Is Malema’s disrespect in our season of mourning not un-African behaviour!

–          Death  for the African demands its own revered space and place of respect  –

The Marikana Lonmin massacre is a dark moment in our post democratic era, no commission of enquiry, investigation on or any amount of money can bring back the lives of those Africans lost in a  week  now marked the solstice of our collective proverbial winter.

Listening to the parliamentary debates, conversations with fellow clergy, ordinary community expressions and the agony of faces contorted in questioning on why breadwinners had to die like this, depicts a clear point in time sombre for its taste, cold for its experience and callous for its irreversibility.

We as a collective nation are in mourning for we had not known this since the often less remembered Apartheid era. Yet as we pause we must prove cognisant of the reality that our national and provincial roads remain dangerous killing fields where at any time we may lose up to 15 lives in one tragedy of accident claim. We lose Africans all the time to the unknown cloud of death often unnecessary and worthy of condemnation, yet the Marikana moment stands in the shadow of itself for this was a labour dispute that had gone horribly wrong, when labour legislation allows for bargaining.

Yet notwithstanding who is to blame for what when and where in this tragedy, the truth this sombre moment is cannot be used to prove disrespectful to those who died their loved ones and the broader communities from where they equally hail. To use this grief-stricken moment as a signpost to prove politically expedient in disrespect of our collective mourning warrants condemnation regardless the perpetrator.  Julius Sello Malema the expelled ANCYL former leader and his backers appear to have silently prayed for a moment to attempt a poverbial ‘ Charge at the Bastille’, underwritten by the pain of those who reel from the agony of an untimely death’s visit, to make a comeback from political wilderness.

Malema like any normal citizen has a right to express his views of what happened.  He equally has a right to speak if invited, he equally has constitutional rights that guarantees him all rights we claim for ourselves.  I therefore do not buy  the  advanced notion that he should not have been allowed to speak. Hence my argument has nothing to do with denying him a right to address those who are in mourning for that would be an infringement on his rights and equally denying him a right to lead those who want him to lead them.

My challenge has directly to do with what Malema says and how he behaves amidst this moment of pain. My attention is an honest appeal at asking was this necessary? In African accepted culture no one is ever invited to a funeral, for funerals ignited by death brings family, friends, neighbours, enemies and even foes together in recognition of the reality of the visiting presence of death and its numbness of picking. It is therefore common at the time of death for people who have been fighting to become convinced to rethink the wrong of stalemates defined enmity. Death therefore by itself brings people together, it is that one solemn moment in which we all are left to realise how short, how vain, how defenceless and how futile our planning can be if we have less control of when it visits on us. As a pastor I have often presided over these peace initiatives between siblings, friends etc at the time of death. For death has a power to unite, less by consultation.

Death demands therefore a respect second to none, it is this respect I sincerely believe Malema fails to appreciate for in blindness of proving vengeful he obliterated the meaning of death and reinterpret it in an evanescent meaning  of divisive moment, as a means to get even with those whom he consider  rightly or wrongly his political enemies.

If the government ministers present walked out when Malema ascended the pulpit, they deserved being berated even called to order to have forgotten they are servants to us as citizenry. Yet they sat through Malema’s introduction and his tearing into them, until their humanity and respect militated affording another such superlative right to insult at whim only because you have a brief moment in the limelight notwithstanding its brevity and our equal collective pain.

Malema’s comments about who paid for the event, proved childish, whimpish and laced with arrogance and less sensitive of what happens for the African at a time of death. It is in the African mind a time when all share from what they have regardless of size or economic status. What was given and shared is never mentioned nor used as a means to bully ones way to act in manner of – since we gave – we can determine the scope of the unfolding programme and content. Malema therefore  fails to discern this moment of death the same that communicates our collective pain.

Malema chooses to single out people and advanced views on them clearly informed by his non-gratifying need to prove attacking and less sensitive. I am not sure to what extend his behaviour constitutes if at all a possible litigation case of defamation claim for he clearly has personal rights and for his information so do all regardless of status in society.

Malema’s behaviour saw mourners leave the venue, an act again I shall claim un-African for the words at the time of death are usually essentially informed by the need to unite. Malema’s claims perhaps nice on the ear for those vindictive and wrought in factionalism of definition, proves defiant in articulation yet remains glaring in substantial claim support.

