Maimane finally realizes he was elected to lead a white DA, in which he is not to question white privilege!

 

Mmusi Maimane the embattled DA leader, addressed a rally in Soshanguve on Freedom Day. During this speech he attempted to engage the holy grail of white privilege and juxtaposed that to black poverty, he today finds himself offside of those who usually sing with him in accord in the attack of the leading party and its leadership. The mutterings on his incapability to lead the DA have increasingly been growing in the public space of the SA discourse.

Maimane finally is realising he is heading up a white party, a party that will not entertain anyone challenging its raison d’être, namely the protection of white privilege and attacking whiteness. If Maimane had taken the time to listen to Lindiwe Mazibuko, when she warned “the DA is not for free thinking and educated blacks”, he may have paused and approached his ascendance in the DA with more circumspect and less euphoria.

Maimane knows today that despite the much-made history of liberalism paraded as the banner of the DA in its ancestry of a Democratic Party with celebrated progressive voices like Helen Susman and Van Zyl Slabbert among others the DA he leads is a really the fulcrum of a conservative white minority singularly out to defend, fight for, protect and work for the interest of white privilege.

Maimane came to realise that he may talk about anything but as soon as he attempts to engage the subject of white privilege literally the anchor tenant of his party’s existence all hell breaks loose. It didn’t take long for the traditional DA constituency to begin to raise the voices against its leader. The reality is Steenhuizen etc do not respect Maimane they have never respected him, he was a means to an end and clearly, he is fast reaching his expiry date. Let us also be clear Maimane was never the DA traditional constituency’s choice. Helen Zille on her last fundraising trip to those who identify with the DA at an international level was told step down and let the Obama project aka Maimane be elected.

Maimane discovered it is all good and fine to attack the ANC because inadvertently you really attacking black leadership. He finally learns castigating black leadership as corrupt is not so an uncommon belief in the DA he heads up, as long as you never try and flip and he must just not try call whites corrupt? Like OJ Simpson in 1995 after the murder of Nicole Simpson, his wife realised he is really a black man, so Maimane awakes to the reality he is a black man in a white party. The white world will fool you into thinking you are white until you cross a line. Maimane crossed that line and as soon as he did, they told him he is not supposed to do that.

Maimane came to experience the naked truth of what the DA in its fundamental essence stands for. He is never to ask for a broadening of leadership that is black, he was never to raise the subject matter of transformation. His job was to grow the black followers of the DA just not tamper with a dominant white leadership.

The concern as is claimed in DA circles is the alienating of what they term the traditional DA constituency. The constituency is not mentioned in name of categoric sense, it is explained in a traditional definition. Yet its presence in the DA is pronounced, its relevance not disputed and its reality embraced as the supreme constituency. The DA is an alliance as we all know therefore it means, we must ask what is meant with a traditional DA constituency in the DA setting?

Since we discuss constituencies, is there equal concern towards a constituency alienation if the DA continues with its firing of Patricia De Lille? Or is the constituency concern reserved for the real centre of the DA? It does not take special knowledge to decipher, who the constituency is. All one has to do is ask what did Maimane attempt to raise? Who then makes up the traditional definition of DA constituency if not those who claim a white description for their common identity. Maimane knows today he is not part of that traditional DA constituency, he will never be as cursed by skin shade renders him impossible to ever traverse that divide of traditional and non-traditional constituency claims.

The hypocrisy of the DA is its refusal to honestly engage the anomalies of South Africa as the constitutional democracy, anomalies that continue to underscore the protection of white privilege and the upkeep of black poverty as normal and endorsed by a constitution. The DA seeks to use the constitution as the frontline of defence to entrench white privilege and white economic supremacy, it uses any and every means at its disposal to confirm the deep-seated belief in the corrupt nature of black leadership, the courts are not spared.

Maimane finds himself on the receiving end of a blistering attack from within his party ranks. This charge is led by senior leaders in the DA, namely the Deputy Chief Whip Mike Waters, the Chief Whip John Steenhuizen and the vocal Member of Parliament Natasha Mazzone. What then is the common denominator that binds this group of leaders together in agreement on red carding Maimane and his white privilege acknowledgement? It is nothing else but a denotation colonialism and apartheid extended them in white identity. They are defending the traditional base of the DA. They easily identify with that traditional constituency.

Maimane may have pretended hitherto he was not aware that the Democratic Alliance is not a democratic party its list compilation for leadership and its elections of leadership confirms this fact.

How is it that Maimane did not know the DA he leads? After all, he saw and lived through times of struggle to lead, in an attempt of exacting discipline on his predecessor Helen Zille and Diane Kohler-Barnard among a few. He should have known then already his leadership was a token leadership. Is it possible that Mazibuko’s analysis struck him dead in the face?

Yet Maimane may protest he is educated. He may demonstrate he is an independent thinker –  that’s exactly why he raised the issue of white privilege regardless of how discomforting it may be for some? He may even direct you to his most recent tweet on the unfolding saga, in which he categorically asserts: “I firmly stand by comments I made on Freedom Day. SA remains deeply unequal, with black SAns locked out of opportunities. We must focus on solving the problem. Liberation of one race is not the enslaving of another – all of us, black & white, must come together to build #1SA4All”. We do not know if his newfound independence is authentic or a desperate attempt at political survival since he sees the writing on the wall. Is he in any sense becoming black because he realises the white party feels he has served his purpose – which was to get Jacob Zuma out, nothing more nothing less?

What is more clear today is that the DA as an alliance is coming loose at its racial white and black seams, it is tearing at its traditional and non- traditional constituency bases these are also again in a binary of white and black realities. Is it finding itself in what Gramsci long ago defined as the interregnum, the old not willing to die and the new not yet empowered?

Regardless to how Maimane may attempt to sound in charge he knows he is not in charge of the traditional DA constituency, he knows he is a black man in a white party where his own future is not guaranteed since he was elected as a means to an end.

The DA knows now that its last leadership contest that produced a squaring of between Wilmot James and Mmusi Maimane in which they consciously opted for the lesser of the two that spelt any threat to the transformation of the DA, is also becoming uncontrollable. The DA is not serious about transformation particularly itself, it is and remains a party obsessed to protect the white interest and cannot exist outside that fundamental axis. The DA is the sum total of the majority of white voters. It is the natural home of the majority of white voters not because it is the better option for the country but really since whites feel at home and continue to vote for this party because it is a party that represents them as group and race’s interest.

Maimane knows that he personally no different to De Lille is very discardable for those of white privilege. He knows today that he is not indispensable and even those within the party that may support him will not save him since those who do not approve of his white privilege statements are the very ones whom it is claimed he alienates always decide leadership.

