Walking with the ‘Wounded’: The gateway to Tuynhuis !

-Walking with the wounded, the gateway to Tuynhuis –

‘Advice to the ‘anointed President Motlanthe’: Take a leaf from the books of Mbeki and Zuma’

There is an adage that an old clergy shared with me many years ago on the three stages of the life of a pastor. He said the first stage is when they sing your praise, the second stage they question you and the final stage they call for your head. In my short life I have seen that over and over yet this is not limited to the church but is playing out in front of our eyes in ANC politics as the political trade winds are blowing across the arid spaces of South Africa.

This weekend the subject to final appeal expelled president of the ANCYL, Julius Malema in Limpopo in mix masala of threat, sadness and defiance, at a rally officially called for a replacement of Zuma with Motlanthe his deputy. This call is gradually gaining momentum in some circles. It appears we are set for the sequel of a Polokwane 2007, which i for nomenclature shall call  the ‘Promised Mangaung of REVENGE’. It is said history ‘repeats itself the first time in a farce the second in tragedy’.

One most probably can go through the entire history of the ANC and draw parallels as to a role the Youth League played in electing ANC leaderships. Yet that is not the focus of my attention in this article for I draw a distinction between the ANC elections before an ANC Led government and elections under an ANC Led Government. It is still my contention that as powerful the presidencies of a Tambo and others are made out, it simply cannot be compared with that of Mandela, Mbeki, Zuma and potentially now a Motlanthe. These come mixed with power and enormous control of resources, purse strings and political machinery attended by governance these bring a dynamism to the table that the ANC itself is apparently struggling to acclimatise with, and possibly like other things of governance was not ready to contend with.

The history of the elections of presidents of the ANC who ultimately become SA presidencies lends itself to the same dictum of firstly celebration, then question, defiance and ultimately either recall or dethroning. Perhaps with the exception of a Mandela, who opted for one term only, all others are subject to the adage of the clergy.

This past weekend the deputy president of the ANC and SA as requested by the Youth League addressed as keynote speaker a Youth League rally at the Nkonkowa stadium in Tzaneen, Limpopo. The process followed as confirmed by the secretary general of the ANC is that requests are  lodged at his office for a speaker to attend an ANC or structure rally or gathering.  The ANCYL complied with such procedure and  its wish was granted to have their “anointed president” address them. Hence Motlanthe attending this rally came with the blessing of the ANC leadership.

The print media headlines for this weekend and this morning attest of the happenings of the rally.  It is without any doubt Kgalema Motlanthe’s finest hour,  the dream elections are made of when a constituency as powerful in historic and mostly in rhetoric claim outrightly confirms once candidature, without you asking for such. This though the actual succession debate is claimed to only officially open according to the ANC in October 2012. One would be fooled to believe no election campaigns are under way, with the visible lobbying and preferred lists doing the rounds.

The reality is Motlanthe will do well to appreciate the fate of others before him who similarly were once first celebrated, adored, then questioned, defied and ultimately demonised.

Less we forget that it was the Youth League under the late Peter Mokaba who was instrumental in the election of a Thabo Mbeki; it was the same Youth League, under a Fikile  Mbalula who along with a concentration of voices began to complain of his aloofness, his claimed use of state machinery to silence contenders. It was the Youth League who questioned his loyalty to the ANC and accused him of silencing debate in the ANC.

So harsh were Mbeki’s detractors  until T-shirts with his face on was set alight and Ma’ Mbeki a loyal and disctinct member of the old guard had to respond in defending her leader who happens to also be her son. It is in the final analysis the same Youth League as propelled by a Fikile Mbalula who in the spring of 2008 called for his proverbial head as president vowing to remove him before the end of the  the longest week in post democratic politics. This articulated in the mouth of a Malema declaration.  By late that Saturday in the spring of September 2008 in what Mbeki’s most loyal and forever lieutenant Rev. Frank Chikane immured in biased fashion memoralised as a claimed coup-d’état, his head was delivered in the same  way Herodias asked for of John the Baptist’s on a platter. He would not even conclude his second term of which a mere 7 months was left.

Then the villain was Mbeki, and the victim Zuma. The Youth League declared their undying love for a Zuma, a love which would see them take a bullet for Zuma.

Malema even swayed COSATU’s Zwelinzima Vavi to also admit his preparedness to take a bullet for Zuma. The songs “my president” reverberated as Zuma went from court to court until Polokwane and ultimately Tuynhuis. The youth league was fierce in their support, unbridled in their pursuit and claimed a victory in having their man, Zuma regardless of a legitimate case to answer or not. Vavi, talked in his scorched voice of the unstoppable Zuma tsunami en route to Tuynhuis.

The same Youth League led the charge for a political solution. It is hardly three years since then and the tables have so decisively turned. In the first year of Zuma’s reign, the Youth League began to claim the lack of leadership, mobilised by a cohort of interest thinly snared all vying for the soul of control of the ANC. The centre of the ANC became contested terrain as the  claim love waxed cold. Celebration made way for questioning as they began to question more and more with veiled nuances  a mumbled suspicion of the Zuma leadership.

