I hear you. “I have a bad back.” “I’m afraid of being shot by police.” “It won’t make a difference anyway.” STOP.

For me, this is not about removing Zuma. It’s about changing the balance of power for good. For far too long, the South African government has been far too comfortable. Did you feel the tremor earlier this week? Well it’s time to make the earth move. The government should know what it’s like to be afraid of its people. Not the other way around. You have power. You have an obligation to use that power. If you are a tax-paying privileged person in South Africa, you have more power than most. This means that a few million (heck, maybe a few hundred thousand) people can change the direction of the country. Look at Iceland, look at Romania, Brazil, Argentina, and the Arab Spring. Even the USA can get a decent protest going.

For just one day in your life, get off your ass and get out there. Make your kids and grandkids proud. The future of the country cannot be left in the hands of the ANC (not the ANC we have currently anyway), or the Guptas. Nobody is going to “do the right thing” and remove Zuma. Gather your colleagues, gather your family, gather your friends, take your pans and spoons and join a protest!

Save SA has organized a legal protest with marshals, so it will be safe (if that’s your concern).

Rise up! Rise up!

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