The DA, in all honesty, cannot trust any black leader because ultimately any thinking black leader will find it difficult to defend white privilege. In electing Maimane the DA felt comfortable that he was not going to ever challenge the essence of its existence. Maimane ultimately knows much more about his DA and he knows blacks will never be the traditional base of this party. As the days unfold, they will find him corrupt too and nail him like they have always nailed all other blacks who dared to challenge them on their protection of white interest at any and every cost.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
Political Commentator & Writer Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation
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DA’s capture theme mushrooms into a useful tool for a claim to messiahship

‘State Capture’ often talked about in a claim of textbook precision if not emotion by those who have found it a means to keep South Africa occupied, increasingly appears seldom supported by evidence that will stand legal muster come the hour. For some of us, it remains a hokum argument rooted in a political campaign originally crafted by the opposition and successfully carried in the court of public opinion, with an innate lucrative personal benefit for those in power.

Let us not forget that on March 10, the Free State High Court on the Estina Dairy Farm inquest, ruled that the R10milion in Atul Gupta’s bank account be unfrozen. This past week Judge Loubser of the Free State High Court ordered the unfreezing of R250 million worth of the family’s assets. We also heard from the Pretoria Court where the NPA withdrew its bid to freeze the family’s Optimum and Doornfontein mine rehabilitation trusts.

With the NPA now having lost three rounds in an attempt of seizing the assets as proceeds of a crime to prove state capture as is claimed, it becomes increasingly difficult to see the NPA succeed to bring a case that will stand legal muster come August 2018 when it will make its case. There are those who argue the NPA is in the attempt of creating crime scenes and is failing to prove the much publicised and easily claimed state capture in evidence,

President Ramaphosa on May 24th hosted a meeting with editors of mainstream media, in such he expressed his sincere gratitude towards the media for its role in a democratic society. Ramaphosa also took the opportunity to confess that he as president and former president did not know the extent of state capture until the media revealed such. With this confession, Ramaphosa sought to give the media credit for having given us state capture as prevalent. Perhaps the president with his confession in a two-fold sense shared a less convenient truth though inadvertently when he credits the media for having unveiled state capture. It becomes natural to ask is it possible that state capture was created by the media?

South Africa is a constitutional democracy with three independent arms defining the State, these respectively are the legislative, the judiciary and the executive. To, therefore, claim state capture an undeniable reality it should be that evidence exists that at least two of the arms of the state are captured. Hitherto no evidence exists that either the judiciary or the legislative arms are captured leaving only the executive.  We know efforts are afoot to prove its existence in the executive. Yet, at the same time, only some departments and ministries within the executive are tainted with this claim of state capture.

It may be important to jog our collective memory on the SA use of capture which became state capture as drummed into our national conscience, we warrant asking how and from where this construct made its presence known.

The making of a narrative of capture:  

While President Ramaphosa, generously accredits the media for uncovering the extent of capture.  The truth is if Ramaphosa wants to extend credit to anyone for the presence of a theme of capture as we are fed immanent in state capture, he will need to give the official opposition credit for the construct. The construct of capture was introduced to us by the Democratic Alliance when its strategists developed a campaign for its 2009 elections. The campaign would be centred on the famous three C’s namely cadre deployment, corruption and capture. While the DA itself is very active in cadre deployment it vociferously went after the ANC and sought to discredit it in every sphere on this score.

We will recall that the DA solicited a parliamentary investigation against the ANC led Eastern Cape Government in 2011 on the Siphiwo Sohena appointment. We also recall how by May 2013 it accused the ANC that its cadre deployment policy and practice contradicts the National Development Plan. It was only by December 2014 that the ANC in counter-accusation attacked the DA for its own cadre deployment practice. The DA did not back off but continued attacking the ANC’s cadre deployment, until the ANC began to re-echo the sentiments of a problematic in its own cadre deployment as an internecine challenge. Clearly, the DA won this round because the ANC was now doubting and critiquing its own cadre deployment when nothing was done about the DA’s own cadre deployment practice.

It was time for the DA to move to the second C (corruption) of its campaign, around 2014. The DA’s strategy was now framed around proving the ANC led administration as corrupt in its totality. The means to prove this would be to create a focal point, and that became the ANC and SA president, while it included premiers, mayors and all those in senior positions. Notwithstanding the fact that corruption is a reality from the time of Mandela to varying degrees, we now were led to believe corruption was anchored in the office of the 3rd Elected SA president Jacob Zuma. Fast track to 2016, the subject of a corrupt ANC was now entrenched in our discourse and the credibility of the ANC irrevocably damaged hardly because corruption was a lie neither because it was in the greater degree of prevalence, but for the fact that the DA in dictating the national narrative succeeded. As in the case of cadre deployment, the ANC eventually caught up and began to talk about corruption. Naturally, corruption must at all times be condemned, and there should never be a justification for corruption anywhere

The former public protector’s Secure and Comfort Report, which ultimately ended in the constitutional court, was the death knell in confirming the claim of rampant corruption with its fulcrum, the head of the ANC led government’s Nkandla property. The DA could now claim that it has proven the ANC as corrupt, not to be trusted to lead. By October 2016, with the Constitutional Court ruling public, corruption as a leading theme appeared to have run its course, since no corruption on the part of the president and his family was found in either the report or the subsequent Concourt rulings.

It was now time if not opportune to introduce SA to the last C in the DA trilogy, namely capture. State capture forcefully introduced to our conscience soon took over our national conversation. Its target as always for the DA was the head of ANC and SA, president Zuma.  The means will be his publicly admitted relationship with a naturalised Gupta Family originally from India.

By June 2016, the Secretary-General of the ANC Gwede Mantashe informed the public that out of eight people confirmed to have evidence of state capture, only one was willing to make a written submission. State capture, with this statement, was thus nowhere near any real matter for engaging in ANC circles. Capture would be the most lethal of the DA’s campaign arsenal, for it sought to capitalise on the factionalised self-interest of leaders in an ANC that is known for its conflicting presence of capital, however, defined.

The problematic and political value of proving the Guptas as the state capturers

Despite the fact that there are those who argue that the nature of all capitalist states lends itself to capture, the SA narrative in this season attests a peculiarity in its practical and experiential claim for its prevalence.  Please do not mistake my opinion as defence of the Guptas, I am on record for having said whatever this family and its companies have done wrong, they must like all others face the full might of law. My challenge is the SA prism of state capture immanent in this family in an exclusive sense. The crafted and uncritical appropriated narrative on state capture is necessarily only understood in centre and circumference as limited to the Gupta Family. Perhaps herein lies the questionability and uniqueness of the South African version of state capture’s conundrum. We may argue as to how sincere South Africa is to investigate the prevalence of state capture since it already pre-determined to find it within prescribed limitations to a family name to the conscious exclusion of all others.