The Youth League, by virtue of their offical spokesman, Malema proved more and more defiant as they began to pronounce as if they lead the ANC. The first signs and indications of this questioning of mother body leadership and jibes were shielded by amongst others the president and the secretary general as youthful utterances. They pleaded with the public that we all prove patient and afford Juju time to grow as a leader for he possessed the qualities of a future president.

It was not long when Juju led by whomever openly began to compare the leaderships of Zuma and his predecessor. The proverbial horse bolted, and questioning grew into defiance. It took the NGC of 2010 for Zuma in his political report to lay down the rules of organisational discipline. Yet as much as we celebrated this as the return of sanity and discipline in the organisational context, the factions were formed and the dissent was mounting. Malema briefly suffered haemorrhage at the NGC; as he cut a lonely figure save for the  available shoulder of Mother Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The Youth League managed to get their twin-proposals of nationalisation adopted as future research work and the generational mix leadership nuanced manifested in a Fikile Mbalula and Malusi Gigaba becoming deputy ministers among others in this first round of reshuffle, they both ultimately would be given full cabinet minister status in the second reshuffle. The Cabinet reshuffle of Zuma did not quell the dissent, for it appeared the council of the wounded was fractured and all bidding a leading of the ANC, in which the sitting president became the target of all to share their views and ideological stances.

To make matters worse the demand of discipline from some circles in the ANC particularly the old guard became louder as the need to align the Youth League to what is called ANC organisational discipline culture mounted.  The ANC instituted disciplinary hearings which concentrated the us – and – them  of imaginary circles.  Knowing our South African insatiable apetite for a victim and villain narrative, the Youth League begin to claim a victim status as the NDC and NDCA findings confirmed the variety of cases against them.

Let us not forget how the open defiance and rejection of ANC leadership under Zuma was evidenced when Zuma in the middle of his speech turned around on the podium and publically rebuked Floyd Shivambu the spokesman of the ANCYL. Zuma resorted to the vernacular to emphasise his rebuke. The lines were drawn for if Floyd Shivambu was this vocal, on the strength of what did that come or as we always say on whose behalf did he speak? The Youth League never speaks alone but shares the views of some in the motherbody who have their own political agenda, it was the same with Mbeki, Zuma and will be the same with Motlanthe if he manages to make it to out of the Mangaung elective conference as the President of the ANC.

The second disciplinary hearing, though necessary exacerbated the gulf between what the Youth League defined as leadership and what a Zuma leadership stood for. The die was cast, as the voices began calling for the proverbial “substitute Mr. Referee”.

This weekend the Youth League sported in defiance the T- shirts of their preferred president, they went to Limpopo, where presidents are made, recalled, rebuked and ultimately dethroned. Limpopo where victims become villains and villains become victims. Yes Limpopo where it is claimed Malema runs the tenders and companies associated with his friends have won tenders of over half a billion rand. Limpopo a provincial Government where 5 departments are National Administration.

Kgalema Motlanthe the apparent reluctant and claimed less trusted lieutenant in many circles, accused as one who waited very late to join the Zuma group at Polokwane has finally shown his hand, as the Newage Newspaper  Henry Jeffries pleaded for him to do a few days ago.

For lifting his hand Motlanthe deserves no rebuke for there is nothing wrong with that in an organisation that claims a democracy of structure and being as ethos. If he has any hopes of running South Africa again, then he needs a constituency. If he has any hope of running successfully in Mangaung he must need start early. The constituency that elected him the Youth League more out of anger has chosen him as the anointed president. As Motlanthe spoke and delivered a speech it was soaked in Youth adoration, it was critiquing the very administration he is the second in command of. It was his call for a militant youth- this under normal circumstances an acceptable call, yet now loaded with ambivalence for the political machineries are at work in the ANC and campaigning is underway.

The Secretary General Gwede Mantashe came under attack for an augmentation or claimed fabrication of NEC minutes and was openly questioned by among others the aspiring secretary generaland anointed future secretary general if the Youth League has its way. Such is the tale of a sea-saw power  in which emotion and less reason dictate the meridian of sanity.  This past weekend’s rally even had a Zanu-PF Youth leadership member castigate and  articulate his rebuke and dissatisfaction of a Zuma mediation, by telling Zuma – ‘Zimbabwe is a sovereign state, and not a 10th province of south Africa”. It is becoming clear that SADC’s second longest serving president Oom Bob Mugabe except for Angola’s quiet Eduardo Dos Santos, has invested more than a few cows in the ANCYL president’s future farming prospects but may have an active hand in the happenings south of the Limpopo River.

As the Zuma star is falling, (with all over community uprises, a COSATU and its antics of e-tolling, a DA successful appeals court bid to have access to information on why charges were withdrawn against Zuma by the then serving national Prosecuting head Advocate Mokotedi Mphse, real challenges of service delivery as exposed by a visible public protector, who more and more is seen as the president of SA) and he is now the subject of open abuse, cursing and scorn, a Motlanthe star is rising and shining ( not witsstanding consistent media reports of shady corruption deals) if the rally is the barometer of assessment. It is Motlanthe who walks among the wounded, as their hope for unseating what Julius now call the man with a bighead in reference to the one he swore to die for.

