It is a fallacy to invoke a Christian morality of matrimony in SA presidential embrace !

– What hides behind these vented emotional claims and blackmail against polygamy as practice-

Let me make this disclaimer upfront, as the author of this controversial article I fundamentally believe in heterosexual one-man-one-women marriages defined in New Testament Christian classification.

This New Testament classification of matrimony as a standard I may have failed in if the definition that Jesus Christ gives on adultery stands “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28 NKJV). Having dealt with my unsolicited disclaimer, let’s move on now.

Waging a campaign on the morality of polygamy as a means to argue the abuse of women is the latest salvo in the arsenal of those who have determined President Zuma unfit to lead SA.

The challenge with this notion is its base, for it assumes a morality defined in marriage, the same which in our constitutional democracy is challenged and redefined to include a new western led alternative lifestyle model of same sex marriages (which the majority of citizens still find abhorrent). The latter with SA perhaps a leader in the world has raised new interpretations on the subject of marriage, its fundamentals, core meaning, age old accepted premise and definition.

The premise of the argument against polygamy raised in the political campaigns waged in South Africa, falsely assumes that the standard of marriage is self- evident in one-man-one-woman in the estate of heterosexual matrimony fundamentally a Calvinistic Christian perspective.

Let us not forget, that it was precisely this strong Calvinistic tradition the residual cornerstone of wrongful appreciation thereof that in Apartheid denied the long standing marriages of Africans and Muslims a space of equality as to that of Afrikaners, English and Coloureds only because these accommodated more than one spouse defined in women. I shall assume the ancient Khoisan practice of marriage definition and meaning would equally not have made the cut in the Apartheid era.

Those who today argue polygamy wrong, commits a fundamental infringement on the afforded constitutional franchise right of all on their convictions, historical practices and rites. This firstly serves as a direct threat to the constitutional rights of those who believe in the practice.

Secondly  not only is this a direct attack on the rights of others but it equally articulates  a denial of dignity of  the spouses associated in such marriages,  rendering them to a form of idiocy for allowing such abuse in a post-Beijing 1996 gender based  equality dictate.  It subliminally assumes those who practice polygamy as spouses lack the understanding, the wherewithal to decide for themselves and as a result of such incapacity enforces a sense of slavery on themselves.

I dare argue not even the strongest of campaigners  of women or feminist liberation may in a vacuum assume the right to argue polygamy as an ancient practice necessarily constitutes or translates to women abuse.

The third challenge is what constitutes the fundamental departure point of those who argue this claimed invoked morality for presidential candidature.

The challenge in South Africa is the President is a known practicing polygamist. This issue has thrust the debate and claims to the fore. I shall endeavour to argue this has become a misused issue by some who lacks perhaps justified reasons to oust the president, and now in emotional sense want to prove his preference of polygamous relationships as a means to prove him a woman abuser, bad example for the nation and one who is not sensitive to the presence of HIV/AIDS of South Africa.

At another level we must ask when the Christian standard has dictated our choice for presidents in both ANC and SA context. It would make an interesting research to find out how many of the celebrated ANC leaders in the 100 years of its existence practiced polygamy and if this particular issue ever surfaced as a contention. If ANC members have a problem with this polygamy they needed to make that a prerequisite for organisational leadership a long time ago, it cannot now feature for selfish reasons.

We therefore must ask the troubling question in a contextual sense can we invoke a Calvinistic Christian definition of marriage as a prerequisite for South African presidency?  Troubling for the author of this note is a Christian who believes in single marriages.  Troubling because 77% of this nation free willingly declared themselves in Census definition as Christians. This also can translate to comfortably assume that many who vote for the ANC come from this Christian premise.

Yet whilst this is a troubling and necessary question it is soiled in this election campaigning season with the claims of those who claim a higher morality, though dubious and very hypocritical.

If we choose to invoke such Christian morality immanent in matrimonial definition for political and high office we must ask from when is this relevant ethic to invoke? Can we also ask how the last presidents prior to the current one weigh up? Since we in the season of political leadership en route to what I have termed the “Promised Mangaung of Revenge” have found it correct to compare can we ask who of South Africa’s presidents have upheld the morally sound dictum of Calvinistic Tradition of matrimonial definition if such is the standard.

Let me again remind us that the Calvinistic Tradition in New Testament exegetical understanding and hermeneutic unlocking proves bias to one-man-for-one-woman in one-life-time-state-of-matrimony. My reason for arguing that is that divorce in New Testament context remains a much contemplated issue. It becomes clear that the premise for divorce as advanced by the New Testament scripture and text remains singularly adultery and nothing else.  Yet the text is clear ” Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery” (NKJV : Luke 16: 18). This text remains challenging for interpretation and if read as such leaves many scholars in a conundrum, for it fundamentally argues the marriage was meant for life with one person.

Yet such adultery does not explicitly demand in itself divorce but affords a reciprocal right to divorce for those who choose to make use of it. Equally it invokes certain rights and denials for those who are divorced, the same which has consistently remain contested area for many scholars. The Christian tradition for marriage,  it  must be understood  affords divorce in the event of adultery where the offending partner is proven guilty  but does not demand divorce as a must in the event of adultery. There are countless marriages that survived adultery.

To revert back to our political leadership, Apartheid’s last president FW De Klerk a Christian for some of us cannot claim that moral high ground defined in marriage, because he was exposed for adultery eventually divorced his first wife, as he had fallen in love with a friend’s spouse.  Clearly he would not be fit to lead if this now claimed morality of Calvinistic tradition was a prerequisite for SA presidency.

The icon Nelson R. Mandela held up as our moral beacon in reconciliation and sacrifice, also a Christian by his own admission ( Methodist Member) in matrimonial context fails the test too, at least for those who know, or if we read his history of those he married and divorced and the challenges of unfaithfulness that filters through on his part.

Former President Mbeki,  I am assuming  a Christian too, remains married to his wife of many years and do not fit this bill, if divorce is the standard, yet the rumour mills never stopped, and those who claim to know would point out  his philandering. Let us not forget that these claims were at some stage leveled by even Winnie Madikizela-Mandela against Mbeki when she accused him of womanising. Hence for some Mbeki though married to the same woman do not fit the bill to be the moral beacon in Christian matrimonial context.

The current deputy president of the ANC and SA  Kgalema Motlanthe, his faith expression for most of us an unknown, is a divorced man whose marital status remained a mystery for all in SA, even during his brief stint as president he was alone until he recently proved willing to be seen in public with his new partner.

For what it is worth  the  other hopeful possible candidate for Manguang, Tokyo Sexwale is also on his second marriage.

Needless to say  it is argued those who claim a right to prognosticate  and pontificate this Christian morality in presidential embrace in praxis proves rather  hypocritical for their very deeds militates against such arrogated right.
I have deliberately gone this route to make the case, to argue a  Calvinistic Christian morality for presidents of a constitutional democracy immanent in chastity, faithfulness,  and single for life marriages whilst an ideal remains a utopia in praxis and proves disingenuous as a demanded standard.

Church leaders in South Africa like anywhere  in the world  equally cannot all claim to have upheld this morality when some are into their second and third marriages, others are bi-sexual, some on the proverbial  download  sexually abusing girls and boys  whilst upholding a picture perfect facade of  a  claimed “faithful”  single partner celebration but when those who know of their sin are paid to be quiet.

Others have fathered children outside the confines of such wedlock and continue to abuse members of their flocks in hedonistic  sexual escapades. One can easily  argue the same of other Faith- leaders.

The reason for arguing this is to prove our comfortable  selective morality and its equal elasticity, when we seek to invoke it on political office when Christian Church leaders dismally fail to make the cut which is for them a non-negotiable.

Zuma, a one time divorcee like many others is a polygamist,  his traditions and culture affords him that. Yet the debates and snide on his polygamous relationships, have many shades.

I would be the first to concede if the President’s marriages cost us much more in monetary value  than what we can afford let us engage that sensibly and conclude in decision to  support one of his spouses as a standard.

This  in my opinion is perhaps where the debate should be located.  Let us revisit the presidential definition of benefits and augment such to accommodate a scenario that we as South Africans do not feel  financially done in by his matrimonial preferences, but to argue the abuse of women in such is to prove mendacious  and denigrating.

Also we cannot argue his polygamy to confuse the message and fight against HIV/AIDS. For the record no president of post apartheid making has so visibly proven astute in visionary leadership to show the way on the subject matter.