I am afraid Malema the boy from Seshego with potential to lead if groomed, has been sliding into an agaping abyss of self-destruction no different to one who is heavily inebriated, barely able to walk and wants to drive his car. Malema, the one who made us conscious of an absence of economic redress debate in this unfolding epoch, has become a failed project in leadership development.  A failed project is my claim because it is not that he lacked potential to become, but he is overtaken by a persona that has now consistently shown him as one whom the description – when potential goes awry wrong- defines.  One pauses and asks, how does one get to this, how does one arrive at this self-seeking, attention hogging, insulting, character- assassinating, angry, self-righteous, vengeful, entitled being when you had such potential to serve?

How does the son of an African mother and father steeped in African culture as raised by his grandmother end up this disrespectful to  death’s silent but piercing moment? From where this grave insensitivity? How come this misconception not to appreciate the moment of death at least as observed by fellow Africans.

I  implore Malema that greatness is not shown in rudeness,  leadership is not understood in simplistic vengeance, the cause is always bigger than the individual. Malema, you had a golden chance to show you have matured, that your experiences has shaped you into a responsible leader, yet these low class utterances, and equal acts to disrespect the dead and their loved ones as well as all of us in South African definition has not endeared you to many of us. More so those who know you  can prove more sensitive as an African. Let it be known those who died are less of AMCU, NUM or SAPS definition but Africans whose blood was spilled in senselessness of arrogance from all those who remain equally responsible for this dark moment in our post-apartheid history.

When we appeal to you to prove sensitive it is not to deny you a view, space and recognition but to remind you that as an African your behaviour shame us who claim a joint-Africaness. 

My unsolicited advice please allow us to mourn, let us have our vigils of soul-cleansing, let us bury the dead and you will be afforded the ample time and space to argue your case, less of emotion but informed by facts. When we turn from the freshly dug holes  and heaps of decorated sorrow of the buried you will have your chance to lead whoever wants you to lead them, you will as always be free to start your party and establish your legal presence in political embrace.

Yet it remains not your right to prove less discerning of our common pain, the reality of our collective plight, the challenge of our agony of this moment defined in death’s embrace. You dare not prove to disrespect us, for your actions prove un-African in a time when Africans never prove divided, the moment of death.

Perhaps it is time for Fiona Forde to write the sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth’ maybe with the distinct difference of expression ‘Malema the African who failed to be African when it mattered most’, if this moment of Marikana is the maximum symbol of interpretation.

You could have endeared yourself to a greater constituency, if you chose to deal with respect of the dead and their families, for the cause remains always bigger than the individual and at the time of death we are less vengeful…

August 25, 2012

Bishop Clyde N. Ramalaine

Independent Commentator

Courtesy of Malema’s ANCYL- the by deFAULT face of economic redress :

Due November 2012


Why those who threaten a UDF – Relaunch, proves less sincere?

When political expediency proves less honest about our struggle history –

The debate on the re-launch of the UDF on this significant date of memory on this its 29th anniversary, remains clouded with less original thought but expediency. It is also a debate that floats in vaults of emotion.  To argue for  the re -launch is to misunderstand the very purpose for which over 400 formations, structures of community and civil society came together or should I dare assert were forced together by a unique moment in our history of struggle against a common enemy, apartheid.

The UDF in origin of history had apartheid as base and context. There are those today who argue the context is no different than the apartheid past South Africa. They attempt to corroborate their claims for similarity immanent in emotional claims of ‘ South Africa is falling apart’, the government is failing South Africans and a whole host of mostly rhetorical media sentimental claims of how dysfunctional the South Africa is in as led by those who are black.

When the likes of Mario Wanza today threatens a re-launch or resuscitation of the UDF it is less informed by objective reasoning nor sanity of  reason or an honest reflection of where we come from.

These in a moment of blindness of protesting our current reality attempts to capitalise on the very challenges we deal with in this post-apartheid context, which mirrors a confluence of challenges of stubborn apartheid legacy and our post-apartheid new challenges created by our dispensation.

The fundamental axis for us that must be dealt with is the question WHAT WAS THE UDF? Any claim to have the UDF resuscitated must deal with this cold reality. My challenge with those who argue for its re-launch resonates in this critical aspect of their lack to answer what the UDF was.

What was the UDF, to ask this question on the cuff appears easily understood self-explanatory and somewhat rhetorical and for some even a stupid question, yet close examination shows its much more complexed than what meets the eye.

The truth is dealing with this question perhaps constitutes the crux for the irrelevance if not impossibility of its re-launch because South Africa fundamentally, constitutionally and in every sense of definition in 2012 can simply not honestly be compared with the South Africa of 1983.