So for now Motlanthe like Zuma  and Mbeki much earlier must be allowed to gloat in his moment of blissful Youth Celebration, for the same Youth League maybe with a new president will afford him less than a year before the vicious cycle is repeated. The same the wise old preacher warned me about in which as a preacher you are firstly praised for you are invited to all parties and dinners then the questioning informed by mistrust, which leads to open defiance and ultimately your head is called for in which you become a villain and the very ones who praised you the victims. For Zuma joins Mbeki in the song they together bellow in melancholic tune captured in the Holy writ of  Old Testament prophet Zechariah : “i was wounded in the house of my friends”.

Hence we wish Motlanthe well for, he will need all of this, when he as is claimed is elected at a Promised Mangaung of Revenge, for as the same Youth League now sings his praise so they will question his leadership, accusing him of indecisiveness when he fails to deliver nationalisation the way they see it. The will castigate him when he prove slow to enact the wishes and prove bias against their personal empowerment aims. They will tire of him trying to lead them, as their wishes prove not consistent with his. They will remind him like Zuma is reminded of his many sins from a claimed rape, corruption, pregnancies and who knows what. They will remind him of his claimed oilgates saga, his partner’s claimed corruption of R10million bribe deals and anything that has a tinge of taintedness in his past known and unknown, for Public Protector or none, they will have the arrows when it matters, tested or not to release against him.

One thing is certain in SA a two-term presidency for elected individuals appears something of the past if the Youth League has its way.  I suppose come 2017, if the Promised Mangaung of Revenge happens it will be a Sexwale or a Phosa who will be invited to the rallies as the new villain will be the current celebrated future president, when he too is offloaded for having misled them to champion the cause of nationalisation etc.

My biggest fear was heightened when Malema for the first time fired a salvo of a tribalism, the precarious and venomous ingredient we all simply cannot afford, for it is not impossible that the Promised Mangaung of Revenge may finally become tainted by the less stated, hushed theme of the advent of tribalism. My prayer may we not get there.

Respectfully submitted.

Clyde N. Ramalaine is a member of “The Thinking Masses”


Mamphele Ramphele the SA’ headmistress has spoken !!

-Defending a Constitution that needs no defence –

Ramphele, the public intellectual and former Black Consciousness activist joins the chorus of those who sing from a hymnal “Our democracy is under threat by the ANC”.

She was scathing in her venting on the president and the ANC for betraying the legacy of what it stood for.  Ramphele who has held virtually all significant posts rightfully so, has also taken on the role of headmistress of the South African society, it is this last designation that we hear when she is scathing in attacking the ANC on the question of Constitutional progress in the developmental state.

She joins the chorus of those who claim to know informed by her conviction that the ANC when it asks relevant questions on our constitution necessarily seeks to obliterate the constitution.

Firstly, this argument is less honest for it thrives on the myth that the constitution is a document that is finalized and cast in stone and must not be touched or questioned, even if it means for the advancement of the cause of progress for a society that seeks answers for the conundrums it faces.

Ramphele like many others argues that our constitution cannot be regarded as a work in progress but sacrosanct and finalised notwithstanding the evolving challenges a developmental state presents.  South Africa as it stands prior to its hallowed constitution is a politically negotiated settlement the same that gave impetus, texture and context for the very constitution. That very negotiated settlement was never blindly celebrated, but unequivocally acknowledged with its inherent deficits and challenges.

By the time of its adoption we have enshrined ideals that we have not lived in practicality; we have embraced what we less understood in praxis, we have enjoined what were not free from challenge.

To therefore act as if the constitution was a worked out tried and tested recipe that guarantees the same predictable results is to be less honest with the spirit and history of the constitution. It is common knowledge that when the proverbial founding fathers sat down and came up with this writ it borrowed from all those it could for SA until than knew nothing about democracy as practice.  Our constitution was regarded by many is ultra progressive, tone setting in global context even surpassing 200 year old democracies. That was the context of the constitution.

Our transformative developmental state has in my opinion a constitution that proves less workable in some areas if the agenda is levelling the playing fields.

The second reason why this argument of democracy is under threat fails to hold resonates in this. The proponents of the ‘fear rhetoric’ proves silent when they are confronted with the confirmed reality that it has been said ad-nausea, our constitution has been altered for a variety of reasons no less than 16 times since its adoption.

This must attest to the resilience of our entrenched democracy, that notwithstanding the many times it was visited by the demand of change, it came out stronger more effervescent and better for the developmental state called South Africa. This must lend credence to our claim that the constitution in that sense remains a celebrated work in progress document.

Ramphele in the centennial year of the ANC chooses to read the ANC the riot act, as those in opposition to a constitutional democracy. She takes her proverbial caning to the Zuma presidency and if that was not enough swipes at the entire ANC leadership claiming it is  silent when one of the architects of the constitution and  ANC – NEC member Cyril Ramaphosa and  head of Policy development and Minister of Justice, Jeff Radebe along with the President dealt with this even in his opening of parliament decisively. ANC leaders have made it emphatically clear  what the ANC’s commitment to the Constitution is and remain.

Perhaps what Ramphele do not tell us is that she joined those who believe democracy is only experienced, in opposition. These remonstrate that those who lost in the ballot are the natural custodians of democracy, and therefore also the ones whose voices must be taken serious notwithstanding the ideological cage of those.

It leaves one to wonder from what premise or angle this headmistress sjambokking comes.