He appointed perhaps the most effective minister in health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, in post apartheid context.

His personal public tests and the progress made under his leadership to allow for earlier medication when the prescribed CD4 count for those infected was 200  before one may access treatment this administration lifted that to over 350. His leadership rendered the TAC and Zackie Achmat into our history if  their absence in media presence means anything, gone are the days when we heard Achmat starving or marching.

His leadership on HIV/ AIDS is  well celebrated internationally. The most recent statistics on the dreaded disease shows that the stigma is dissipating and the battle is being won in the mother- to- child transfer. Also the inroads made in the other age groups prove heartening.

We know we far from winning the battle yet we have long way since we were dubbed a  HIV/AIDS denialist state.

Those who argue Zuma can’t lead because of his polygamy which sets a bad example of women abuse and carelessness in sex cannot argue that sustainably nor can they factually corroborate that rendering such malicious and I’ll-intended.

If one wants to argue his claimed rape case as means to argue that he is not fit, we must ask what the courts found, if we believe in the judicial system we cannot argue as if there was no finding. Let the finding count which clearly declared him innocent of rape.

If one prefers  to use his indiscretion by raising a child, it could stand as irresponsible  for which he unequivocally deserves rebuke.

Yet the ANC who had a right to instigate disciplinary procedures against him, did not find it necessary to charge him with disciplinary  case.  He publicly admitted his wrong to the ANC and SA and apologized for this. We did not demand him to vacate office, for whatever reasons. Hence this cannot stand either.

Those who want Zuma, out simply cannot use this belatedly, backdoor criteria as tool to assess his presidency, it cannot stick because its argued in a vacuum, with no previous president as maximum symbol of such adherence of Christian matrimonial ethic.  I suggest they find legitimate reasons to judge his presidency because this invoking simply do not fly, cant be corroborated, and is sophistic in context.

Nor can his detractors argue his polygamous relationships confirms women abuse, for that is an assumption in the superlative. His detractors cannot argue that he is bad example when all presidents before him proved weak in the very area, whether they remained married, divorced or proved a philandering lifestyle and praxis.

Arguing for  a Christian matrimonial morality in SA presidency embrace, cannot be deliberately misunderstood in lop-sidedness, but must take full cognisance of the interpretation of marriage, divorce and re-marriage in New Testament interpretation, therefore an endorsement of marraige in New Testament embrace is an endorsement of the teachings of divorce and remarraige. History, the present nor our future affords us the right to prove selective as to what we prefer from the didache on marriage as understood in New Testament context.

Polygamy was never a challenge for the tribal groups in South Africa, nor for some Faiths, yet in democracy needs to be understood and reflected upon as a coalescing theme at times challenging reality which would need interpretation and reinterpretation all the time.

Let us ask what morality should inform the selection of presidents let us argue can we invoke  a unilateral Christian ethic of matrimonial definition and if so why?

It therefore remains a fallacy to attempt to invoke such and it is deserving of rejection with contempt.

Bishop Clyde N. Ramalaine

In His personal Capacity

Article appears courtesy : “Tradewinds are Blowing” – Political Analysis and Musings

Due October 2012


Has the ANCYL become irrelevant ?

–    Its relevance  cannot be in defence of a personality nor to demand who should be ANC president –

In recent months a question began to form in my mind as to the relevance of the ANCYL for this epoch. A question I thought I never had to entertain if the richness of its historical role was the maximum symbol of our consideration.

With the departure of its former leader, secretary general and spokesman, it has become difficult to understand, interpret or make sense of ANCYL, especially because all the ensuing statements appears to be centred on the personality of Julius Malema. What cannot be disputed more than 60 days after his expulsion is that the ANCYL leadership was a Malema leadership, in as much as it cannot untie itself from the rhetoric of his leading, the victim status immanent in him and the agenda he drove.

On close examination it has become easy to see, ANCYL leadership is a personality based leadership, for his absence is really his presence in ANCYL actions, when current leader Ronald Lamola or the new spokesman Magdalene Moonsamy opens their mouths it’s to save a Malema a loyalty espoused to a person, whom the NEC after deliberations specifically on him endorsed as expelled.

One must find the current tit for tat, rudderless, aimless and directionless pursuit of existing leadership as deploring if the history of the ANCYL is understood and engaged as our guiding light for analysis.

Perhaps one must give Malema and his cohort’s credit for having developed an ANCYL that is more than loyal to his personality and proves willing to defend him as the supreme cause for its existence. Any politician would pay for such loyalty.

Those who know will attest that the ANCYL was the bedrock of new and young cadre development of the ANC. It served as the proverbial chicken broiler to produce leaders that served the movement in different and distinct epochs of struggle definition. From its inception the youth league proved necessary, relevant and on point. It amongst other things produced leadership such as Mandela, Tambo and many celebrated ones.

It appears as if the Youth League’s leadership relevance is its defence of the defenceless, the now expelled and suspended. It appears the current leadership lacks a sense of purpose or being outside the now gone leadership.

Not only is an opaqueness of meaningful leadership experienced in the ANCYL, but one can’t help to see the wild messages and attacks by an expelled Malema as that which informs the ANCYL utterances, permeating through it official communications.

The originality of thought, the symbolism of young lion pride, has made way for a barrage of perpetual insults, personality cult worship and rhetoric of confused comprehension of ANC processes, constitution and electioneering methods. The abandonment of well entrenched lobbying, debate to persuade others as means of canvassing one’s mind or position an entrenched subculture in ANC history is pervasive in these young ones. Defiance without cause and reason has shaped and gripped the minds of those who are said to lead at this critical time. Not only is there an abandonment of the vestiges of what made the ANCYL a critical constituency, but a lacklustre attitude to prove honourable to the organisations ideals, values creeds and objectives  defines the canvas of ANCYL politics.

It appears proving oppositional without due cause in which a victim and villain mindset is perpetuated as the meridian of a bankrupt political astuteness is salient in the minds of those whom it is said leads the ANCYL today.

Irregular statements, unwarranted claims, insults, personal attacks, a sense of despotic behaviour constitute the true legacy of Malema in ANCYL context. The quagmire that the expelled former leader has led and left the ANCYL in has raised the question how relevant is the Youth League in this epoch? How meaningful can its existence be in this dispensation? What constitutes the axis of its mandate and what informs the fundamental purposes of such a league if it does not advance the cause of true liberation? What are we to deduce from its now perceived primary aim as that which is aimed at rewriting ANC history in an almost evanescent way? Why shall it exist if its mandate is misunderstood obfuscated to obliterate its mother body in all forums at any cost to prove them a force?

Is the ANCYL in its current setting relevant and if it is what is it relevant for? It cannot be relevant for political agendas of ambitious individuals be they in ANCYL or mother body setting. Its sole purpose can never be misconstrued to serve the interest of a few held immured by a belief that individuals are bigger than the movement. It cannot only exist to make and break those it claimed it made.

How relevant is the ANCYL when South Africa’s youth are unemployed, cannot attain a tertiary education or lack the opportunity to craft its own independent economic future? Lastly how relevant is the ANCYL in its current definition, speech, and visionary outlook to act as the vanguard of youth development as led by ANC policies when all it is prepared to discuss is an expelled leader,  suspended officials and who must be the next president of the ANC.

In this centenary year in which some invoke the Mandela morality of leadership on others forgetting themselves as also not free from the very claim of betrayal of such morality and legacy, we must ask does the current ANCYL leadership understand its mandate and reason for existence.

Can it firstly liberate itself from the proverbial Mary-Mary shackles of imprisonment of an expelled Malema mindset and find the landmarks of what this league stands for, in the absence of that it will prove irrelevant and taxing to say the least.

History will judge the ANCYL for proving irrelevant when its relevance is desperately needed, I hold such relevance has little if anything to do with who must serve as president for that is the mandate of the ANC branches and no one else can claim to be more supreme than these branches.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

Independent Commentator

This article appears courtesy of “Malema the by-Default face of Economic Redress”- Political Commentary and Analysis 2012

July 23, 2012

Why Phosa, the dark horse’s one legged ‘campaign’ for Mangaung won’t cut it!!