Thus, the origin and current problematic with a claim of capture directly borrowed from the DA trilogy (cadre deployment, corruption and capture) for its elections campaign strategy against the ANC, combined with its choice definition in singular association with a particular family namely the Guptas raise questions. If state capture was to be proven it will need to be proven with the Guptas as its central and only focus. Herein lies perhaps the power of the campaign versus the sincerity to deal with a plausible captured state. It is logical to make a case for proving of state capture in the frame of Gupta claims because the narrative has succeeded and it appears all that is needed now is to prove this since the evidence as is claimed is a matter of public knowledge for all to see.

It appears the logic leads to proving the Guptas guilty of state capture and by extension dealing with the latter in a court reality of a successful verdict, would effectively arrest state capture. Not only will it ‘arrest’ state capture and declaring it finally a thing of the past, but it also produces natural heroes and messiahs. Do not underestimate the importance of the latter, we are in an undeniable public relations season it may just be the real reason why such emphasis and space are accorded to let state capture live when it really is corruption that must be dealt with. Framing corruption in claims of state capture a conviction against the already guilty Gupta family, therefore holds much more than political mileage and relevance for some among the political elite.

Who then stands to benefit from keeping us occupied with this crafted narrative of state capture? Who are the to be crowned Messiahs when this type of ‘state capture’ is proven? Can the case be made that undue pressure is exerted on the NPA to prosecute? Let us not forget that those who advance the narrative of state capture are increasingly becoming impatient with the NPA for proving too slow to act in nailing those whom they already had found guilty in the court of public opinion. We have heard Trevor Manuel echoing these sentiments.  We have heard a call to action on the part of the president while in campaign mode. Back then-presidential candidate Ramaphosa in addressing a COSATU rally said the following: “The Hawks and NPA mustn’t sit on their laurels, they must do their work and investigate so those involved can be dealt with… there is no reason for the Hawks and NPA to wait for a commission of inquiry. Something about state capture should be done immediately.”

We cannot rush to conclude the president is now exerting undue political pressure on the NPA, yet we must ask why is the NPA ‘stretched, overwhelmed and under pressure’ as Abram Mashego in his City Press article categorically asserts for the overarching reasons why the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit’s (SCCU) which is directing the criminal investigation into state capture acted in a haphazard fashion? What happens if the case of state capture cannot be made? Will we accept it was always a political campaign?

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

 

 

Beyond, the chaos of political names for Cape Town International airport lays the battle for identity!

Marinos the philosopher introduced us to the adage, “True learning flourishes in chaos”. What happened at the Cape Town Intl. Airport, where a public meeting intended to engage the renaming of the airport abruptly ended in chaos. Chaos where emotions flared, easily interpreted as uncouth behaviour, untenable intolerance, the ever-pervasive and simmering issue of race or it may just present a moment of learning on the subject matter of identity. The quest for identity involuntarily thrusts itself upon our collective conscience in a post-democratic dispensation. Beyond names bandied around, we are compelled to listen deeper and ask what are we hearing or not hearing from this gathering – I think we are hearing the quest for identity pronouncing itself?

We are told that the names in contention include Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, Sarah Baartman and Krotoa of the Goringhaicona.  The one good thing about the names thrown around is for the first time there are more women in this usually male-dominated obsession of names for public places.

South Africa is a nation obsessed with naming public spaces after political personalities. It is not a phenomenon that stems from 1994, but deeply ingrained in the notion of a Republic of SA. It is a direct continuation of an apartheid-era practice of honouring of politicians and leaders as means to flex political muscle. Let us not forget Cape Town International’s last name was DF Malan Airport. In case you forgot, OR Tambo International, was previously known as Jan Smuts Airport, the Bloemfontein Airport was named after JB Hertzog. Hence apartheid beneficiaries can hardly pretend this practice immanent in an obsession of names for public spaces as singularly a democratic era thing.  If the new democratic dispensation learned anything from the heretic systems of colonialism and apartheid it was to inculcate in idol worship their political heroes affording them unique identities eternalised in public spaces. Just as it uncritically appropriated racial classification for means to define a common humanity in questionable frames of black, coloured, white and Indian, whatever these may mean.

However, beyond the irrefutable practice as found from apartheid days lays buried perhaps the golden thread of identity. We may accept that the naming of airports like JB Hertzog, Jan Smuts and DF Malan expressed a sense of political power on one level but it may also at a fundamental level unequivocally articulate a group identity on another level.

In the year that Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu would have turned 100 years these two ANC luminaries are celebrated in a national campaign and series of events, hence some almost naturally assume it normal to bestow the honour of renaming the airport with one of the two. Naming a Nelson Mandela or Albertina Sisulu for the airport would be also neutral since both these figures are celebrated in near sense of deity. Renaming it after any of these two would be considered good public relations exercise in a season when the media claims a resurgence of Mandela-like euphoria.  We may, therefore, deduce going for either a Mandela or Sisulu name is at the core probably an ANC leadership motivated idea. We may conclude it’s the ANC party identity that seeks to exert itself in this regard, particularly in a geographical space where the ANC continues to battle to regain political control.

In the year of her death, the name of Winnie Madikizela- Mandela, for most affectionately known as ‘Mother of the Nation’, is for some the only name for consideration as a means to fix and honour her legacy since the ANC according to some failed to honour this stalwart. Winnie Madikizela- Mandela in her own right divides the ANC as her death showed. The aftermath of her death threatened to unleash a further divide in a very fractious ANC, since information shared laid bare how some key leaders in her party aided the untested claim of her involvement in the death of Stompie Sepei, either by their silence not dispelling that narrative or their compliance to nail her for their own reasons.

While the ANC was dealing with the embarrassment of these revelations and as always absent to engage the public discourse on the subject the EFF seized the moment to gather in the significant spot of Brandfort, the place to which Winnie Mandela was banished under house arrest for nine years. Julius Malema the EFF leader who has an inside track on ANC information often embarrasses the ANC leadership when he blurts information not always meant for public consumption. Malema became the first politician to publicly call for the name of Winnie Mandela as replacement of Cape Town International. With this Malema exerted his personal political identity and that of the EFF as a party that leads. Let us not forget Malema is on record to claim the EFF is directing political theory and the political landscape of SA in this epoch.  A choice for Winnie Mandela while marking her legacy in fixing, really carries the flexing of the identity of the EFF leader and its party. There may also be a radical component of the ANC who is more likely to agree with the EFF because they identify with Madikizela- Mandela and less with Nelson Mandela or Albertina Sisulu.