It is the undying believe of the claimed ‘custodians’ of democracy that the ANC cannot be trusted with democracy. That the ANC is the enemy of the people’s democracy. This sophism parades from judiciary, public intellectuals, media, and untransformed civil society and opposition parties and is shared liberally in a narrative that seeks to shape public discourse with politically vested interest.

Some of us have consistently argued we cannot transform this economy exemplified in land, etc to inculcate the place it suppose to be for those who are necessarily the poor, left behind and “black” masses, if we do not revisit this constitution from time to time for we are a developmental state.

It is alarmist and less honest to see this in a myopic sense of undoing the ANC legacy, and bespeaks the agenda of making the ANC the enemy of the people as if the people do not know different.

Ramphele, have joined the chorus of the liberalist and ‘white’ elite having benefitted grossly from the new dispensation to critique the ANC its president and leadership from an ivory tower of a claimed morality.

Her veiled association with a Democratic Party leadership as a touted future leader of such (though she has not admitted to such) leaves one no option but to accept for some of our public intellectuals the politics of opposition for opposition sake proves real.

For Ramphele and those who politically want to scare us into the night with the typical fear-factor ticket, we say we will alter as was done before this constitution, for it is a means to an end. Our tampering with it is necessary as we define and redefine our developmental state demands. Doing this will not be the sin mea-culpa or the unpardonable sin and should not be conveniently made out as such.

The constitution remains a “work in progress” that must find meaning in the dichotomy of our  sojourn in finding correct measures to deal with the historical reality of an apartheid that left more than indentations that can be panel beaten into correction, but must be obliterated at other intervals.

Another challenge with this glorification of the constitution is the fact that it is a false one for it asks for worshipping of it for unholy reasons. If the ANC negotiated in CODESA in what is termed and called the first phase namely political liberation and now after soul search has to contend with the reality of an avalanche of economic disparity where whites still earn, own, mines and land and control Democratic South Africa backed by a constitution that proclaims our equality less our disparity, is it not right to ask what has been the role of the constitution in perpetuating unintentionally this disparity.

Ramphele and the new elite black voices speak from the comfort of their interest and have claimed a right above others to reprimand, castigate and accuse all informed by a liberalist ethos. Lest we forget it’s the voice of Ramphele that gives meaning to the untransformed civil society structures like FUL who often seeks to confirm the stereotype that South Africa governed by an ANC needs direction the same it claims it knows how.

Clearly black voices speaking white minds, for lack of a better word.

Finally those who prognosticate a gospel of a sacrosanct SA Constitution tampers with infringing our rights as voters to determine what we need when and by what means. These will work to demonize the legitimate issue of a 2/3majority and will breathe fear into a public discourse where the ANC remains the enemy of the people. Perhaps democracy is under threat by those who want to reduce the ballot as a substandard of our democracy, in which other arms and means, is found to co-govern this country in the name of a constitution from a lost ballot.

These advocating a questioning of the constitution and interpreting of such as the undoing of ANC Legacy, must not attempt to blackmail us  who voted and is still held immured by the nightmare of a “blackness” visited upon us by an identity that wanted all to believe in their “whiteness”.

It does not bother Ramphele and her cohort when SA in constitutional embrace remains owned in land 86% by those who constitute 12% of the SA population.

It is of less concern that this economy remains and apartheid economy protected by a bill of rights.

It is no issue that the majority of SA, unlike the few elites, still struggle for a living wage.

Ramphele acts as the typical headmistress of South African society, with a claim from a black consciousness association in the superlative, yet she speaks the mind of the liberalist, the ethos of the integrationist, need I remind the same her mentor Steve Biko vehemently opposed.

COSATU under Vavi an opposition from within Alliance embrace ?

The Legacy of Vavi, a cultic personality driven agenda based leadership

     – An opposition from within  alliance embrace –

Recent rumblings in organised labour exemplified in COSATU is lending itself to the critical question has COSATU, the workers vanguard, fallen prey to usurp by individual or personality politics.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to discern how much of what its voiced, as Vavi talk or COSATU consulted policy. Vavi is the legitimate general secretary of the COSATU and is its primary spokesperson so he must speak.

That is not the challenge nor the point of contention but what is being said, warrants scrutiny. I would be the first to admit that it is rather challenging to understand how a COSATU functions daily as it represents a cohort of federations scattered across the job sector of an SA economy, to articulate in a daily fashion on critical issues in a leading sense.

Yet the COSATU we talk about has many challenges, not to mention the politics that it finds itself mired in with competing individuals readying themselves for its upcoming elections. These contestations while in democratic sense normal and to be expected has in latter days emerged in factions of those who endorse the ANC leadership and those who increasingly have assumed the role of an opposition within alliance embrace. It appears the flu of Mangaung has infiltrated the workers body, if the dissenting voices manifesting in COSATU leadership is any indication of assessment.

COSATU increasingly seeks to deconstruct itself separate from the ANC as the hope of a South African economic future. It off late has become the champion against corruption with its well publicised Corruption Watch, the same we must still see if it will deliver the claimed fruits. COSATU seeks to be known as the face of the legitimate custodian of the SA citizenry and people. It purports to be the watchdog of human rights. An internal opposition in a tripartite alliance who claims a right above others.