 – the Youth League as single divisible constituency is not enough for  a Mangaung, confidence –

The ANC conference of Mangaung organised for December 2012 is seen by some as an expected repeat of Polokwane, whilst others argue nothing will come of the much promised “Mangaung of Revenge”. In the up run to this elective conference where both ANC and SA political leadership is decided, I have taken it upon myself to look at the possible candidates for ANC presidency. In my first instalment of such assessment I dealt with Tokyo Sexwale, who perhaps is the most vocal and overt candidate judging by his media presence and utterances.

This article looks at Matthews Phosa, current serving Treasurer General of the ANC  and widely dubbed the dark horse for such position.

We will look at his campaign, his strategy, his utterances and his chances to make it to the summit of ANC presidency.

Phosa, the attorney by profession originally from what is called Mpumalanga, has consistently been around from the days of Mbeki’s election. When I argue around I am saying he was always in contention for wrong or right reasons. The former premier of Mpumalanga with back then a very close association of the ANCYL, BEE entrepreneur, poet, friendly to Afrikaner-Whites and in some way avuncular personality has played his role in the removal of Mbeki. He was duly rewarded to serve as  the Treasurer General of the ANC at Polokwane,  yet he purports an interesting but strange fellow.

We will attempt to look at Phosa’s personal campaign and what it communicates to argue why he should or would not make it.

1. To argue Phosa is on presidential campaigning pursuit can easily be shot down as bathroom analysis, because on the cuff it appears there is no visible campaigning on his part. This proves even more obdurate when you compare him with for example a Sexwale and Motlanthe. I hold those who argue Phosa is not campaigning or in the run fails to closely examine him historically and more recently in ANCYL trouble with its mother body.

2.   Phosa has perhaps become the most controversial Top 6 position holder of the ANC leadership in recent times. Controversial because it appears at most of the time when it concerns the Youth League, he proves less discerning and somewhat blind in his support for them. He also is always cited as representative of that which constitutes the opposite of what is defined as current ANC leadership, at least in the eyes of the Youth League. Phosa with a razor sharp mind, it must be expected will prove wise to analyse the various angles of the Youth League saga, yet it appears his support is blinded by something else.

3. Phosa appears held immured by a historic position of using ANCYL members to wage ones campaign.  Those who know will attest the role the ANCYL has played in the selection of ANC leadership in pre and post apartheid context. Such role played has wrongly allowed them to claim an entitlement of ‘kingmaker-status’. We need not seek far and wide to know that often when the Youth League leaders around 20007/2008  barked out their passionate hate for Mbeki in the up run to Polokwane, it was said these are echoing the sentiments of among others the likes of a Phosa, who consistently had shared a good relationship with the YL, and equally understood the role of the youth league in organisational elections.

4. Yet this blind support for the Youth League, as controversial as it may seem, is firstly not as selfless and caring as it may be projected, but stands in a historically powerful vortex of its own. I shall argue this support of the Youth League has a specific agenda on the part of Phosa. The reason for Phosa’s support of the Youth is truly in typical political sense self -centred and immanent in seeing this as his only true constituency to attempt his hand at higher office. I am trying to argue that Phosa lost his long standing grip on a very vital Mpumalanga Province. This province who second to Kwa Zulu Natal experienced the brunt of  the most vicious killings of political members was once ruled by Matthew Phosa. Today Phosa has no clear-cut easily defendable constituency to carry him further.  It becomes imperative for him to identify with the Youth League as a base, yet the youth league has a loyalty to more than one if not all contenders against the incumbent.

5.  Phosa it can be argued has proven to endorse the factionalist agenda in which the tension between mother body and its youth league constitutes the opposing factors and is exacerbated. To argue that is not to prove mendacious or  an ad-hominem contention. Phosa’s association with the Youth League even in spaces and places where it erred not reprimanding them but choosing to raise a proverbial battle axe stance for them, has given the us – and-them perpetuated by the Youth League a much needed senior member impetus. Particularly because at different times he preferred to blindly side with the Youth League. He also could not separate his passion for the youth league from the controversial Limpopo ANC leadership who is closely associated with the now expelled former ANCYL leader. If the Youth League can claim a support in the Top 6, such support is made self-evident in Phosa.

6.  Yet in defence of Phosa he  has seldom if at any time advanced himself as the answer,  unlike Sexwale who is  literally begging to be nominated as the preferred candidate,  he plays the traditional  internal game where he tests powers so as to determine what say and role he can have in a making others  rise or fall. He follows the standard lobbying and canvassing of ideas in organisational context for which the ANC is known and proven acceptable. He understands the context of the ANC electioneering processes and principles clearly and attempts to honour such.

7. Yet Phosa has shown himself an ambivalent character in speech, when he oft would in the last 2 years in particular speak at Youth League gatherings. His statements particularly in Limpopo on many occasions seldom build the ANC but proved to divide it more. One would expect that as Top 6 leader there ought to be a sense of responsibility to prove less divisive. Judging Phosa’s utterances at Limpopo confirms this subliminal message of defiance against the incumbent leadership and secretary general actions on the youth and the provincial leadership with the national government section 100 intervention. He it appears blurrs the ANC and Governmental issues at play in particular the Limpopo province.

8.  Phosa, it appears thrives on the division of power in the ANC as a means to exert his weight and control over others or in relation to others. This is not a bad strategy because where ones power in political and organisational context is supreme to others, space exists for abuse of such power.

9. His campaign if one may call it such is less informed by substance or critical consideration but an underlying sentiment and such is only immanent in youth dissatisfaction. When one postulates his campaign is less informed by substance but sentiment, it is because there is no fundamental issue yet raised by him that proves tangibly opposite to current ANC policy, programme in which the existing leader of the ANC can be said proves naked. His campaign therefore lacks a justified cause once it is stripped from the sentiment and the often misunderstood role of ANC president and SA president.

10. A Phosa candidacy in my assessment simply cannot count on the strong Labour or workers sector that also see Phosa  like Sexwale as a reflection of white capital, therefore a possible economic enemy. Phosa represents a group of BEE empowered political personalities that has become the meridian of wealth attaining, the same that the new economic redress debate condemns for its minuscule and lop-sided praxis.

11. Phosa cannot count on the SACP, who oft is regarded as a critical constituency not for its  numbers but for political thought and policy direction. It is common cause that under a Zuma leadership the ANC is perceived much more aligned to the SACP, who already has endorsed its candidate for another term. Phosa is almost never seen or invited to address its conferences, a possible indication that they have quarantined him a long time ago.

12. Phosa equal to Sexwale cannot count on the former Mbeki constituency in the ANC; these will remember his active role in the recall of what is oft referred to as the intellectual paragon of modern day ANC leadership. It is not difficult to argue this paragon status of Mbeki, if the endless articles and bemoaning of the death of intellectual greatness of leadership as communicated by Xolela Mangcu is used a base.  Yet that is a topic for another day.  Those who know will tell of the frosty relations Phosa has consistently shared with Mbeki. This relationship never healed despite the death of the late Mr. Fixit, Steve Tshwete who as police minister then was tasked to investigate Phosa, Ramaphosa and Sexwale as those fingered to seek the overthrow of Mbeki. This constituency will in my assessment easily find a home with the Motlanthe campaign who in some circles is perceived matured, less entrapped and a bridge-builder.

13. Phosa’s success in running ANC money affairs  whilst no corruption was found does not inspire much. Provinces remain responsible for their own management of ANC funds yet  under his national treasurership provinces such as Limpopo has virtually gone bankrupt in organisational  context. The ambivalence of the role of the ANC with the Chancellor House investment debacle and its Hitachi connection as a ghost is still simmering, for as recent as a few months ago Deputy President Motlanthe had to entertain that same question again in parliament.  Phosa it can be argued proved indifferent on the performance of provinces on their money matters and failed to visibly lead from the front in sanctioning or reprimanding those in error. A sense of visionary leadership is warranted in a society when corruption proves stubborn and endemic and is associated with ANC governance per se. It would have helped to have a treasurer general who leads the charge on assisting ANC leadership at all levels in their finances, not withholding the rightful rebuke when and where necessary

14. a. Phosa as Treasurer General initially stirred much controversy on the Chancellor House finances. It appeared the proverbial ‘new broom’ then was out to prove those who were there before as less sensitive to a clean administration. It sounded as if he was mooting for an official  probe. In the end nothing much came from this initial new broom sweeps. Perhaps with this move he alienated himself from many who understand how the ANC makes it money.

