What will no doubt occupy centre stage at the 54th National Congress of the ANC, is the contestation between the two front-runners for the position of Leader of the ANC, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa.

The strengths and weaknesses of both candidates have been well documented, and the question that must be answered is whether the new ANC leader will fill the leadership gap in a way that takes South Africa forward. What the country needs is someone that can be trusted to restore the integrity of institutions of government. That person should be able to break firmly with the pattern of the present incumbent.

Whoever wins should be able to say to business that despite all their promises, they have not delivered. They have accumulated wealth at the expense of the vast majority of South Africans and this unfair situation cannot be sustained. They should be able to support impeachment proceedings against president Jacob Zuma, remove him from office and send him into retirement. They should be able to support the prosecution of those who have stolen from state entities, and put them behind bars.

Our future in their hands

This may just successfully prepare the road towards restoring confidence and trust in this country’s political and business elites. They stand at the top echelons of our society and hold the future of our country in their hands.

The country faces a very difficult moment

Will they grasp that the accumulation of excessive profit and their corrupt practices are destroying the fabric of our society? Will they create the space for the young creatives and writers to flourish? Will they help our home-grown initiatives to take centre-stage, or will they continue to maintain their focus on the upper echelons of society who have failed in their duty to build a country that is fair and just to those who have traditionally been marginalised?

Will December 2017 accord for Soweto the status of being home to a festival of ideas that will push us towards re-imagining our future – or is this too much to hope for?

NB: This is an extract from Author and activist ZUBEIDA JAFFER’s article SOWETO: A FESTIVAL OF IDEAS ONCE AGAIN?  The article was first published in The Journalist.