So oppositional is the COSATU as led by Vavi in its daily utterances that one could mistake it to be in alliance with the official opposition of Democratic Alliance.  COSATU with its approximate 2million members is involved in ANC politics and pronounce on ANC issues that has little if anything to do with workers issues. It is vocal on lending credence to a claim that it is out to unseat the current ANC leadership at least by being defiant, often in tit for tat remarks if the last exchange of membership to the ANC of the workers is read carefully.

COSATU’s Vavi is the medusa of androgynous reinvention; the hydra with many tentacles of sjamboks dishing out lashes to the ANC, Government and Business.  It is Vavi who knows about hit lists. It is Vavi who knows who has what knife out for whom. It is Vavi who castigates ANCYL’s leadership as charlatans parading in self interest. He exerts and challenges the authority of the ANC in leading this alliance, arguing the centre of the Alliance must be in what I choose to call a “hung parliament of dualism”. Let us not forget that at some stage there was a call for restraint others went as far as asking that Vavi be disciplined.

COSATU’s mouthpiece hogs the media as he barks at all and has shown COSATU or rather himself in contestation to run this country either in co-governance or by false attempt at manipulating the leadership of the ANC. One is simply not sure when it is Vavi or COSATU speaking.

COSATU’s mouthpiece spares no opportunity to prove the opposite of an ANC leadership claiming a moral high ground of being immune to corruption and has chosen the corruption mantra the convenient political football in SA politics as his campaign theme, and assegai with which he hopes to bury his personal political foes.

So vocal has Vavi become on none-worker issues that his president Sdumo Dlamini found his utterances objectionable on the ANC President, clearly revealing the factions and camps in COSATU.

Dhlamini also asked for explanations on the Malema address of the COSATU Gauteng march. The provincial Chairperson of COSATU in Gauteng wrote a scathing article in which he in his personal capacity is taking the COSATU president to task.  These are clearly signs of what COSATU has become under a Vavi leadership.

It appears that Vavi thrives in factionalism, his latest antics on the DA application  for access to information on the NDPP scrapping of charges against Zuma (which is the DA’s right) is another salvo he delivers from a loaded and pointed gun.

The love affair he shared with SACP’s leadership namely Gwede Mantashe (Chairperson of the SACP and ANC Secretary General, Blade Nzimande (Secretary General of the SACP and Cabinet Minister) and Jeremy Cronin (Deputy Secretary General of SAC and a Deputy Minister of Transport) seems not existent anymore.

May I add not because COSATU stands disparate from the SACP in common economic outlook principals but more so due to personality driven agenda based politics, that profusely finds enemies in comrades despite the legitimate cause of redress and transformation for which the alliance came together to create a better life for all.

One would not be wrong to say that there is gulf between COSATU and the SACP not by original design or member animosity but by individual personality driven politics. Nzimande warned recently against this personality and agenda informed campaigns where workers or the poor is used by some to fight the legitimate and duly elected government.

To show the twisted saga of  personality self-interest politics, Zwelinzima Vavi, not long ago was at pains to call the Malema led ANCYL leadership and others tenderpreneurs hellbent on robbing the masses, necessarily undoing the gains of the freedom fighters through crass materialism intoxicated by avarice and greed.

To demonstrate this accusation COSATU organized its march against the Limpopo Administrion of Cassel Mathale an ally of Malema, its claim was a march against corruption.

The same Vavi told all on the eve of the much publicised e- toll and ban labour brokers drive and march that “no politician will be on any stage”. He however as is claimed succumbed to the call of the workers to have Malema a politician speak.  Anyone that understands politics could see right through this as a means of defiance against the ANC, who subject to a second and final NDCA appeals hearing has expelled Malema.  So vitriolic is this desire to be oppositional that any and all tactics are acceptable even when one may use one who is directly the opposite of what one claims to be in morality.

The same Malema, Vavi generously accused of crass materialism. Clearly a game plan for those who know would tell that at some time in the not so long ago history, Vavi was promised the low in stock value ANC chairmanship (for it was offered to many). He was unfortunately  not the only one offered that others include Paul Mashatile, Tokyo Sexwale, even Thabo Mbeki’s name came up around the time of the Centennial celebrations.

This lead one again to ask is Vavi on his personal political and even “presidential” campaign where he seeks to bully his way in the name of the workers. Has COSATU become this factionalised beast, the product of self-interest and tool to create or extend ones political career?

Are all views expressed by Vavi, as the spokesman of COSATU, policy positions or are these personality positions? I’m on record for observing this trend as far back as 2010, which I observed then as the first signs of Vavi concoction of COSATU in personal interest emerged.

Off course he has a right to his political ambitions, off course he has a right to his views, off course there is nothing sinful in him aspiring. Yet there is everything wrong if he seeks to do this in the name of the workers.  There is everything wrong if he seeks to challenge an ANC leadership in oppositional faction mode when his constituency shares a tripartite alliance in which critical programs are discussed agreed on adopted.

If you ask me, Vavi does not learn for less we forget how the workers lost in 2010, when an ANC led government dug in its hills and refuse to concede to the demands of COSATU with its adamant 8, 6% and R800 housing allowance. After a marathon of all night deliberations, the bespectacled Vavi emerged on morning live sounding like he was contesting for the job of Themba Maseko, then spokesman of Government. He was considered by many in COSATU as a sell out for having agreed with government.