14. b. Phosa as Treasurer General lacked the wherewithal to address the challenges of the Province in calling those to book, instead he turned a blind eye, determined to focus rather on the YL and Mother Body semblance of factions and political squabbles than his mandated assignment.

15. Phosa was associated wrongly or rightly with the leak of information to expose a relationship of Motlanthe with a staffer.  The motives for such leak will always be questioned, notwithstanding the fact that no prove exists to claim it was Phosa. Though this constitute a shallow issue and peripheral  issue in content, it confirms a consistent theme that the man from Nelspruit remains a less trusted character in some quarters of ANC definition. One may only doubt if Motlanthe has buried that hatchet and would relent to either run with Phosa or trust him. Yet Motlanthe in my assessment will need every support he can get to mount a challenge against the incumbent, and perhaps knowing that may sway him to opt for discussion with Phosa, as the clock begins to tick for Mangaung.

16. Phosa   in my assessment represents the weakest of all possible 3 contenders ( Motlanthe, Phosa and Sexwale). Weak because he lacks an outright constituency, cannot count on his former provincial control, and is not alone in attempting to make the Youth League his constituency.   Weak also because he is not really campaigning for himself as nakedly. The aforementioned coupled with the fact of my claim that he remains a not well trusted politician in some key circles. Weak finally because he does not have the presence or stature to muster such attempt at high office.

It is common cause that the Youth League wants Motlanthe for president. Phosa at best could retain his current seat but going higher proves a   cul de-sac for this man from Mpumalanga. It would not make sense to offer him the chairmanship which really was created for Tambo, when Mandela assumed the role of president in the early 90’s.

17. It is fair to conclude that should the much made “Mangaung of Revenge ” never occur, Phosa will be one of the most senior ones who will suffer the most. Should Zuma secure his second term he may do enough to offload Phosa as Treasurer General, rendering him Phosa to an ordinary NEC membership.

In the end, I hold Matthews Phosa has not thus far overtly waged an open campaign for presidency in his own name, he has understood that to be un-ANC practice,  yet he has shown his hand as one who will do enough to cast doubt on the incumbent leadership perhaps more from sentiment than fact. Yet  I doubt anyone of the three other contenders  trust him to be in their corner, for the many incidents, actions statements Phosa engaged in thus far paints him as one that is loyal to none, maybe not even himself.

Perhaps Phosa is wise enough to know he will never be president for the reasons I cited and therefore holds if he could influence the campaigns of  others  he would have made his voice heard and achieved his overall goal.

Phosa, has made his money in South African context and may  in the end be happy with any Top 6 position as whoever comes to power decides to keep him close for control, out of fear for what such personality can do,  but I doubt if any of the other contenders and the current incumbent ever will outright trust him. Perhaps the dark horse as he is dubbed is not in it to win it for himself per se, but to cause enough confusion that others prove jittery and has to come to him for help, from where he can make his power count.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
Independent Commentator

This article appears courtesy of

” Tradewinds are blowing” –  Political commentary and analysis 2012
Sunday 22, 2012

If Madiba could speak to us today, in SA constituency

– Let us all remind ourselves and quit trying to lecture others from lofty dwellings –

This 94th celebration of Madiba warrants all of us to ask what possibly would his message be to all of us in South Africa. Realizing he is often used and misused by some against others, I thought what would this universal icon possibly say to us South Africans struggling with various shades of self-righteousness and victimhood claims?

Let Tata speak!

If by any means I am celebrated, if by any reason I am remembered, if for whatever cause I am held in high regard and serve as the by- default moral meridian for those who oft has quoted me, referred to me, heralded the values I espouse, the thought I solicit. I am humbled and have never asked for it, nor did I wish for it, yet I understand this less in a myopic self-serving personality iconic worship but in the tireless spirit of those who believe in the oneness of humanity.

At this my 94th, if I may advance an opinion to you who claim to be my children, fellow South Africans, those who lead, and those who struggle. I thought I craft a tiny thought for a few constituencies making up the South African society.


Those in the confines of South Africa, who have made this home a place to prosper and abide.  Know this being human is the highest description anyone may claim, for it was afforded in an equality of creation.  One is not human till one has risen above self, group or race mellifluous construct and confines. We are first human and since that holds, it must be supreme and guide us when we are falsely entrapped by an identity confined to sexuality, religion, colour, tribe, group or race. It is from this conviction of a humanity of equality that we must love, let live and serve. This humanity is a privileged one and demands of all of us to serve and the obligation to serve is not in self interest but in common benefit often less for self but for others who are powerless gripped by whatever holds them down.
You are not black,  Xhosa, white, elite, intellectual, male, worker or boss you are firstly HUMAN.


Regardless to how much you have suffered, you will remain victims of such suffering if you in political power practice the same to others. You cannot afford an arrogance of identity wrought in pain and confined in entitlement. The richness of such tribal definition lays in this that it creates a platform to value others. Upon your shoulders the task is to lead for now, it may not be for always hence be humble in your afforded power. I have reminded you and all that I have fought against white domination I am prepared to fight against black domination.


You cannot claim you are excluded if you have not claimed your right of equal humanity. Do not allow the cheap definitions of apartheid nor the new forms of veiled racism practiced by those who struggled with you define your future rise above a victim mindset and claim your place and space. You are stronger than what you think, more needed then what some want to make out. You have led the first struggles, it’s to you this land belongs demand it, fight for it and claim it in humanity. We share this rich history that former president Mbeki, so eloquently captured in his soliloquy of  our common Africanness.


May you not forget that when we talk of our history it’s not to insult you, nor to keep a barrel to your head, but to keep all including you conscious that there was a an ungodly system called apartheid, which benefitted you grossly and immensely, you supported it. Quit acting as if you are a special race wanting reassurances at every turn. The shame of an Auswich is forever etched and kept in our global memory. So apartheid’s shame and eternal scars we must talk of and equally deplore.  You cannot claim a victimhood you cannot claim a fear, when you ruled by fear and dehumanized others- thus far you have contributed little to national cohesion, you are not more equal than others.

The reconciliation for which I among others are accredited for was not meant as a unique personal initiative for you as a group, but it was and remains for all of us in equality to work for and not just benefit from. Your role is necessary and your place in South Africa remains secured but not one from an afforded unequal space.


You as a tiny group have exerted yourself; you have known how to position yourself at different spaces and places in our chequered history.  You have played a significant role. Yet it must be admitted, you perhaps have as group benefitted the most and the  transformation has worked  for you, the benefits of post- apartheid has blessed you as the per capita income for groups show.   I shall remind you of the Scriptural age old saying “to much has been given much is required“; you have a role to play to help others to equally benefit as you have benefitted.


I am always going to be associated with this Movement,   I have once been asked,  what will happen when I die,  I responded  I shall ask for my  ANC membership in the hereafter at heavens pearly gates. Regardless to how some wanted to separate me from you for their own cheap reasons. I am a loyal member and remain such I was privileged to serve in leadership. Lead this movement, lead the people desists factional self-centred interest leadership. It remains a privilege to serve. Restore the discipline, restore the respect, and restore the honour. Lead this nation in dignity. Save this movement and South Africa whilst you can.  You owe it to yourself to record  a history which you will be proud of  if future generations consider your work. It is not too late, deliver good leadership.


You are only as strong as your delivering of the promises we consistently made.  You are judged on how you have delivered to those who have placed you in such position. Deliver schooling to SA’s children; deliver primary health care in respect of humanity. It must be an insult that children are not in schools; it must be an indictment if books are not delivered before the academic year starts. It must be and indictment that civil society must charge our government in a court of law to compel the delivery of that which the freedom charter and constitution demands.

It is never easy to lead, yet the  obligation of  governing  cannot be marred by corruption, which is not new in this dispensation but also was perhaps in my era as leader prevalent, yet as government you must spare no effort to stem it expose it regardless to who or where it may emanate from.


When we agreed on BEE it was not to empower a few, it was deliberate to ensure that more benefit from the economy. It was not intended to be a special group of people’s inalienable right. You have been benefactors of the new dispensation, yet you have often acted as if this was your right. It remains a shame that BEE empowered ones though wealthy prove stingy, (you know I am a boxing fan, so my example will come from there ) when Baby Jake Matlala had health problems it was ‘white’ counterparts who came to his aid, this is not unique – it cannot be defended that BEE blessed ones, prove this callous, cold and it is said is stingy. You are blessed to amass yet such amassing is not your mandate, empowering others is your obligation for when the challenge of youth is not resolved they will turn to you not as some ‘Malume’ but as an economic enemy.