My first challenge with the protagonists of a UDF Resuscitation is the fact that they are less honest with themselves and us. The claimants of a similarity between back then and now are less honest and have not appreciated who the UDF was. The simple reality is that the UDF came about in a season when every legitimate structure of apartheid resistance was banned, banished, exiled, jailed and on the run. Back then structures were banned almost every week and this is no exaggeration, for as quick as the banning order was announced leaders and the people had new names for the movements and activities.

These short-sightedly if not deliberately want to divorce the UDF from its pre-history known in many epochs of resistance exemplified in for example the 1956 Defiance campaign, the 1962 Lilies Farm arrests, the subsequent trials, the Black Consciousness arise of the late 1960’s and early 1970’2, the 1976 student Uprise led by the Soweto based students against Afrikaans as medium of instruction and ultimately the 1980’s student Uprise led by the Cape Based students coupled with the Mass Democratic Movement initiatives of the early 1980’s.

Yet this snapshot picture to determine the aorta of who the UDF is in definition also must include the very many movement, initiatives, campaigns  like the mass consumer boycott.

My third challenge with our friends who prognosticate a re-launch is them being held immured by the location of its launch as that which proves more important or significant than those those who packed the actual venue and parking lots. These give the venue a paramount identity at the expense of the cause.

To therefore understand who the UDF was is to  naturally understand that its launch though a Rocklands Civic Centre event in Mitchells Plain (back then the biggest  ‘Coloured’ Township in apartheid South Africa) in 1983, was the assimilated conglomerate coming together of many structures that defined the contours and frontier of apartheid resistance.

I think one is arguing, it was not a specific group of race definition but the masses of South Africa consolidating their collective effort in one final push of resistance to say to apartheid unequivocally we are united not only are we united but we share the ideal of a democracy. A democracy that until then was non-existent and offered on piecemeal Bantustan and Tricameral party definitions, clearly strategies employed by apartments up-keepers to destroy if not delegitimises our collective case for a freedom of equality of humanity as inalienable right.

Those who argue for its resuscitation has firstly done a hash job of the UDF history. Such warrants rightful condemnation, for any dabbling with our history in such an evanescent manner warrants the strongest reprimand.

Not only have those who today cheaply attempt a re-launch misunderstood our history but they equally have resorted to the precarious and toxic sanitation means to rewrite our history in snapshot definition informed by a myopic and almost blatant disrespect.

These equally seek to confuse our current social challenges (a reality this epoch must deal with) with our historical political landscape challenges and conflate the two in simplicity of emotion. One cannot argue that the contexts that warranted the formation of the UDF back then now exists, unless one has not understood or proved willing to take the time to read on such history. It is almost as those who argue Marikana was worst then the Defiance Campaign Massacre, you simply cannot compare the two, and any attempt at such warrants engineering of truth. Yet I conluded a long time ago ‘truth does not straddle, desists  ambivalence, but  proves one-sided, faithful to what the sun captured and the moon attests too‘ (Niklos – CNSR).

Another challenge for those who argue that the UDF must be revived, resuscitated or re-launched is that they think of the UDF in a one dimensional somehow romanticised fashion. As much as one may seek to understand the proverbial  ‘longing back’ syndrome of some to an era of mass mobilisation and mass action defined in culmination of a structure named the UDF, the truth is we cannot remake or recreate the conditions for the UDF’s formation in willy-nilly sense.

Any respect for the UDF is a respect for our history of struggle which had many high moments less orchestrated by personality political intention of a few, but the will of the people who refused to be silenced into the night of avenge and killings, torture,  section 29 arrests and detention, victimisation and banishment.

Our friends who threatens a re-launch of the UDF, is blindsided for they have erroneously superimposed a tainted ‘Coloured – coded’ definition of meaning for the UDF as a racial group party.

Again these did not understand the UDF because the UDF was not a ‘Coloured’ movement, it was not a tribal African movement, it was not a  Christian or Muslim religious movement, it was not a CBO or a NGO, it was not a business forum, it was not an intellectual group of leaders, it was not a student movement, it was not a worker;s movement, it was not a women’s forum, or gender parity group, it was not a youth movement, or friends of the struggle – the UDF included all these sectors and groups but could and should  never be misunderstood in any of these as a means to define it’s  totality of definition.

I dare assert there are those who wrongly want to make the UDF a ‘Coloured’ Movement but these have not understood the role of the erstwhile and now late worthy of celebration Harry Gwala, Oscar Mpetha, Archie Gumede and many others who though Cape (Langa and Gugulethu ) based were leaders of this  FRONT called the United Democratic Front. I am deliberately raising these names not to over-emphasise their roles but to educate those who wrongfully think of the UDF as a movement that belonged to the ‘Coloured’ people. Though I come from this very group who were wrongly defined as ‘Coloured’ one dare not prove choosey on our history.