Again now with the e-tolling a legitimate challenge for we ordinary public must raise our voice. But COSATU as an alliance partner was part of the deliberations on ANC Manifesto and government plans in which e-tolling was discussed at least  so we are told by ANC leaders. The same ANC leadership who this week is meeting its alliance partner COSATU again for the umpteenth time to iron out differences.

Differences not in policy or necessity but differences emanating from the toxic personality politics, for the cult of individualism rules COSATU. The essence of the alliance is sutured not in  personalities nor in co equals but in sanguineness of mind that dictates the prevailing need to continue working for a better life for all as rightfully and legitimately led by the  ANC.

Government dug in its hills and said it won’t move notwithstanding Vavi’s threat to take the next march to the gantry’ infested Gauteng freeways. This last march was a success for the groundswell of numbers in opposition to the government e-toll plans struck a chord with a much wider constituency the same COSATU cannot claim as theirs.

For the record the people did not march against prevalence of labour brokers, the subject which is handled at NEDLAC. Government’s stance is clear regulation not abolishment; this is irking the daylights out of COSATU’s Vavi. Who is yet to find a correct weapon to stave off an ANC leadership who fears not to govern despite threats?

Vavi has become the darling of the media, as they found in him a voice that strikes an opposition chord. Given the tension one wonders with all the bickering and complying why COSATU has not yet gone on its own to contest elections informed by an economic system that constitutes the axis of a claimed socialist model.

I guess it can’t do that for the role and place it finds itself in is an enviable one where COSATU claims a right to reprimand all but itself. It is yet to own up to its role in job shedding, it is yet to accept joint responsibility in the mess our education finds itself. It is yet to acknowledge that COSATU leaders are not as clean as they purport to be. That it too desires the power to control this country in governance without accepting legitimate responsibility for its failures.

We should not be surprised if more emotional rhetorical views are shared, for in the build up to Mangaung and the COSATU elective conference political expediency will rear its head more often as friendships prove less longevity and enemies kiss and make up in the name of personality cultic and individual interest, the fuel behind much of what we see in our public tripartite alliance discourse.

Clyde N. Ramalaine, a Member of ‘The Thinking Masses’

The Politics of Victimhood – A reality in SA !

The Politics of victimhood ! “ Is the victim and villain psyche, holding SA hostage”?

Are we not sliding into the abyss of unaccountability and irresponsibility claiming victimhood as an excuse when we have a legitimate case to answer?

The NDC of the ANC has pronounced on the mitigation against sentence of the three Youth League leaders. When the NDCA Chairperson some three weeks ago read out the verdict of its deliberations, it confirmed the guilty verdict with a proviso that an opportunity is extended to the appellants to make their case for mitigation of sentence, this extended provision also equally afforded the prosecutors to make an equal case for aggravation.

The NDC has concluded that in the case of Floyd Shivambu and Sindiso Magaqa they have each received informed by their first offender status a 3 year suspended sentence. As for Julius Malema, he due to the fact that he had made himself guilty of the same contravention in less than 2 years and coupled with his utterances of rejecting the NDC and NDCA findings and threatening a veiled mobilisation of Youth – Uprise in the ANC was deemed as someone who cannot be rehabilitated in membership sense hence expulsion is the order of the day.

The debates and discussions are raging on all fronts, pitting opposing and conflicting views of those who believe the sentence is too harsh and has clear political motive or gerrymandering as base and those who believe that justice was done in organisational context where discipline seemed to have become a somewhat remote practice in recent ANC history.

Amidst all these opposing liberally shared views in all media platforms one is beginning to make an observation that as South Africans it appears we are in love with the idea of ‘victim and villain psyche’. It appears that our obsession with victim and villain psyche blurs our objective thinking, logical reasoning and rightful analyses.

The Malema saga is the latest episode in this victim and villain drama. I shall revert back to him a little later but must first cite a few maybe forgotten incidents.

If we remember that fateful morning in 2005 when Jacob Zuma as deputy president of country and organisation was fired by the sitting President Thabo Mbeki, on the basis of an impending court case of fraud as claimed partnered by a Shabir Shaik, he was made out a victim of the brutal political maneuverings of an Mbeki arsenal.

Zuma went around the whole country (ANC context) drumming up support and showed the scars of these skirmishes with a supposed political villain who refused to have people disagree with him. It was not difficult for Zuma to find comrades who shared in what I choose to call the ‘brotherhood of the collective hurt’ he easily found many who equally claimed inflicted scars supposedly experienced at the same hand. These included many such as Siphiwe Nyanda, Billy Masetlha, Ace Magashula, Tony Yengeni, Blade Nzimande and many others. Zuma’s ascendency to the throne came heavily indebted to the ‘brotherhood of the collective hurt’ because he was made out a victim and Mbeki the villain.

What we cannot argue is that Zuma had a case to answer, and if it was not for the political expedient moves of NDPP heads both positive and negative for his political career, as we remember the ill-timed and unfortunate press briefing of a Bulelani Ngcuka, the so called role of a Vusi Pikoli and ultimately the withdrawing of charges as articulated by a Mokotedi Mpshe. Notwithstanding the role of the NDPP heads Zuma if we understand the Shabir Shaik case had a case to answer.