Robert Smangaliso Sobukwe the Pan African Congress president and Leader and icon, kept in solitary confinement on Robben Island, of whom apartheid’s John Vorster once remarked with the following words: “Compared to [Albert] Luthuli, Sobukwe was a heavyweight, (is also mentioned). Sobukwe due for release on May 3, 1963, was instead eternalised with a special law, called the “Sobukwe Clause”, in the General Laws Amendment Act passed to enable the apartheid government to detain him indefinitely.  The PAC often accuses the ANC of flagrantly usurping the role of the liberation struggle in history in the totality of presence and thus, airbrushing the role Robert Sobukwe and others. Those who call for a Robert Sobukwe renaming of the Cape Town international airport do so in an attempt of exerting the Pan African Congress liberation struggle identity, a claim justified in due recognition. It is an attempt to challenge the ANC in its management of history.

Equally, so others call for the name of Sarah Baartman the Khoi-Khoi woman who was brutally violated and shipped out of the land of her birth forced to perform against her will by Caesars and Dunlop, she was later sold to an animal trainer S. Reaux. Baartman’s physique became the obsession of the French scholar Georges Cuvier who clearly could not see a human but became entrapped seeking to draw a link between and animals in this Khoi-Khoi woman.  Baartman’s body was exploited for scientific racism. Cuvier dissected her body and displayed her remains. She finally returned home as repatriated to rest from where she was violently and inhumanely taken.

On the other hand, some called for the name of Krotoa of the Goringhaicona. Krotoa (known as Eva to the Dutch and English settlers) was the niece of Autshumao, a Khoi leader and interpreter to the Dutch (he was known as Harry/Herry first by the English and then by the Dutch). A young Krotoa, of about 10 or 11 years old, it is claimed was taken in by Jan van Riebeeck during the first few days of Dutch settlement in the Cape. Recent reflections reveal attempts to present her from the other side of her history and more and more defines her a linguist, an intellectual, leader and some of the earliest women leaders in a recorded Khoisan history.

Those who demand the renaming of the Cape Town International airport with names of either Krotoa of the Goringhaicona or Sarah Baartman share a common struggle and that struggle is one for a recognition of identity. For in a free and democratic South Africa, the Khoisan identity is still fighting to be recognised as 21stCentury identity.

Unlike all other identities earlier mentioned, this one remains elusive, reduced to poetry that declared it obsolete. This when many of us long in self-identification claimed our Khoisan identity and have asked the state to stop misidentifying us in trojan horse Coloured identity. When they call for either Krotoa and Baartman it is a call for the Mother of the Cape. It is also intrinsically coupled in manifestation with the thorny subject of land redress. It is for this group natural to call for the honouring of these two brave Khoisan women and their connectedness to what is known as the Cape. Yet it is on a larger scale really group identity trying to be heard. Maya Angelou told us ‘there is no story like a story trying to be told’.

In the end, we run the risk of getting hoodwinked in defending names against other names. Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Robert Sobukwe Sarah Baartman or Krotoa of the Goringhaicona are not just mere names that people lost their tempers for during this heated public engagement that ended in chaos.  They all represent identities.

Perhaps these names represent identities contesting a space in their own way really to unseat DF Malan that continues to hide in garments of a claimed neutral Cape Town International airport.  It can also be argued these identities share a common space of powerlessness, hence they are prepared to contest in outshouting one another even teetering on physical fights. While some of these identities claim a political power they all, in the final analysis, remain victims of powerlessness to varying degrees.

Are we learning anything from this chaos? Shall we hear the quest for identity recognition be it political or in self -definition or will we get lost assuming the names are hated by others who call for their preferred identity? Will those who lead SA ever stop playing mute, we need a Commission on Identity that affords people the inalienable right to self-identify less in apartheid configuration of constricted racist labels.

 

Clyde Ramalaine

June, 5, 2018

Willemse in naked sense reminds SA of its ‘black quota player’ notion advanced by apartheid-era players labels?

– South Africa is a society replete with ‘quota players’, just check your industry and you will hear apartheid benefactors talking about you as a ‘quota player’ –

Rosa Parks the black American civil rights leader who became famous for refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated Montgomery, Alabama bus, which spurred on the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott that helped launch nationwide efforts to end segregation of public facilities, responded to this demand with the words “… my feets [sic] are tired…”

In the aftermath of Ashwin Willemse, former SA player and now Supersport rugby analyst sharing his views before he left the studio in full view and with the explicit intent of showing his disgust, as always South Africa is a flood with views and the social media runs wild articulating the binaries of black and white commentary. In a sense, Willemse emulated what American Rosa Parks stood for. We not sure if his revolt against a system of white rugby dictate will ever birth a true boycott that may realize true transformation.

I am not sure why we are all attempting to take refuge in a claimed Supersport investigation which apparently would give us all the facts which we are told will explain what happened on Saturday. As in the case of Parks, all we have are the words of Ashwin Willemse on the night in question.

Perhaps we should look at this and attempt to hear him. Willemse’s two statements cut through the reality of our endemic SA problem, a problem understood and stubbornly anchored in the demon of race. If we know of Parks today it’s for the massive bus revolt birthed and less for her grammatical error of the word feet. I wish to postulate we may just remember Willemse less for the brilliant and deserving wing he was, nor for his analysis often in broken English equal to his colleague Naas Botha, neither for the fact that he has made the Dean’s list to be a Masters student. A mean feat for someone from the backstreets of a Caledon apartheid Coloured Township that duped him into gangsterism. Willemse’s biggest contribution to rugby may just have been what he said on Saturday night.

Let us then hear Willemse in his own words: “I’ve played this game for a long time, like all of us here, you know. And as a player I was labeled a quota player for a long time … and I’ve worked hard to earn my own respect in this game.”

Willemse dovetailed this with: ‘I’m not going to be patronized by two individuals that have played in apartheid, segregated era and come and want to undermine’.

These two statements summarise the entire heart of the current public discourse in the divide. Depending on how apartheid race labels for an identity defines one, one is likely to either embrace, identify, concur or reject one of the two.

The ‘quota system’ phenomenon in rugby is often the manifestation of forced transformation in a space where transformation is not welcomed. Spaces that claim those who earn their places in either club or national colors do so purely by merit. In an ideal world, the assumption can be made that merit informs the choice of players in a squad representing a club or country. However South Africa is not a normal society, we had a saying years ago in SACOS, ‘no normal sport in an abnormal society’. The abnormality of society evidences a truculence to engage the apartheid bastions of race that have hitherto proven stubborn to let go.

Willemse’s emphatic claim that he has worked hard to earn his respect in the game of rugby is not a solitary one or exclusive to rugby, He made it clear his earning of that status is no different to his colleagues though in different epochs. He, therefore, wants to free not just himself but every black player that is necklaced with this label of being ‘quota player’ an identity that again is exacted by those who have always deemed it their right to decide and determine for those they have denied a common equal humanity. Thus, Willemse’s statement is, therefore, a cry for rightful recognition and a legacy devoid of the frame of being a quota player. It cannot be seen as a solitary moment but stands within a larger canvas of observations, personal experiences, and his personal journey.