As much as its patron was the charismatic Allan Boesak he too understood like all it was never about a group, a racial group, or a specific set of leaders.

The UDF was simply the umbrella name for a host of structures banned and unbanned, renamed etc., that embodied its ultimate vision of unity for democracy proving a front.

The UDF represented a time in our history in which we struggled to destroy apartheid that which racially classified in shades of colour, heaviness of tongue and coarseness of hair families, neighbours and friends.

The UDF was the final push of a struggle that started centuries ago when the first defenders of land resisted the invaders of rightful geographical space, those Khoi- San defenders then knew that resistance was no luxury but a necessity.

The UDF stood in that same tradition that saw the establishment of the very structures that gave birth to the African National Congress in 1912, the UDF was the final push of resistance in exemplified historical context of the adoption of the armed struggle, , the loss of the ‘Coloured’ vote in 1955, the defiance campaign of 1956, the Lillies Farm arrest of 1962, the now famous Rivonia Trials that saw our leaders banished to Robben Island’ s lime quarry and many setting driven across borders into the unknown.

The UDF cannot be understood unless we reject the rise of Black Consciousness in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The UDF must be seen as the outflow of the 1976 Student Uprise and the 1980’s student Uprise and the Mass mobilisation of our people, regardless to colour, creed or any definition, at all levels and fronts hence its launch with no more equally a name, no more befitting a mandate and no more pristine a mission (the overthrow of apartheid).

Any claim of a re-launch if not perceptive in understanding of this historical context, if not driven by this mission, of not birthed from this conviction, if not supported by the masses across all mellifluous self-centred divisive  definitions of classification, is a solitary walk by one who has less understood.

The Western Cape provincial chairperson of the ANC is therefore correct to say ‘such attempts warrants resistance and rejection with the contempt it deserves’ for we would say in Afrikaans ons mag nie die verskansing selfs verbruiseling van ons geskiedenis ooit toelaat of duld nie”. Excuse me for resorting to my mother tongue to express the centrality of my thought consideration, that is to vehemently remonstrate that we may never allow such attempts and white-washing and sanitation of our history, we may not ever  prove tolerant to such attempts, for any people who forgets its history has no future. .

In conclusion, Mr. Wanza just like one can’t re-launch the ANC, you simply cannot re-launch the UDF, because it was not dreamt up in clever political expediency, it was not concocted in political dream,  but the resultant effect of a prevailing situation, circumstance unique in apartheid meaning, the same which simply do not exist now.

This moment may call for new responses but it can never be the UDF. To Wanza and those who believe they can threaten every year at the time of our commemoration its re-launch we say start your party, create your formation as this epoch demands but leave our history intact, for we paid for it and will not allow you or anyone to run roughshod over such for short-sighted political gains.

The UDF is our history and on this day we who were there on that on August 20, 1983 in the Rocklands Civic Centre will never allow such history to be meddled with for silly emotional benefit.

Our people in the Western Cape are facing serious challenges with claims of economic refugee-ship, schools being closed, requests for army invasion to deal with the Cape Flats gang infested communities, the legacy of Apartheid, and a need by some to use the courts as a means to deny the youth their constitutional rights to claim they can make the province ungovernable, these are serious indications of who and what we deal with in the Western Cape, but the answer is not the UDF, can never be for this moment requires new formations and structures that will answer the challenges of this moment.

Today we celebrate, the UDF,  its place in history unparalleled its time unmeasured and its impact pivotal if we have a democracy today.

Respectfully submitted

Bishop Clyde N. Ramalaine

Independent Commentator

Courtesy “Tradewinds are Blowing- Political Opinions and Musings, Due End October 2012

Marikana’ what did you bring?

Marikana’, what did you bring?

Marikana, no Wonderkroon

What did you bring?