In a twist of tails when Advocate Willem Heath did the unthinkable of pronouncing his clearly political and pain–borne views on Mbeki’s role in dealing with a Zuma, many who deem themselves black who had lived through that epoch and knowing the claims acted as if these claims were new, necessarily the design and making of a Willem Heath. For a split second Heath was made out the villain and Thabo Mbeki the victim.

It remains a mystery as to what made a Heath to prove bold enough to prove quiet until such time as he was appointed SIU Boss, an office he held for hardly two weeks when he had to resign as a direct result of these conclusive statements. Yet what cannot be denied is the fact that at that time Mbeki, was blamed as one who did not appreciate the political ambitions of the others (Ramaphosa, Sexwale and Phosa investigation claims). The same who at the time demanded that Zuma make known his political ambitions and Zuma obliged to say he had none.

What cannot be disputed is that in the greater scheme of things Mbeki had a case to answer for the claim of those who argued he was intolerant to the ambitions of others therefore instituting charges against those who aspired. Many made Mbeki out the villain, as Zuma became the victim.

Notwithstanding the inadmissibility of evidence to prove that Mbeki directly was instrumental in dealing with a Zuma politically with the blessedness of state machinery, the issue remains the claim of political interference or orchestration, which was never tested or proved, yet felt looms forever in the backdrop casting a silhouette of Mbeki imagery.

We saw another jolt of this ‘victim and villain psyche’ when Mbeki was recalled in that scary yet eventful and historic week in September of 2008. Suddenly many felt the same man who was made out a villain and the so called control freak who destroyed as was claimed free thinking in ANC embrace and supposedly used state apparatus to deal with others who had political aspirations, in one night reduced even a Phylicia Oppelt (Sunday times columnist) to tears by her own admission. Mbeki proved pragmatic and did not choose to fight the decision of the ANC but vacated his seat, and became a victim until a COPE testified of its birth the perceptive reality of such victimhood. The ones who triumphed in Polokwane were made out the villains.

Recently, the National Government took over five departments in Limpopo who as a Provincial Government was teetering on bankruptcy exemplified in an overspent of close to R2bilion and a looming threat of non-payment of civil servants and essential services. This Section 100 intervention, which ought to be accepted as a provision made to be acted upon when the need arises, took all forms of twists in interpretation. We heard the remonstrations of political motive behind this intervention, notwithstanding the fact that it was the Province who approached the National Government for assistance.

The investigations are ongoing and one may not yet pronounce on the final outcomes, yet the issue of flaunting PFMA requirements, the abuse of tender procedures and state resources is widely beginning to be accepted as the critical reasons for the pathetic state of Limpopo Province’s financial condition. Quickly the issues became clouded and wrapped into political motive as the core reason behind the intervention. A Cassel Mathale, Soviet Lekganyane and many others never admitted to the state of the Province, but opted to see themselves as a victims and a Zuma administration the villain out to get at some politicians with 2012 Mangaung as the true reason.

This brings us to the Malema issue. Malema was one of those who publicly declared his was willingness to die for  a Jacob Zuma. Zwelinzima Vavi too said the same although he had a heart change in the heat of the fiercest public strike in post-apartheid context in 2010, when he said “I will never again say I will die for someone.” in reference to his dissatisfaction with a Zuma leadership. Malema, however as a member of the ANC joined the party voluntarily at the age of 11 as claimed. He accepted the organisational precepts and statutes as that which he shall uphold always putting the organisation first.

Yet he contravened in 2010 and was hauled before a NDC hearing, which he subjected himself to and was found guilty the same sentence he accepted without exercising his right to appeal at the time. It is important to note that the sentence at the time combined two aspects, on the one hand it laid it a list of activities / programmes aimed at aiding Malema to understand the ANC and it’s praxis better and two the challenge of no similar repeat due to its seriousness. Needless to say little was done to help him, for he found himself charged again in 2011.

Let me also make a footnote here, we all have written extensively and have been covered in a variety of print media on the role of a Malema in the critical issue of economic redress, though we may argue from a plethora of opposing reasons why he chose this issue as his mantra, no different to a Zwelinzima Vavi who has become the “molded” face of anti-corruption, we must afford Julius Sello Malema the respect to admit until his leadership the issue of economic redress remained a mumbled and directionless discourse in ANC circles especially because the agreed settlement of CODESA and subsequent constitution renders us all equal making this redress issue a challenging issue for this broad church Organisation, with an androgynous economic policy formulation coupled with the fact that many of its NEC boast billionaires and millionaire mile high club membership.

Yet, Malema, contravened the constitution of his beloved, ANC, he did not do so once but more than once and he faced hearings of which he accepted the first and rejected the second, throwing everything from NDC members bias, no space to mitigate for sentencing, ultimately rejecting the NDCA findings and declaring war on the leadership, though as he claim his blood remains green, gold and black. The NDC found that Malema has shown no remorse but used the mitigation to claim his complete innocence of any contravention of ANC policy rendering to question the entire disciplinary hearing of 2011 and the NDCA of 2012 as targeting him.