He is supported by among others Thando Manana who in a radio interview shared similar sentiments being part of SA rugby, who argues it is time for a change. One may easily deduct that the experience is the same for an aggregate group of players of black designation, from the days of Errol Tobias, that over time joined the ranks of SA Rugby and more so in draping a Springbok emblem.

Yet, being cited as a ‘quota player’ is not exclusively limited to rugby, the South African corporate sector is replete with quota, senior executives and business players. The SA media world has its fair share of quota editors and journalists, the apartheid designed academic world that still holds sway of the essence of what makes for curriculum, study material and a professorship in democracy has its own share of quota player academics. The judiciary of SA has its own quota player portion and so we can go on. The reality is apartheid had at its core the flawed belief in a superior race of white identity not exclusively limited to the sport but permeating everything that defines societal life spaces where ordinary people attempts a meaningful life.

Willemse’s revolt is really a cry I to be unshackled from the burden of being tagged a quota player, he in proverbial sense of the Mary-Mary song with a controlled demeanor said, “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance”. He told South Africa and the rugby world, I am no quota player if you who deem me one finds it repulsive for yourself. This is a cry to claim his rightful legacy no different to his fellow analysts in the studio, an equal humanity. This is a common burden of many who in transformation were extended opportunity to participate, learn, grow and ultimately show their mettle. This is not new since we who have always followed rugby and love the sport from childhood days from the seventies know the apartheid rugby teams were empowered players in every facet of the word, hardly an all star-studded player group as if told in a sanitised sense of the history of a definition of SA Springbok rugby teams. Truth be told they were the first to be empowered and had no problem with that empowerment because it was ringfenced and only served the interest of that apartheid advantaged informed by skin color and pigmentation. They were firstly privileged, extended opportunity and often from a space of mediocrity but with a guaranteed space continued to improve in an understanding of the game the same everyone if afforded should show after a while.

Willemse helps us to appreciate problematic and I conviction that informs white thinking on transformation. Transformation is never a welcomed reality, change is always demanded and it is considered discomforting for those who have always benefitted from the status quo. There are those who call for merits as if all players whoever made it into the SA Rugby Teams in what is called “Springboks” did so on pure merit. This is wishful thinking and a blatant lie. They therefore with the advent of a changed political dispensation that necessitated a new society and demanded transformation labeled every black player that made the cut a ‘quota player’. Transformation the necessary instrument and true means for equality are distorted and conveniently understood in the denigrated botched identity of a final product known as ‘quota player’, what an indictment.

Those who are at pains to accord others the designation of quota players often draws a direct correlation between the performance of the team and the presence of those they believe are not elected on merit but informed by the demands of quota systems. They do so without even realizing what they say, Botha about three years ago was talking about the golden era of rugby which refers to a pre-1994 epoch. It is clear there not many in the white world of SA rugby thinking that have regard for the post-1994 era because it remains the team that saw quota players.

When Willemse says he has worked hard to earn his place in this game, he does so because he knows the epithet of a ‘quota player’ came to define the black player in the National Rugby team. The problem with this deduction of what makes for quota player is the again the aspect of race. Willemse’s cry is not a solitary one, but one that many shares.

Unfortunately, rugby seeks to remain white for the wrong reasons, rugby resists all and any means for it wants to continue purporting the enclave of white thinking. Rugby though for public relations stints considered a South African society sport, has exclusively remained the control of a white identity that same identity that predetermined itself as merit players and those who came by way of democratic South Africa as mere quota players. Being a quota player therefore is and remains an albatross and insult if seen through the lens of those who control rugby, the merit claim and afford themselves the inalienable right to know rugby.

South African rugby then attests a microcosm and true reflection of the democratic society, it is as if rugby was discussed at CODESA and apartheid’s beneficiaries negotiated its right to remain the self-appointed custodians of a sport many of us from the Cape have played.

Willemse’s second statement irked the daylights of many apartheid beneficiaries who self-identify in white as the reference to two rugby players that played in the apartheid era. The aggregate comments from whites on this statement depicts a race informed group angered to always be reminded of apartheid. Particularly in a season when Afri-Forum’s Kallie Kriel is in business sanitizing our collective experience of apartheid. When Willemse, therefore, tags Mallet and Botha as apartheid rugby era players, he is not deceptive, they are from that era, it is a fact. They are from a time when South African rugby for the better part was entertaining rebel-teams, begging the world to come and play against it and was considered a pariah state.

Willemse then out of that claim of equal rights space in retributive sense response to those who label others quota players f, those who bask in the sunshine of knowing rugby in superiority. He reminds them you are from the apartheid era. He, therefore, spits on what they consider the holy grail since he says the opposite of what they have come to believe that era stood for. When they look at the pre- 1994 era they see the glory days of Springbok rugby, how dare Willemse, therefore, have the audacity to tell them they were not the best, when that era was in their minds remains the best of all? This response earned him the ire of the white rugby supporters and he is castigated in many ways for being defiant, arrogant and therefore they will now remind him of his gangster past, his challenging life he was raised in Caledon and his challenge with English in a public space context. They will drag him to the altar of ultimate sacrifice and say he is incompetent slothful and corrupt, for when white thinking wants to tell you what they really think of a’ quota player’ be it in rugby, academics, politics, business corporates executive society or anywhere, they eventually will tell you incompetent and corrupt.

In the end, Willemse forces us to engage the label quota player, if you opined because you thought what happened on Saturday night was about rugby exclusively, you have failed to the draw links, because if you look closer you will see your work, business, academic, media, executive space, that had branded you a quota player. For as long as you silent when they make the jokes, for as long as you feel special in white thinking’s company you must stay that – God forbid the day you say like Parks and Willemse … my feets [sic] are tired. That is the day they will come for you and obliterate you. For as long as you remain a quota player and don’t revolt you will accuse Willemse of indolence and attention seeking what till you really get tired and we may have to write about you.

 

Clyde N.S Ramalaine

Can South Africa have an honest debate on the claims of state capture?

– ‘Just to be clear, there is no such thing as a state capture criminal offence. That offence is a media invention’. Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana –

 

The South African discourse on state capture real or imagined as directed by the media lends itself to a herd-mentality of a confirmed prevalence of state capture supported by a claim of irrefutable evidence.   This also lends itself to a high level of intolerance to alternate views.  Those of us who question the usage of the construct are naturally considered dissidents, defending wrong, and therefore labelled in all likelihood as part of the act of state capture.   We therefore seldom engage as equals in this debate.