Lead in empowering others. You owe your wealth to the black masses who is yet to find a job, own a RDP house and have their dignity restored. I am reminded of the words as recorded in biblical pericope “it is more blessed to give then to receive”.


If you claim a wealth it was on the backs of the millions of South Africa who afforded you the opportunity to attain and control the economic power in South Africa. You have given, yet you owe South Africa a contribution that will never stop. The gold and deposits extracted from the communities warrants that you personally get involved to repay those very communities who still finds themselves  in abject poverty, it must be an indictment to have amassed so much and the communities that made you this wealthy are still gripped in such economic disparity. You will never have given enough.


Every democracy needs opposing voices and views that fulfil the role of keeping government accountable. Yet being oppositional for opposition sake is fruitless. Do not be overtaken to prove government as dysfunctional when you have in selfishness misunderstood your role. Be humble to admit it is easier to critique and judge and it would have been equally difficult for you had you been in power.  Continue to be a voice but do not misread you role and reduce it to a cheap politicking, South Africa and it’s multiplicity of challenges warrants a careful and conscious assessment of your role which remains an important role that Government should and can learn from.


The church has always been a critical component of the struggle; it will always have an imperative role to fulfil. Yet church dictates an implicit morality of consciousness in which selflessness is the guiding principle and dictum. Leaders of faith cannot be consumed by a lust for money, power and greed in which a new morality is crafted and advocated of celebrity opulence as the ultimate aim. You must help us again to teach and preach a selflessness, regardless to how difficult it may appear, you  must again teach respect and the values of Ubuntu, the church must again search the landmarks of its faith from where the ancient discipline of humanity is fostered.

The need and privilege to organise the workers and labour is a critical and unique responsibility of the struggle for equality. Yet such need stands not in its own solitude, but is directly linked to a responsibility to admit your conjoined role of stifling our forward moving. You cannot advocate a morality of consciousness if you cannot admit that among others SADTU notwithstanding its great role has often proven irresponsible and robbed our children from the opportunity of learning.


Your role is a much needed one; do not allow yourself to be calibrated to an environment of aloofness when the African child still can’t read calculus in Venda. Your job is not  just to critique but to get your hands dirty. You have a nation to build and your role is necessary. Lead academically, lead intellectually lead responsibly, lead objectively. Learn from the Afrikaner intellectuals who have owned and claimed the space of the academic world and made Afrikaans a forever language when they can teach in mother tongue any subject matter at even tertiary level. Rise above theory realise the implementation in praxis. Learn from this society and formulate from such bedrock.


You are born in a freedom of political definition yet you are not free from the challenges of poverty, inequality and opportunities. The challenges you face are real and must never be scoffed at. Yet you must take your freedom serious, take you education serious, take your health serious, if you die before your time you would have robbed this nation the next generation of leaders across all spheres.  I believe in you and have all confidence that your future is bright but it is never given, it is always demanded. If I may twig the famous words of a the Afrikaner Poet Ingrid Jonker,  ‘the child is not dead, but he/she lives in you”.


Yes I will be the first to admit we have failed you, we have made promises because we did not understand. We firstly owe you an unequivocal apology. Yet now that we know we must say to you keep mobilising and fight for your rights to the basics, being conscious that on your shoulders the responsibilities lay to free yourself from the cudgels of poverty, Government has a role, but you have a role and no man has a future until he/she takes it into his own hands. Take your freedom from poverty in your own hands and do what you can to help yourself. The eradication of poverty and inequality must remain our collective obligation though we know we will never attain in fulness this utopia, it must not stop us to work on it tirelessly.


You have always and continue to fulfill a role, yours is to inform us of what is happening, yet your role is not standing alone in such, but finds meaning in your joint responsibility to find your niche to help build a society in which the common good of a humanity of a South African identity resonates on your platforms.  It is yours to share with us the good the bad and the ugly, so as to constantly remind us who we are, what we must not become and why we should not go down that route.  You like all sectors of society must embrace your responsibility to work for a better South Africa, you will do us collectively a disservice if your abdicate such critical role to be calibrated to an singular dimension inspired by an inhumane sensationalism in which selling your product is all that matter.


You were born into a family that carry this last name, I have been humbled by the many in our globe who have welcomed and celebrated the role I was privileged to play. I was blessed to be the son of my parents. Yet such blessing has not automatically entitled me to any claims. The Mandela name is your right and privilege, the Mandela name is also equally your burden, for which I apologise, yet this name cannot hold an inalienable entitled right of you, in aloofness.

If this name is known, it must be understood in humility as one of many names, and cannot for wrong reasons be elevated to a status that again creates and feeds an aristocracy and proletariat mindset. The ANC has privileged me to lead when I could, I have brought you into this, yet it is our collective duty to desist the culture of entitlement, for we are blessed in many ways, the same many in this great country has not in the least yet shared.

Let us respect the ANC and our fellow South African citizens from a point of humility and quit the afforded grandstanding when we feel aggrieved. We are not the only family who suffered, was abused, was torn apart and made in many cases dysfunctional. My plea is that we walk in humility and respect the privilege us afforded.  The ANC owes us as family nothing it does not owe every family who suffered and associated with freedoms cause.


In conclusion, contrary to popular belief,  I remain very optimistic about our collective future. I have unswerving faith in a humanity that will rise above all odds to produce what this nation needs when it needs it most. I  have  faith in all you fellow South Africans who have made the sacrifices for which oft people like me are celebrated, perhaps wrongly. I have understood your selflessness to afford others like me to serve and at time blush in humility.

I trust you allowed me to speak though I had said I won’t talk again because I am fully convinced you all are capable to lead this nation forward and let me and all others who have become frail in old age be afforded opportunity to rest.

I have chosen to speak to you only because you claim I inspire you, you claim I am your father; you claim my values notwithstanding my many personal shortcomings have consistently been the source of your inspiration. I am no saint, I am no icon, and I am a servant of time and the people I was afforded to meet since I arrived in this world.

If you claim I inspired you  kindly receive these words in humility and quit blaming others for not being like me, for I am not perfect nor without fault but was privileged to serve, if God could afford me a chance to serve notwithstanding my many mistakes, wrong decisions, stubbornness at times selfishness and many other things I am guilty of He equally can give you a chance to serve. Mine is gone, yours is now……

I thank you.

(Mandela not in his own words)

Why Tokyo Sexwale’s individual campaign for High Office will fail !!

– He really has no appetite to lead the ANC, but wants to run the Country-

This year is an elective conference year for the ANC, and we are building towards the much talked about Mangaung where the leadership of the ANC and to a large extend South Africa will be elected. In the uprun to that we shall attempt to assess the contenders for the post of ANC Presidency one by one arguing why they will or will not make it.

The true nomination in official context is not open yet we are told it will only open in September. Yet anyone who is fooled to think there is no lobbying and campaigning taking place fails to see the signs of the times.

Amidst this invisible and at times visible contestation of personalities, candidates or potential hopefuls are showing their hands in different and distinct ways. My focus for this article is Tokyo Sexwale. Tokyo Sexwale NEC member, former Robben Islander, Gauteng Premier and BEE entrepreneur, and now serving Housing Minister have raised his hand for unseating the current incumbent. There is absolutely nothing wrong for any ANC member to raise their hand that is not the debate.  There is also nothing wrong for people to be asked to stand because that is part of the democratic processes in ANC electioneering.  However I shall argue how Sexwale has chosen to do this, his methodology his message and strategy sets him up for failure, notwithstanding anything that may count in his favour.

I shall attempt to dissect this to advance his campaign will end in defeat.

1. The first challenge with Tokyo’s campaign is that it is aimed and run based on a subliminal message of media sentiment against the incumbent. It is as if Sexwale believes that a dislike of Zuma, as SA president is a dislike of Zuma as ANC president.  It is right here where he commits a tactical blunder. Anyone who wants to win the S A presidency must first win the ANC confidence

2. Sexwale it is perceived runs an American election campaign for country presidential office in a totally different political system.

3. Sexwale fails to appreciate that he needs to win the centre of the ANC as his constituency to have his dream realized. There is nothing wrong with ambition which he has in the superlative but you must persuade the centre which would propel one to the Tuynhuis view.