Malema has persuaded some to believe he is a victim and the existing ANC leadership the villain. Many have argued why was a political solution not found for him as they claimed was found for Zuma. This question does not make sense if closely examined simply because Zuma did not face a NDC hearing, we may argue he should have but at the time no case was made against him that could have proven or not whether he contravened the ANC constitution for the litany of things he stood accused as carried by the media. The pending investigations against the expelled leader’s finances, will also be made out as a with-hunt all part of the artillery the villain is using to deal with the victim. Again the wrongfulness of the purported deeds of tender rigging etc, proves immaterial and warrants no mention for all that matter is the victim and villain psyche must hold.

The proverbial hydra of ‘victim and villain psyche’ has many tentacles not just in ANC circles but also in many other sectors of our society, at least in my assessment.

SADTU is quick to claim a victim status as it blames Government for reneging on promises and for the state of education in SA. It claims a victimhood and makes the very government and everyone else villains. Yet SADTU never admits their collective responsibility in our poor matric pass, the fact that education has been made a political football in which at the drop of a hat industrial strike action can be ordered without ever considering the impact on the rights of students who has a right to be taught for almost 7 hours a day. Yet SADTU will tell us they are victims and there is someone or some group that constitutes the villain who is hell-bent on denying them its members their constitutional rights.

The Media is not excused from this victim and villain psyche, when it seeks to claim a fourth estate right, with self-regulation as an inalienable birthright. For any call on this sector of our society to transform  comes pelted with “we are victims and the ANC led Government is the villain”. The villain is wicked and out to destroy the victim. Yet the media never owns up to the litany of discrepancies that exist in self-regulation. It proves silent on the desperate need to transform at all levels which until now is interpreted as a sufficient in a few black editors. It claims a victim status and makes the state out to be the villain, and is prepared to mobilise against this villain whose aims according to the media remain suspect and evil. 

The Judiciary do the same, any questioning of such comes loaded with the acceptance of a victim and villain psyche wherein it is claimed the judiciary is under attack, by a Government who seeks to control it. Yet the judiciary argues it has already transformed as former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson myopically pontificates from a 64% black bench statistic as proof of such transformation. The judiciary makes the politicians out as villains, enemies of democracy  and therefore the people yet it claims for itself a victim status. Zapiro’s cartoons testified boldly and graphically how lady justice is purportedly being raped by the ANC leadership.

Perhaps Sindiso Magaqa for now still the serving Secretary General of the ANCYL in his mitigation made this point emphatic, erroneous and ill-informed though but clear when he said “in the ANCYL we deal with discipline through political means”. This notion dictates one must negotiate ill discipline, the ethos for discipline is subservient to political negotiations, it arbitrarily argues no one is guilty really, these are all victims and there are some villains (evil and wicked people) who have their political agendas hence these hearings. It advocates discipline is best served in negotiated settlement. 

This reasoning as absurd as it is, has gripped the minds and emotions of many who believe Malema was dealt with from pure political motive and did not make himself guilty of  any ill-discipline.  They confuse the agenda of economic redress with the issue of ill-discipline, the former remains a legitimate issue and the ANC has no issue but to begin to deal with this unless it is willing to suffer more haemorrhage.

The proponents of the Malema victim theory elevate a 2012 Mangaung Elective Conference to a ‘god- like status’ as a ultimate place where in ANC NEC embrace it will deal with the villain and his motive who now has scored the first victories. The truth is no doubt Zuma is potentially benefitting from these verdicts yet it is no excuse for the legitimate cases the Youth League leaders faced and was found to have contravened ANC Constitution, Malema and YL leaders had a case to answer before the NDC and they failed to prove their innocence. The Women’s League came out saying it accepted the NDC ruling for the NDC and NDCA are legitimate structures set up by the ANC NEC to ensure discipline is practiced in the life of the organisation as a non-negotiable, yet some Provincial Youth Leagues have rejected the NDC and NDCA rulings.

Perhaps the most interesting view came from Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula widely earmarked in some Youth Leagues circles as the replacement for Gwede Mantashe as Secretary General of the ANC in an argument of generational mix leadership. Mbalula, bemoans the decision as a historic event, he goes on to argue that former leaders were patient with the Youth “if it was not for their patience we would long have been expelled”.

Again, the victim and villain psyche even on the part of the Minister, who claims to be a loyal member of the ANC, but proves veiled in his attack on a villain, less stated but congregated in what juxtaposes as ‘the former leadership’. This by interpretation unequivocally suggests the present leadership is the villain and the expelled ANCYL president the victim, let us see how far Mbalula will push his views before it becomes challenging to the NDC and NDCA findings.  One had hoped that the Minister would have drawn a distinction between issues, yet it is easy to embrace the victim and villain status. 

Magaqa encapsulates my concern with the politics of victimhood, in which we never own up but seek to find solutions  in accosting blame outside ourselves when we do wrong. Political solutions that keeps no one accountable, where people may prove corrupt and be redeployed. It seems it always works to blame someone else, instead of owning up. This romanticizing of ‘victim and villain psyche’ in which accountability is left in abeyance and mediocrity embraced where owning up is never the order of the day, and blaming everyone else is becoming the defining skyline of a conflated morality in what we call SA as a liberated nation.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

A Member of the Thinking Masses