While some speak of state capture with a claim of scientific conviction, the hardcore legal evidence remains sketchy. Some of us continue to remind South Africa as to the history of the construct in the SA context as a sophisticated political theme directly appropriated from an original Democratic Alliance elections 2009 strategy. A strategy that evolved in public discourse to ultimately find credence as defining the former public protector’s report entitled ‘The State of Capture’. State Capture was now given an irrevocable truth status at the hand of this important Chapter 9 Institution and lives in own its presence in our daily sojourn.   We must ask who helped to create the ‘state capture narrative of a crime’ that we today have in claims scientific evidence?

If we, therefore, have state capture as a part of our lexicon be it in the daily claim by a group of politicians who were a part of the administration they accuse of we must remain conscious of the role the media played in the scripting of the minds construct in the national conscience. The subject of state capture solicits more voices who venture to probe the construct and its interesting narrow definition in the SA discourse.

Among those who have publicly shared their views are ANC politicians such as former finance minister now Rothschild’s director, Trevor Manuel who among others have also served the administration they accuse of state capture. He laments the reluctance of the investigating and prosecuting authorities to act against the ones Manuel have already found guilty. Manuel is not alone, in this demand for action on those they already found guilty.

ANC Presidential Candidate Ramaphosa, in July 2017 while on the campaign trail is quoted in the following words “We now know, without any shred of uncertainty, that billions of rands of public resources have been diverted into the pockets of a few,” Ramaphosa goes further, “There is not a day that passes that we do not gain greater insight into a network of illicit relationships, contracts, deals and appointments designed to benefit just one family and their associates,”

Candidate Ramaphosa at a COSATU Rally in that same season in August 2017, said the following: “The Hawks and NPA mustn’t sit on their laurels, they must do their work and investigate so those involved can be dealt with… there is no reason for the Hawks and NPA to wait for a commission of inquiry. Something about state capture should be done immediately.”

President Ramaphosa as the first citizen of SA in this season continues this narrative with a sense of absolute certainty on the presence of a crime defined as state capture. Since the President is an attorney by profession, it is difficult to distinguish between the jurist and the politician when it comes to the claims of state capture.

A few weeks ago, Howard University Professor Ziyad Motala in the Sunday Times, advanced the view that the net be cast wider than the current media dictated narrative. His idea of looking at state capture for a claim of existence warrants a scrutiny that resists the temptation of regarding the period immediately after 1994 as a time of innocence.  Motala brings the accusers into the accusation box when he asserts, ‘The relentless push to embrace free trade, sweetheart deals that allowed favoured companies to move their assets abroad, and the bilateral investment treaties were profoundly detrimental to the economy and the country’s ability to deal with the legacies of apartheid.”

On the subject of consequences, he concludes, “in terms of consequences, the economic, monetary, and trade choices immediately after 1994 that were indulgent to big business rank among the biggest rip off in the South Africa economy. If we to reckon with state capture, we must understand that its history is rooted in policy choices made during this country’s infancy.”  

For Motala, any attempt at understanding or appreciating the subject matter of state capture in 2018 as claimed in absence of a full recognition of the past policy choices made since 1994 is a dishonest exercise. Motala does not exonerate Trevor Manuel, whom he calls the darling of the liberal media while Manuel demands the prosecuting of those tried by the rule of the media in Gupta frame of state capture. Manuel and the administrations that made these policy choices owe South Africa explanations for their choices and thus in their own way may stand accused of state capture when they adopted the free trade agreements or as he calls sweetheart deals that favoured companies to move their assets abroad at the expense of the economy. The rationale for these policy choices is still to be explained.

By the same token there are those who ask why South Africa’s discourse unnaturally excludes President Ramaphosa for his role since as the second in charge of the same executive against whom there is overwhelming evidence of the offense of state capture accused of state capture They ask if he can be absolved for claiming he did not know.

The Star of June 6, carried an op-ed entitled.  “The Danger of the Rule of the Media” penned by Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana, Senior Counsel and Chairperson of the General Council of Bars. Ngalwana, cannot hide his frustration with the herd-mentality behaviour of a litany of opinion makers who ventures legal opinions devoid of any respect for how the rule of law functions. He, observes, “in an environment where uninformed legal commentary monopolises the public space. The rule of media supplants the rule of law”.  Ngalwana cautions South Africa as to where it finds itself on the role of the law of the media versus the rule of law. He shows this out on the hot topic of state capture and its presence in our discourse.

To support his concern for  a society that increasingly evidences the practice and ethic of a rule of law as supplanted by the rule of the media, he cites the following examples with these words, “We have seen examples of this in, among others, the persecution of former president Jacob Zuma in the media on a charge of which he had been acquitted by a court of law; the praising of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan for “winning” a case he had in fact lost as it was struck off the roll; and the excoriation of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for dissenting and characterizing the majority’s judgment as judicial overreach in a case in which the media seemed intent on the opposite outcome.

Ngalwana reminds us: “The latest example of this phenomenon came with last week Monday’s High Court order that the assets of the Gupta family be released from state capture- pun intended – because, said the court, there is no reasonable possibility that a confiscation order may be made. Opinion makers went ballistic. They blamed everything from the incompetence of the prosecuting authority to the incompetence of the judge.” Rightfully Ngalwana argues, ‘It never occurred to any of them that perhaps the judge may have been right in his assessment of the evidence before him, and so came to the only conclusion on that evidence.”

Ngalwana, goes to the heart of the matter when he categorically states, “To them that would not because the script had long been written (by them) that the Guptas were guilty of state capture – a ” criminal offence ” of media invention from the public protector’s report titled the State of Capture, and so everything they own is ” proceeds of crime”. So, when the judge deviated from that script, either he or the prosecuting team was incompetent. This dangerous phenomenon poses a serious threat to the rule of law.”   Ngalwana is emphatic when he asserts, ‘just to be clear, there is no such thing as a state capture criminal offence. That offence is a media invention.”

According to Abram Mashego’s headline story of the City Press of Sunday June 3, “Insiders at the National Prosecuting Authority(NPA) close to the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU) which is directing the criminal investigation into state capture, says that so far, they have ‘absolutely nothing’ against the Gupta business partner and former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane.”

For both Manuel and Ramaphosa state capture, the crime was long proven, hence they both bemoan why it is taking so long to prosecute those involved in state capture.  For Manuel, the evidence was proven by the media. They thus share an annoyance that the investigative and prosecutorial aspects are so tardy.   Is it possible that when Manuel and Ramaphosa express their dissatisfaction with the time it takes to bring those to a court, it may be because the script on state capture has already been written with Guptas as the epicentre? The frustration may, therefore, be the fact that the legal evidence proves sketchy. If there is such overwhelming evidence, why is the evidence not made to stand by itself?