4. Sexwale misreads how leaders in the ANC are elected. ANC leaders are all ambitious like any political organisation yet there is an unwritten code or an expectation yet to never show interest but to act in humility emulating the will of the movement is bigger than one. This expectation is endemically part of the selfless – culture of the ANC. Anyone who does not show respect for it is perceived as a careerist which no true ANC member wants to be called. Call this expectation of humility a fallacy or not, it is “culture” in the ANC and anything else is found foreign and cannot help ones campaign.

5. Sexwale’s campaign lacks substance or a cause; any campaign must show an alternative to the current. The problem is the ANC decides on policy as collective and its political direction is not unilaterally dictated or decided by any individual. This collective decision in policy formulation and direction can be critiqued as not to be mistakenly associated to any elected individual rendering it difficult for the person to be judged for it.

What collective decision making in ANC context require from any hopeful ANC leader is to implement and deliver that which the conference had resolved on. This minimizes the elected official to do his own thing but to comply with what he was endowed with.  This effectively means if a president of the ANC ensures the delivery of the resolutions of ANC Conference he would stay in power unless something really different is at work. Hence Sexwale must first understand this not remotely but intrinsically.

6. Sexwale’s campaign besides being a sentimental one is erroneously informed by a historic Polokwane scenario where some felt he was an option or the third way out in an anticipated showdown of force between Mbeki and Zuma.

Those who argued he should make himself available read the situation of the time, but lacked foresight that both Zuma and Mbeki unlike Sexwale had a history of ANC national executive leadership serving and seniority. The prevailing circumstances then and now differs starkly, the circumstances are totally different and the issues at play also different. To superimpose that or read that as evidence for launching ones personal campaign in 2012, is short-sighted and less informed by proper and objective analysis.

7. Sexwale has decided that he can go it alone, when most people  talk of elections in the ANC they engage in what is called “snapshot analysis” with Polokwane as the maximum symbol. Polokwane as I already noted was a unique moment in the ANC which cannot be used as the standard of future elections in the organisation. To attempt to reignite the Zuma march to power as a standard, one  must firstly understand the elongated emotional campaign he ran, the victim mindset he sold on sentiment and the “tremendous hurt” many had claimed Mbeki executed.

This “hurt” or campaign of the wounded ones had many groups in various key constituencies like the workers, tripartite alliances formations the women, the youth, many individuals who were sidelined and those who simply got tired of Mbeki who already had been running the country from half of a Mandela period and was late in his second term seen as aloof.  Zuma came to power by a cohort of constituencies on the pretext of woundedness and that was not Zuma alone.  Going into Mangaung alone is not wise nor is it possible.

8. Sexwale misreads the importance and role of the inner machinery of the centrality of the office of the secretary general to secure ones election. This may sound like factional endorsement yet it has less to do with that. The office of the SG serving as a member of the top 6 and the real CEO of the Organisation is critical for the vetting of branches, the unification of organisation, the synapses of communication, the system of information and instrumental for relations.  Remember the removal of an incumbent reflects on the SG in fact on the entire top 6 if the standard is implementation of policy resolutions.

The incumbent is therefore helped if the relationship between the president and secretary general is solid. Judging the SACP conference, which until this week the ANC – SG headed as chairperson,   Zuma has received his endorsement.  It doesn’t take rocket science to argue that Zuma has managed to succeed to keep his secretary general close to him, a clear plus for him as we move to Mangaung.

9. Sexwale’s youth association could have proven a major plus, clearly a strategy he attempted, but found that he is not alone who can claim an ANCYL endorsement. The Youth League who has played a role in electing presidents, suffered serious blows with the expelling of its leader, and the suspension of its secretary general and spokesperson. Not only that the Youth league in recent times has shown inconsistencies of oneness, whilst it lost its claimed kingmaker status.  Finally the youth league lost its campaign when the policy conference, adopted the economic transformation as a priority and second phase flagship. To hinge ones hopes on the current youth league that at conference constitute a percent of voting block is not wise, because they have recently been brought into order and line with the ANC.

10. Sexwale shows signs of overt opposition to the incumbent, this is another element that separates his campaign from that of others or even historic if we may use again the Polokwane experience as standard. It is wiser to let others attack your opponent and you ride on the benefit of that, Zuma did this he had people who rightly or wrongly went at Mbeki; he very seldom showed his opposition publicly.  In fact Chikane’s book talks about how the then secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe and him tried to convene meetings with Mbeki and Zuma to help heal what was perceived as a grave gap in their relations. Their work was made difficult because both men never admitted to any personal agendas citing their long history of working together and claimed a friendship that needs no intervention or arbitration. This is another leaf a Sexwale can take from Zuma.  Sexwale may never have said – Zuma must go in these recorded words – but with his leadership statements, etc he has become the by-default face of the ABZ (All But Zuma) campaign. He is the most vocal senior leader who has shown his call for leadership change. Motlanthe has sought to go at influencing policy (his comments on Second Transition) to show his approach.

11.  Sexwale misinterprets the figurative recall sign of some as a call that will work for him. Those who make such call often associate it with a Kgalema Motlanthe candidacy that follows a new history of deputy president becoming president notion. Sexwale would do well to be seen to be supporting a Motlanthe campaign in selflessness and hope to be a benefactor as a member of the Motlanthe list.  In contradiction, what he is currently doing is to show Motlanthe perhaps the strongest candidate as weak, shell-schocked and not the man to unseat Zuma.

12. Sexwale cannot count on the former – Mbeki constituency in the ANC. The former Mbeki, constituency  who prides themselves as the intellectual heart of the movement never will embrace Zuma and will easier throw their weight behind Motlanthe who is perceived as moderate, astute, a bridge-builder and a voice of reason. Sexwale cannot claim that constituency not even if they were really angry with Zuma.

13. Sexwale’s campaign if Polokwane is the yardstick needs a victim – villain scenario. At Polokwane you could not claim Mbeki did not implement ANC  adopted policies hence other matters such as the seemed attack vilification and claimed State orchestrated campaign against Zuma was the issue. There was a victim and villain scenario which does not exist now. There was a personification of this pain in Zuma which does not exist now.

14. Sexwale cannot count on the workers as a constituency to support him, be it at sentimental or factual level; he remains a BEE entrepreneur and benefactor who became exceptionally wealthy. The rethink of the very BEE policy in which in my assessment only a  100 families of South Africa benefitted, is generally rejected by the workers and Sexwale represents the defence of white capital. He is in the crossfire of the workers challenge for a living wage. People in the cross-fire are often victims of stray bullets.

15.  Sexwale as Housing Minister failed to inspire meaningful change in the second most crucial ministry after Education. Anyone who understands the complexities of housing delivery knows the desperate need for visionary leadership to deliver on the ever increasing housing and now believed insurmountable shortage South Africa needs.  Sexwale except for proving attacking on his predecessor (Lindiwe Sisulu) and charging a few corrupt officials has done virtually nothing on the challenge of housing.

He had a great chance as extended by Zuma to build a success story which may validate his claim to fame, or maybe Zuma was clever to set him up by assigning him to the graveyard of ministers. He lacks the success story of housing and is remembered as the former Sowetan who now in wealth chose to spent a night in Diepsloot to feel the pain of what the poor experience. That is what a Jesse Jackson from America would do, as a means to win votes. Not from one whom was breastfed and raised in Soweto.  He missed an opportunity to make a success at housing. His tenure as Gauteng Premier did not inspire much individual visionary leadership to warrant an argument that when he is elected at Mangaung things will change.

16. Lastly, Sexwale cannot count on the influential SACP ideological and rock solid leadership support. The SACP is a small but very significant constituency, because it has historically influenced ANC thinking and in recent years more under Zuma has pretty much shaped policy articulation. Sexwale cannot claim this constituency and may never be able to persuade them against Zuma.

In the end Sexwale with a great smile, half baritone voice, matured sexy looks (according to some women), the ex Robben-islander ( who shared a Prison with Mandela), friend of the iconic Chris Hani, former Gauteng Premier and great salesman lacks a constituency, cause and depth of ANC understanding and no amount of travelling to the Eastern Cape as hopeful will help. He needs to understand the ANC better and quit an attempt at going it alone campaign for the interest of organisation.  Sexwale is ahead of our election time, hopefully 20 years from now we will vote for individuals but not now. It is argued, Tokyo  Sexwale shot to  stardom at the death of the late Chris Hani, he is remembered as the one who  cried himself into a presence of significance, I am afraid becoming the ANC president will need more than a few tears.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

Independent Commentator

 This article appears courtesy “Tradewinds are Blowing” Political Commentary  2012

July 15, 2012

Is there a Crises in Black Intellectual Praxis in Post Apartheid?

