Docupoetry is a genre of socially engaged poetry that includes nonliterary sources such as legal texts and news reports. It has been described loosely as where journalism meets poetry. Accountability Now director Paul Hoffman has penned a ‘docupoem’, focusing on the sheer scale of corruption in this country and how it has become one of the greatest challenges of our time. Hoffman proposes that we hold government to its promise of that better life by uprooting the corrupt, voting out unaccountable politicians, sending the crooks to jail and recovering stolen funds. A must read! – Lindiwe Molekoa
Will justice prevail in South Africa?
By Paul Hoffman*
In Africa we have constitutions, but too few Africans embrace constitutionalism;
We have rules, but precious little of the Rule of Law emerges in the way we govern.
In SA we have a state, but no nation (except briefly when the Bokke win).
We have civil servants who are neither civil nor of service to the people.
Our body politic has a terminal case of virulent cancer,
Brought on by corrosive grand corruption and widespread kleptocracy.
The ‘sins of incumbency’ weigh down our dominant party democracy.
SA’s cupboard is bare and it’s credit ratings are ever junkier.
We are home to 60 million people with no common language:
Their identities wrapped in disparate ethnicities and religions
Their nationalism, if any, mainly toxic but also ‘black’ African,
With so-called ‘Coloureds’ once too black, now too white.
The once proud Afrikaner nation lies in tattered disarray.
The people’s urban versus rural divide grows ever wider
Their Afrophobia is vicious and inexplicable, ungratefully so;
With dreams of rainbow nationhood deferred
Their future looks insecure and uncertain
Or possibly non-existing .
Their Mpumalanga air – the most polluted in the world
Their water supply and food production – under stress
The land is ever less arable and bare
With creeping désertification ever more widespread,
As biodiversity is sacrificed on the altar of greed
With ecological sustainability ignominiously ignored
And climate change concerns subjugated to profit or consumption.
The heady notions of peace that is secure
Progress that is sustainable and
Prosperity that is equably shared
Become ever more remote and unattainable
As poverty, hunger and want stalk the land
With half the people jobless and poor:
Our system reputed now to be the most unequal in the world.
All of this just 26 years after the liberation of the people
From the onerous yoke of apartheid’s unfair discrimination.
Our public institutions are hollowed out by state capture
Compromised by politicians who are incompetent, venal and bent
With our voters either ignorant or abstinent
Voting their fears and loyalties, if they deign to cast a ballot,
Not the aspirational values of that elusive better life for all.
Accountability is almost impossible to exact:
A pretty word among the sound values required by our Constitution,
That miraculous supreme law worked out in our National Accord, but,
Not embraced by the people nor respected by the powerful who used
Sleight of hand to attain their beachhead to the ‘revolution’.
Now ideologues strive for hegemonic control of all the levers of power in society
Using cadre deployment that disregards honesty, merit and pragmatism
As they seek a revolutionary nirvana that has eluded their comrades worldwide.
Pessimists shrug sadly, hunker down, head for the hills or safer climes,
Optimists hope against hope that the state’s slide to failure is not irreversible .
It did not have to be so: the miracle of the rainbow nation
United in its diversity and determined to heal the divisions of the past
Seemed so attainable when we started our new journey in 1994.
Now the lip service and insincerity of career politicians are exposed
As Ubuntu becomes a distant dream instead of our lived experience.
The people, the media and our civil society organisations,
The courts, the Chapter Nines and the faith-based folk
Have it in their power to invoke their rights, claim what’s due
And hold the government to the promise to respect and protect
All of the rights guaranteed to all persons in the Bill of Rights.
Corruption with impunity must end;
Cadre deployment must give way to merit.
Unaccountable politicians must be voted out,
The crooks among them sent straight to jail;
The loot of state capture must be recovered.
A non-racial, non-sexist future beckons –
One in which inherent human dignity is given
The required place that is its due.
The achievement of equality of rights is possible,
But only if the political will to dismantle patronage networks
Can be brought to bear on those who have betrayed the people
By trying to govern without regard to what the Constitution expects.
Implementing the values of the Constitution,
Respecting its various tenets and principles,
Holding government to its promise of that better life for all,
These are needed now to reverse the downward trajectory of SA.
Let’s just do it ‘diligently and without delay’ as is stipulated
In the Constitution.