“Only the dumbest calves choose their butchers themselves” (Bernd Schirrmacher)

I recently visited Desmond Tutu’s former home in Soweto. The 85-year-old Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Horn is, alongside Nelson Mandela, a symbolic figure of dismantling apartheid in his country. Tutu took Mandela in on the first night after his release, and Mandela later named Tutu as the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission working through crimes committed during the time of racial segregation.

In front of the statue of Mandela in Pretoria

In front of the statue of Mandela in Pretoria

None other than Desmond Tutu has said the following about South Africa and South Africa’s President Zuma:

“This government is worse than the one during apartheid.”

That has to be bitter for Tutu. And what a tragedy it is that he is correct.

Everything, however good it is, is being placed into question due to corruption. Corruption is a primordial evil going at the root of all accomplishments. Whoever tolerates corruption is actually also tolerating all other evil things in the world.

I am surely not in Tutu’s camp theologically, and I am nowhere near to agreeing with all his earlier and present actions and positions he has advanced – as recently is the case with his push in favor of assisted suicide. However, where he is right, he is right.

Statue of Mandela in front of the South African headquarters of the president and the government.

Statue of Mandela in front of the South African headquarters of the president and the government.

The worst thing in all of this is the following: This time it has to do with corruption in the form of an individual elected by the majority to the office of president via free elections – as, for example, is the case in Russia or Turkey. And this occurred after everything had been propagated in the media over a long period of time. When one has a president who is the subject of more than one hundred ongoing criminal investigations with respect to corruption, who under dubious circumstances has quashed numerous investigations (mostly through investigators’ having lost their positions), who finally dispenses with his reputable Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan so that his supporters could gain access to the state coffers and then who utilizes tax money to have a private castle built for himself in his poor, native village to the tune of $18 million, then there is no one else to blame other than those who elected him in spite of all this.

I know that Zuma’s party largely lives on its great legacy and that it is the party that decides who comes under consideration as a presidential candidate and not the voter. I know that Zuma, who was removed from his position as Vice President on account of corruption, cleverly used the party to catapult the acting President Mbeki out of office.

Slum today outside the former Soweto (Johannesburg)

Slum today outside the former Soweto (Johannesburg)

And I know why there are still many who cast their vote for the ANC and actually think they are supporting Mandela, radical change, and the tradition of their party. I know that Zuma and others have been able to convey the impression to ANC voters up to now that without them the poorest among them would lose the last of what they have. As if those what are super-rich and corrupt would ever care for the poor.

That changes nothing, however: Democracy, which was above all invented to be able to peacefully push aside corrupt and otherwise evil governments, serves here to maintain corruption. Africa could really have used an example coming from South Africa with politicians and parties being voted out of office for not serving their country but rather themselves and their faithful.

This opportunity presents itself at the time of each election!

This opportunity presents itself at the time of each election! Smaller elections always demonstrate that South African voters are not to be considered stupid. If they managed to rid themselves of apartheid by use of the ballot, then they can use the ballot to get rid of corruption at the highest levels of government.

My deceased father said the following regarding such cases where democratic elections were not used to bloodlessly rid people of bad and corrupt rulers:

“Only the dumbest calves choose their butchers themselves.”

He seems to have gotten that from the German dramatist and lyricist Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956), whom he actually could not stand :=).

I wish South Africa all the Best

After my commentary about President Zuma and the growing corruption that killed all fruits of the change in South Africa, the ANC finally forced Zuma to step back and now Cyril Ramasphosa became President of South Africa. He promised often and immediately after taking office to heavily fought corruption. We will see whether the fact, that he is one of the richest South Africans makes it easier or more difficult for him. Yet I wish South Africa all the best and God’s blessing.


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