Is there a Crisis in Black Intellectual Praxis in Post Apartheid Context – The Crises of the Black SA Intellectual?

It is my contention that the most misplaced group of people in a post-apartheid context is necessarily those who constitute by design or default what I shall call Native Intellectuals.  Black Intellectualism as a researched topic is not a new concept; the challenge of Intellectualism is the proximity of its nuanced historic affinity to the concept and subject of elitism.

Such challenge appears to hold for the African Intellectual, finds himself, no different to his American counterpart in a quandary, where his intellectual prowess is often a measured one in relation to and concomitant to what the prism of white intellectualism seems to portend.

Today we know Intellectualism manifests in paradigms of organic intellectuals and academic intellectuals. To make matters even more interesting there are those who talk of the public intellectual. I am not going to attempt to claim, I know the difference, for I think even those who advance this distinction have yet to define the term intellectual.

To understand the challenge I am chartering I shall use two significant figures in Black American History. These are respectively Martin Luther King Jr, and Malcolm X.

The upbringing of these two, their economic status and family lives, their faith persuasions determined the picture we have of them in eternal grasp. James Cone, in his Book on these two giants, “Martin & Malcolm the Dream and the Nightmare”, shows us how it made sense for King to dream of a day when all men will be equal, a day when children of former slaves and slave owners will sit together in the circle of brotherhood.

Yet X, could not see such dream for X believed until America accepted the  equality of  humanity of all races in which the Anglo-Saxon mind afforded others what it afforded himself, there could not be a dream but only a nightmare.

To understand King and X we must ask who was King and who was X. King being raised  in a middle class family with access to a good education even in a time of oppression, him being the son of a Baptist preacher, when preachers in black context were a venerated group of people associated with the educated. King’s dream therefore was to argue for an acceptance into an established white world.

Juxtapose this with X’s, upbringing him being robbed as a son from his father when he got brutally killed, the unstable almost dysfunctional upbringing of the young Malcolm Little, in which the teacher told him he will never amount to anything. King clearly was crafted to ascend when X was given no chance – hence the premise for a dream vs. a nightmare.

These left indelible prints on the black history of the USA for a particular epoch.  King represented the integrationist notion and X the nationalist notion. King could argue for an acceptance into such society for there was little that separated King from John Wilson who was white, accept that he could not sit on the swing benches of the parks, which were marked for whites only.

X was dealing with the fact that America rejected his right of existence such because he is black.  These two stood with an elongated and celebrated history manifested in Integrationist and Nationalistic Ideology of intellectual construct, each making their own contribution, each celebrated by their own constituencies. King went on to become a Nobel Peace laureate swayed by the Ghandian Philosophy of non – violence.

X mostly remembered for his vitriolic speeches in which he castigated whites pulling no punches on supporting the typical violence of a Nat Turner (the slave who killed more than sixty whites and executed in the early 20th Century).

Yet what cannot be contested these were both intellectuals, both with a perspective of an America, both with a vision of an America, both talked about black people, both understood the experience of black though such came coloured by their personal class situations. Both conversed on the journey of being black in the USA, yet such conversations had distinct different paths but the same vision. 

I am saying this to postulate, is intellectualism approximate to elitism, confirming an emphasis on class, and therefore can intellectualism not find meaning devoid of such class mellifluous confinement?

Is this therefore not the crises of the Native Intellectual that even though we in South Africa are in transformative developmental state the reality is the Native Intellectual has either absconded into the hidden world of theory or calibrated himself to a class defined liberalist notion? Such calibrated position where that which is black, is conspicuously questionable defined in government, business, and political or civil society context.

These necessarily miss the opportunity of making a connection between our collective history exemplified in present and future.  I shall argue the Native Intellectual thinks a certain way of Black People, the Black experience, the Black future and the Black relations with others. It is my assertion that the Native intellectual has reinterpreted his personal black experience in an evanescent manner.

The Native intellectual in South African context is almost compelled to adopt a liberalist notion in praxis for such proves sanguine with true astuteness defined in intellectualism. The most radical of Black intellectuals have mellowed and integrated to the extent that it must be assumed, that being radical is not astute even uncouth.

The question is who determined or what informs the meridian of such accepted notion?  Is the liberal notion as indicative of astuteness not the replacement of the liberation mandate?  I shall ask again, what is the role of the Native intellectual in the distinguishing epoch we find ourselves. Can the Native Intellectual take of the proverbial singing diva ‘Mary Mary’ shackles of elitism in which his soul seems cast for life?

Can the liberalist ethos make way for the exacted liberation mandate to truly free the minds of those who had not been as privileged.  I ask these tough questions of all of us defined across the spectrum as organic intellectuals, public intellectual and academic intellectuals, even though we have not yet defined the meaning of such.

For today in South Africa the intellectuals are quiet, if they talk it’s from the vestiges of liberalist enclave, necessarily proving attacking our democratic narrative and discourse the  native Intellectual seems to have lost his voice, unless such voice is usurped to speak in congruence with those who advance the enslavement of a people that cries to be free. Why has it become necessary to castigate, to speak down from a calibrated and almost mendacious vantage point?

It appears the prism of the Native Intellectual’s thoughts imprisoned by the need to prove the opposite of that which is Post Apartheid. Regardless at what price.

The Native intellectual proves less objective in his critique and analysis of the road we had traversed, in congruence with the individualism that informs western civilisation the native intellectual has lost the moral compass defined in communality. The Native Intellectual analyse from the bedrock of a liberalist-vested contention.

The Native intellectual fails to participate in the evolutionary process of the collective ideal of Freedom as a lived experienced less than a theorised one. He is straight jacketed into the conjoined denigrated role of affirming the construct of paradigms that he had no say in design. It is almost as if one picks up a sense of truculence in the silence of the Native intellectual.

The Native intellectual derives meaning from being the opposite in what we know our history embraced and defined as Ubuntu, the Native intellectual is endangered specie, and such endangerment is from within, which despite his success proves enslaved by not drawing a distinction between individualism and an independent mind.

I know my assertion as stated in this prologue of thinking, which I have no idea where it will end, accept for the desired hope to hear more intellectuals share with us their vision of this great nation. If we can hear them speak for their silence is audible and proves discomforting for they belong to this unfolding democratic narrative where the liberalist notion has hijacked the towers of reason as necessarily that which is the opposite of what we have been painstakingly building in this young democracy.

Again I shall ask what is the role of the Native Intellectual in our emerging democratic context, be such organic, public or academic.

Are we done in as a developing nation because no one wants to admit the CRISES OF THE NATIVE INTELLECTUAL, the same we desperately need to make a meaningful contribution?

Those who will see necessarily this as a simplistic cry for what they will call blank cheque Regime support – even suck up, in which we speak on behalf of the ruling party and defend such to the hilt, would have utterly missed my contention and necessarily dilute our debate. For the objective is to let the native intellectual speak, to let the Native intellectual engage, and critique  – but such must be cognisant of the greater good we seek to attain as collective. The challenge of the Native intellectual is unlike his Afrikaner counterpart, who has been able to write textbooks on every subject matter, that spans the panapleas of complex disciplines the black child, is yet to have calculus in Venda. The black child is yet to study geography in IsiXhosa.

Whilst there will be those who will use my latter stated examples as an indictment against the Native intellectual in contempt even as  blind-sided contention, the reality is the black child is robbed of experiencing subject matter in his mother tongue where it matters most, yet the native intellectual is alive but even proves silent there to.

This critique stands in the same tradition of a Harold Cruse, James Baldwin, and WD Wright where such argue the crises of the Negro Intellectual and Black Intellectual respectively.

According to Wright “Cruse was critical of Black intellectual for being integrationists and not nationalists, he said this made them susceptible as well as submissive to the thought of white intellectuals, especially Jewish intellectuals” Wright (2007:3a)

One is not pretending yet to write a manifesto or sequel or a declaration on the factuality of such contention of assimilation to integrationist thinking on the part of the Native Intellectual in Post Apartheid context.