We thus can conclude, the media invented script of state capture a ‘criminal offence’, that has long found former President Jacob Zuma, Secretary General Ace Magashule, Supra Mahumapelo and many others along with the Guptas guilty, is very intolerant to afford the rule of law to stand as the final arbiter for its claims. If and until the courts are afforded to entertain evidence for corruption, the media-led campaign that has concluded on state capture as a claim, state capture the crime and those accused in public sentiment which may work well since it always was a campaign. Is it possible that SA is busy trying to prove the media invented ‘state capture criminal offence’, which may not be borne out by the rule of law as Ngalwana cautions us?

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

Political Commentator & Writer

9/6/2018

Traditional America and the world may be wrong to continue to expect a different Trump?

The 45th President of the USA Donald J Trump is in office for more than 500 days of a four-year term, and still many in and outside the USA remain upstaged, angered and literally shaken by him. Not a week has gone by without him being in the news for some act and form of controversy, unorthodoxy, unilateral defiance and breaking with all conventions that define politics as a trade. That understanding of politics as a trade of win-win is not just limited to the internal USA community but from the start included the globe. Trump gave us what we came to accept as twitter- diplomacy where he prefers this medium as the appropriate and official means to share USA policy in day to day running commentary on a variety of topics. Trump’s nationalistic politics and praxis from the start ventured where his predecessors feared to tread, For Donald Trump its always about the grandiose.

USA President Trump has arrived in Singapore and will in a few hours shake hands and sit down with Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, in what remains a historic moment. While the meeting at a fundamental level remains very personal for both Trump and Jong-un, it is clear the latter has the better control hours before the event. We have all opined as to how Trump is really trumped by the manoeuvring of a Jong-un who clearly has thus far gained much more at personal, regional and global levels.

There is a further consensus that both Jong-un and Trump’s appreciation for what denuclearization means remains miles apart and in the final analysis that’s what will matter if the meeting will continue or see Trump get up and walk away as he so often has warned. We can only guess how this proverbial cookie may finally crumble, and we certainly have ample time to engage that in the aftermath. We learned that Trump’s hard-line position with the G7 is also a means to show he is not weak as he gets to sit down with Jong-un.

Beyond the theatrics and ego-tripping of both Trump and Jong-un, a more pertinent question remains, is the problem with Trump or with those who only know a traditional setting of world politics understood in what is termed conventions? By the same token will the USA and the globe ever get used to the politics, diplomacy and the communication style of Trump? Why do the rest of the world continue to hold the hope that the known conventions they have hitherto upheld will somehow become respected by Trump? There is the general consensus that Trump in every sense of the word is the antithesis of what diplomacy in the last 70 years have come to mean.

At national USA level, Trump has succeeded to blur if not obliterate decades of red and blue politics. Politics understood in frames of liberal and conservative. This, decades-long distinction real or imagined is now bull-dozed in more than blurred lines with Trump’s graphic signature all over it. He has thus cast a new frame of what politics may look like in the future? Trump the Republican President’s behaviour left the decorated Senator McCain so disturbed that he retaliated in his own tweet with the words: “Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.” One is not sure when before a senator had to reassure the USA allies that America supports them, despite its president.

Not only did Trump manage to blur red and blue internal politics, but he also has left long-standing allies befuddled and visibly annoyed with his redrawing of global politics and economics often in knee-jerk practice of politics and diplomacy. After withdrawing the USA from the long-crafted Iran deal, with threats to the very allies should they continue to support the Iran deal, he threw the world into turmoil and caused much anxiety as he singularly attempted to recast the Middle East politics when he pushed ahead to move the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump’s recent attending of the G7 meeting in Canada remains his latest upstaging of these long-standing allies. Not only did he arrived late and left earlier, but he is now in open hostile war of words with the USA’s closest trade partner immanent in the Canadian Prime Minister. The background for this, Trump before leaving the G7 Gathering, endorsed the joint statement of the G7, then in a fit of rage over the presser of Prime Minister Tredaux went on his usual tirade and reneged on what he committed to and instructed his officials not to endorse the joint statement.

Trump dropped two bombshells one en-route to the G7 summit, and one at the summit. Firstly, he openly called for the reinstating of Russia as a member of what was the G8. When Trump did this he again defied the standard practice of this body which upholds a code of private lobbying before public statements are issued. Trump had shown little respect for this subculture and practice. Secondly, Trump, threw down the gauntlet when he proposed a free trade with no tariffs, no barriers and no subsidies. Those who know say this is too simplistic and devoid of the hidden details of practicality. In Trump’s prism, if a trade is not reciprocal it can only mean “fool trade”. Clearly, the G7 is not ready for this and do not know what it means in a space where all these members in their own way seek to score from tariffs barriers and subsidies.

Day after day Trump continues to send tremors of shock that reverberates on both national and global scales. Yet, the expectation for Trump to be un-Trump equally remains. It is perhaps time to ask why is Trump continuing to shock the world? Is it the reluctance on the part of the world to accept that the world has changed by this one man? Could it be that the world has come to accept its practice of global politics as the accepted standard and is not ready to move on to embrace a new dispensation? Is it possible that the world still holds the hope that the 45th USA president will come around and adjust into their frame of world engagement, politics and diplomacy? If so why does the world continue to believe this about Trump?

Trump, after all, is consistent for having acted in this unpredictable and unorthodox fashion. He forewarned us that he was not going to be what was so far seen in USA presidencies. The USA voters knew exactly who they voted into power to occupy the White House and lead them. Trump has consistently focussed on his constituency at a local level, in his prism and reality, these ultimately constitute those he remains answerable to since they voted him into power. Expecting Trump to be a USA president is perhaps an erroneous expectation, he simply will not cross the proverbial railway line to become a USA president and fit the mould. He is and remains a president of those who voted him into power and his unpredictability remains his functional currency and relevance.

Is it perhaps here that the world continues to miss it because when it continues to be disappointed by Trump it is because it somehow has the hope that Trump can live up to the expectation of being other than the existential Trump.

Has Trump in his own way, therefore, shifted to a paradigm that the world is not ready to accept? Is he redefining what we came to know as the USA and global politics? Do we continue to blame Trump, or are we not responsible for our own disappointment, since we continue to hope Trump will wake up one morning and act in line with what we have come to define as matured, moderate, sensible politics informed by a frame of diplomacy we had until now come to share as the standard?

The Singapore summit between Trump and Jong-un will come and go, and nothing significant as it relates to denuclearization may be attained, yet the expectation to have a Trump fit into the conventional paradigms of global politics, diplomacy and ally-thinking will continue to occupy our global conscience for much longer so it appears.

 

Clyde Ramalaine

Political Commentator and Writer

 

 

Shivambu, Ramaphosa and the anomaly of an ‘exclusive’ Apartheid African Identity

Last week, the subject of an African identity, again involuntarily thrust itself upon our national conscience where two distinct, yet not so inseparable events occurred. One event appeared to be a personal, spur of the moment incident. The second was a long-planned centenary celebrations event that looks like it was crowned with a personal statement. On the face of it, one can conclude that these were isolated events that confirm the different tides in the maelstrom of South Africa.