However, I shall admit that I appreciate the axis of Cruse’s contention to have a salient point the same, which may direct our problem, which is becoming what I choose to call the Crises of the South African Native Intellectual.

Yet I shall ask can we journey towards this desired outcome of balanced participation in this democratic process of nation building by firstly admitting the crisis in Native Intellectual role in post apartheid context. Let us review, argue, investigate and pronounce what should constitute the role of such native Intellectual for in the absence of such, we shall remain usurped to prove congruent with those who want to measure our astuteness against the meridian of elitism necessarily devoid of the masses and negating the truth that the masses are THINKING. Perhaps the only presence of the Native Intellectual in the public discourse is his absence.

Courtesy of Published “Through the Prism of My Soul – An anthology of Political Commentary in Post Apartheid Context –  Clyde N.S. Ramalaine (Author )

Friday, July 29, 2011 at 12:25am

Is there not a danger in giving Chapter 9 institutions a political-personality face!

– Free the public protector from a political office  image in which the public has varied definitions-

The Public Protector who during  2011, was crowned along with the former ANCYL leader Julius Malema as newsmakers of the year has in recent months been the falling star. It appears both  newsmakers of 2011, owe extensive  mileage to the “fourth estate” who invested in them.

Advocate Thuli  Madonsela the third public protector after Selby Baqwa and later Lawrence Mushwana who both remained out of the limelight and at times invisible  of public sphere clearly took on her job with a different verve and energy at least if the media attention attest in truth. She proves visible letting no opportunity slip by to brief the “public” on many instances. This led to her quickly attained a role of saviour of SA.

 Social media sites like Facebook propelled by  a COPE affinity even had a group called “Hands of the Public Protector”,  this was borne from the claimed view that she was under threat.

Adv. Madonsela as an independent mind and clearly a media embraced personality had crafted a presence for herself and her office as the defender of the public against the government per se. Hence ‘clever’ opposition politicians would use that as a means to prove her independence.

I warned amidst much condemnation at that juncture against the idea of creating a political image of a  chapter 9 institution. My warning emanated from the duality that opposition parties was at pains in an almost blackmail fashion to have her as independent from leading party influence and control but equally wanted her as their spokesman against the ANC led government often for cheap political reasons and motivation.

Madonsela as an official one could be forgiven for being cynical enjoyed every minute of the attention, the spotlight the flashing cameras and at some  stage she almost had the popularity of an elected politician. It was to her that opposition parties wrote requesting investigations for  impasses in my view on political issues explained in potential corruption.

She hogged the media headlines as case after case she took on particularly showing an appetite to stem corruption.  Thuli took on these sensational in public embrace cases notwithstanding questions and admissions on capacity challenges  and internal rumblings  of claims and counter claims in her own unit.

What was interesting is that her acceptance of cases let us say “high profile cases” came almost always inspired or at the request of the DA. One is not sure how many requests Madonsela’s office is receiving yet it seems the DA has a permanent pigeon hole with her office address as recipient.

The media celebrated our Public Protector as independent and a means to stymie ANC led government initiatives in asking questions from issued tenders to politically motivated speculated views dressed in claims of corruption.

Thuli did not shy away from accepting these cases mixed with a sense of personal vindication, for it would prove she is no lackey of government as she endeared herself to those who claim government endemically corrupt.

Madonsela’s reports be they interim or final reports at times proves conflicting, too much made off and even accused of lacking in substance.

 If we look at her preliminary investigations on Malema and the claimed Limpopo government tender irregularities, she found that no evidence of corruption existed yet the paperwork of the affected municipalities to corroborate the work delivered was not up to standard or in line with required PFMA requirements.  Needless to say her findings did not conclusively conclude on the claimed corruption at least for some. Hence her report became the subject of much debate.

It is to Thuli that others take their claim of innocence such as the Deputy President Motlanthe in asking for an investigation to clear his partner’s and his name in the publicised Iran military parts for sale claims.  It is to Thuli that the Minister of Human Settlements Sexwale writes to have his name cleared of political in-fights of the ANC.  

Perhaps her biggest case was that of the Public Works and Police office lease scandal. Big for the money involved literally over a R1.2bn and also big because it set the tone for the establishment of a Presidential Commission that ultimately found against the flamboyant and avuncular General Cele. In a sense if her work is celebrated it is because she played a role in removing Cele seen by some as a major  political victory. Those who call for the head of all others but themselves.

All was well until Thuli decided to investigate the Hunt Lascaris TWBA tender appointment for the DA – Led Western Cape Provincial government. Feeling the heat of claims that she is biased and being used by opposition parties as a means to an end, she took on this case.

Her  interim report found  traces of undue influence, an unequal representation of DA exemplified in more than two members on the panel that adjudicated  and  possible  maladministration as it relates to value for money. Needless to say this interim report was rejected by the DA leader as shallow and blatantly deceiving. Zille came to rude realisation that  it was easier to say tsa vat hom! than to be the subject of investigation.  The celebrated work of the Public protector because of this one case became shoddy workmanship.

Helen  Zille the former journalist vehemently objected to the interim report. Thuli stunned us all when  in her final draft she edited the strong claims of the interim report watering down her own interim findings.

We still need to  hear from Madonsela to explain in her usual public briefing fashion the change of heart and clear conflict in the two reports. What stands is her final report exonerated the DA from what her interim report concluded.

This ambivalence is perhaps becoming the defining trait of our Public Protector.

Ambivalence perhaps not easily corroborated yet more than a whiff when we read of member of Parliament Bantu Holomisa  complaining that Madonsela proves choosey and lethargic to engage and act by investigating those close to her. Holomisa argues that such prove is the Pansy Tlakula current IEC chairperson case. While Holomisa as a politician could be accused of many things for his claim against the  public protector, Madonsela  has no right to argue now in semblance of arrogance ” I am not compelled to accept Holomisa’s request to investigate but decided to accept it after assessing”.

The right to decide when a request is lodged is duly enshrined and is not the subject of contention.  What is disconcerting is the lack of energy bemoaned by a Holomisa.

A further danger lurks when the deciding is perceived to be informed by more of a  preference. Suggesting there could be variables in such deciding that may prove ever- changing.  It certainly raises more questions as to the criteria for qualification for acceptance of  cases  “worthy “of her public resources. If the latter is true it would render the office of the public protector open for potential substantial manipulation and abuse.

The  Madonsela we hear now sounds like someone who has political power , is it possible that the most famous chapter 9 institution in democratic South  Africa  has an incumbent who became a victim of the rhetoric of SA politics. The victim of the black – white psyche, a victim of the elite and worker class paradigms and possibly a victim of presidential campaigns.

Whilst Madonsela is celebrated as the joint newsmaker for 2011, it is clear her star is falling and she will more and more become the subject of suspicion, her office may become more and more the object of question as she is viewed by those who make up the public.

If she is today a waning star it could be due to a combination  of factors amongst others her personal appetite for the media, her vulnerability in singularity to prove her independence from government manipulation, yet her subliminal acceptance of a “spokesperson” position  for the opposition (perhaps not  consciously).

 If Madonsela is today questioned from all corners it is because she proved ambivalent when it mattered. This ambivalence immanent in her report on the DA tender scandal. Her energy to pursue some as oppose to her lethargy to pursue others creates a conundrum of definition of what is defined in Thuli’s mind as the public.

If Thuli is today questioned and no longer celebrated it could be that she got caught in the hustle and bustle of politics in which some seek to use her to get even with others to run South Africa either as party or as presidential hopeful.

Yet notwithstanding the above South Africa needs a public protector who is free from influence not only from an assumed government manipulation but equally from a vicious and self-serving opposition.

It needs a Public protector who must maintain a critical distance of reflection between itself and those who claim a fourth estate right in the superlative.

It  needs a protector who will investigate less of preference but imbued by a conviction wrong is wrong and never will be right regardless who is implicated.

It needs a public protector who understands the political intricacies of this Society, its villain and victim mindset, its hidden agendas it’s fears and monopolized controls.

South Africa as a public needs nothing less. Maybe Baqwa and Mushwana understood this less or maybe they knew the media can make or break you, hence steer clear from influence and desists its offerings for its demands in the end are high, for they do represent a public just not always the one the office  of the public protector in constitutional dictate defines.

Clyde N. Ramalaine

Social commentator