For some of us who are active in the sphere of identity politics and its anomalies in democracy, last week marked another opportunity to advance an honest debate

Floyd Shivambu, Deputy President of the Economic Freedom Fighters whose demeanour often reflects an obdurate, short-tempered politician and intellectual ripped into the Deputy Director General of Treasury, Ismail Momoniat at a committee meeting in Parliament recently. He accused Momoniat of undermining African leadership.

According to Shivambu, Momoniat is repeatedly showing up at meetings of Parliament’s Standing Committee of Finance to represent Treasury. For Shivambu, the apparent constant presence of Momoniat at these sessions translates to the undermining of African leadership since it appears Treasury lacks Africans to fulfil the role.

For the record, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance previously expressed concerns that the same people show up to brief parliament and the representation fails to reflect the demographics of South Africa hence efforts must be made on the part of Treasury to evidence transformation on this score.

There could, therefore, very well be a case for a claim of a National Treasury overhaul since it is possible that some, over a period of time, may have entrenched themselves as the end-and-be-all of what treasury should reflect.

Shivambu’s claims against Momoniat extends to that of an African leadership role being usurped. Surprisingly, the elites, in responding to Shivambu resorts to the politics of deflection.

While Shivambu, in his typical uncouth style showed his hand and heart, the responses to him came mostly assimilated in what I choose to call – “the politics of deflection” since a crossbreed of former activists, politicians and businesspersons came to the rescue of Momoniat, without seeking to deal with the proverbial elephant in the room, the controversial subject of an exclusive African identity as borrowed from apartheid.

The fundamental issue on Shivambu’s statement on Momoniat remains unanswered. It is the usual embarrassment of the elites that is on display again.

We have seen this before. Remember the so-called xenophobia attacks? They seldom engage the matter at hand but resort to quick fix counter attacks as a means to avoid the real issue at hand.

Enoch Godongwana the ANC Chairperson of the Subcommittee for Economic Affairs in his official response fell into this same trap of defending the person, work-ethic and contributions of Momoniat with the liberation struggle as the epicentre.

Shivambu stood accused of idiocy and was labelled a racist. Those who did not listen to Shivambu failed to hear him within the framework of an exclusive African identity but instead, retorted that his “attack” on Momoniat was absurd, ill-informed and rather nonsensical.

None of those who self-define as black within the ANC told Shivambu in an unequivocal sense, Momoniat is as African as you may ever be.

They could not say that because that would be admitting the contradiction of a ‘black in general and African in particular’ notion premised on degrees of pain as the defining principle. That position has come to define the ANC and government policy over the last 24 years.

Unfortunately, among the political elite, those who self-define with an Indian identity, in typical herd-mentality fashion took umbrage to this ‘cabal’ notion and rather sought to defend an Indian identity when they were supposed to question the illogic of Shivambu and the ANC National Question on an exclusive African identity, clearly a missed opportunity.

We all know the identity configurations of African, ‘Black’, ‘White’ ‘Coloured’ and ‘Indian’ as used during Apartheid hardly had any cultural essence to it but are endemically racist labels depicting a hierarchy of relational powers of oppression.

For the record, the role of Momoniat is not the issue and cannot conveniently be made the central issue. What Shivambu acted out is the power and privilege of an exclusive African identity, which excludes Momoniat.

Ramaphosa tells Afrikanerbond ‘You are Africans, we must accept that’.

Last week, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa the ever-smiling, media-sensitive, translucent salesman of a new-dawn campaign delivered the keynote address at the centenary celebrations of the Afrikanerbond formerly the Broederbond.

Remember that clandestine white male exclusive club notorious for its grip on the politics and economy of apartheid South Africa?

Ramaphosa in my assessment delivered a very well-balanced speech, in which he took his host on a historical journey that shows the reality of race centred inequality. He challenged them to engage the land question instead of seeing it as a threat.

However, Ramaphosa also said: “You are Africans, and we must accept that”. This makes the debate on the exclusive African identity as acted out by Shivambu a very interesting one in this season.

When Ramaphosa says; “you are Africans”, it can either mean that the claim as advanced by many from the Afrikaner group finally reached his ears. Or did Ramaphosa use the opportunity to remind those who claim an Afrikaner identity (a relatively young concept for Afrikaans speaking white identity) that they are exactly what they never wanted to be named African as projected by them?

We know apartheid’s benefactors who contested an Anglo-Boer war and are in constant attempt of reinventing themselves, evidently long ago realised their choice definition for those they had targeted in the aim of exacting the worst abuse of racist white power dominance came back to bite them since it only alienated them.

They have been yearning to hear they are Africans though not in the myopic and racialist dehumanised sense of what they categorised a group since 1948.

When Ramaphosa says; ‘and we must accept that’, is he begrudgingly conceding defeat to the Afrikaner claim to an African identity? Is it a rude awakening or is it a matter of finally permitting sense to prevail? Did Ramaphosa break with ANC identity politics and policy?

Did the Ramaphosa, one-liner redefine the subject of identity politics for a post-apartheid South Africa since he broke with the traditional stance hitherto upheld of ‘black’ and ‘African’ distinctions?

We are not yet sure what to make of Ramaphosa’s statement. Is this ANC policy, or is it new-dawn policy? On another level was Ramaphosa the politician courting votes or was he just engaging in political banter?

The jury remains out on the issue and we have not yet heard from Luthuli house as to the statement of its president on the African identity subject matter since it warrants unpacking for its meaning in the ANC and its policy footprint.

We warrant knowing if this statement which he delivered to the applause of the Afrikanerbond members, is the new thinking in the ANC? What are the implications of his statement? Was Ramaphosa inadvertently answering Shivambu who does not share the notion of an African unless it is in apartheid description?

Does this signal the break with the propagators for a hegemonic thinking around a National Question era of identity politics that has gripped while it choked on with empty non-racial rhetoric? How will this shape Government Policy of redress as SA moves forward?

The irony of what transpired last week was that Shivambu from the EFF articulated ANC policy as it relates to its accepted National Question identity politics when the ANC and SA President Ramaphosa in his address broke with that same ANC policy with his announcement of an African identity for Afrikaners.

Momoniat is as African as Shivambu may ever hope to be not because he was in the liberation struggle, not because he is a respected civil servant and neither because Ramaphosa told Afrikaners they are African, but due the fact that any time one seeks to use Africa for more than direction and geographical position you run the risk of choking in your own assumptions.

We are all African when we consciously dispense of the apartheid frame of what constitutes an African.

Clyde N.S Ramalaine

Political Commentator & Writer

14/06/2018