LonMin, our freedom in a tin

Workers fragmented

A living wage, I wish it was sage

On hilltop, assembled

In semblance of a historic Matoppo

Marikana’, what did you bring

Wonderkroon, you make us all wonder

Souls convulsed in agony of despair

Hearts torn in foreverness of ache

Marikana, close to Mooinooi,

Yet nothing is left of celebrated beauty

When shots rang out, and lives ended

Instructions to shoot, from who knows where

A labour dispute we are told

Fractions of organised labour at war,

“Leaders”in blame game parade

May it be known , those who died

Were less  of AMCO nor of NUM or SAPS

But, Africans maimed, by Africans

Africans killed over Africa’s jewels

A living wage, still not getting central stage

All of this, painfully

In freedom’s embrace

Marikana’  –  a mistake, no a  massacre,

A labour dispute, gone awry wrong

Marikana’s dream defied’

Its soil forever tainted with spilled blood

Of Africans, who died without say goodbye!

Marikana, Wonderkroon,

What did you bring?

Faces of distraught loved ones

Emerges, the agony unbearing

Etched in expressions of pain

Breadwinners lay cold in death’s embrace

Heaped weapons that will never be held

Wonderkroon’s children crying

Wondering who will now provide

Mooinooi’s women in anguish,

Bereft of its claimed beauty,

Mzansi’s head hang in shame !

A Nation in bloodstained attire

Mournfully weep, its sons

Marikana’ Wonderkroon,

Is this how Africa will know you now ?

What a way to introduce yourself –

How many more African will die?

How much longer the workers fight?

How much longer ‘leaders’ posturing

… Marikana’ what did you bring….

 ‘Niklos’ (Clyde N.S. Ramalaine)

Copyright observed 2012, August 16

Courtesy   – ‘Windows of my Soul’, Poetry Collection due December 2012)

Road to Mangaung: Motlanthe a serious candidacy marred in vengeance of birth !


–          A nomination which will come with  poison chalice alliances, weaved in mistrust, that may tear anytime –

As we move swiftly to the October date of open nominations for ANC presidency which sets the seen for Manguang in December, I have taken it upon myself to advance why the main contenders for the position of President may or may not make it. I have in two previous instalments attempted to argue why Tokyo Sexwale’s individual campaign for high office will fail and why Matthew Phosa, the dark horse’s one legged campaign will remain a dark horse.

Today we turn our focus to Kgalema Motlanthe, perhaps the most serious contender to be nominated against the incumbent. We will look at his campaign, strategy, message and style. Out of such we shall ask can the declared hope of the fractured Youth League unseat  Jacob Zuma.

Motlanthe, former Secretary General of the ANC, deputy president of the ANC and South Africa, the brief hot seat-holder president of 7 -months before a Zuma took over, proves a very interesting character.

If Motlanthe today represents the hope of those who believe change is a must, the question must be ask from where this conviction of his campaigners?

Motlanthe remains perhaps the only president in SA embrace whose personal life proved a secret when he entered the hot seat and remained such secret until he left the same seat. Motlanthe is seen as a very private person, who is considered by many depending who you talk to when and where the closest thing to an Mbeki left in the ANC.  This privacy aspect of Motlanthe makes him a dicey character, not many know his Faith persuasion  although he at one point in his life considered the priesthood as vocation.

An Anglican former altar boy of Christian Faith persuasion he like many in the ANC share these strong religious backgrounds that shaped his thinking. What I just shared is not common knowledge for many, who are still struggling to know more of this private man.

The challenge of privacy if interpreted in this sense for a leader resonates in this that people want to feel a sense of owning, knowing and claiming  their president, if we understand the president of SA to be the ANC president. On the one hand he remains a mystery for many, and people don’t do well with mysteries.

  • Motlanthe the former Robben Islander is rightly or wrongly considered the current meridian of organisational sense, for some he is seen as a bridge-builder, one who has earned the respect of a cross- breed of those who constitute the decision makers if we may argue a sector based presence of influence.  He represents an almost avuncular presence for some. His credentials speak for itself in tripartite alliance context,  as one who was trusted to serve as the predecessor of the current Secretary General.

                Let us now turn to his campaign,

  • Motlanthe has shown due respect for the party processes as it relates to the upcoming elective conference. When I argue that, I am attempting to say, he unlike a Sexwale has resisted the temptation to be hoodwinked into showing his hand in media embrace. He opted to restrain himself from steering the subject matter of a future leadership in overtly attacking the incumbent, at least before the official Nomination process set for October 2012.
  • Motlanthe equally, therefore it can be claimed, honoured the selfless agenda of putting the movement above personal interest. He understands very well this subculture in the ANC that defines leadership as a privileged opportunity and not a right. Anything else could be interpreted as careerist move. Again something Tokyo Sexwale can learn from this ANC leader.
  • Motlanthe has attempted to craft the content of his campaign around policy matters. Recognising the significance of policy decisions as that which constitute the essence of development to define  the famous National Democratic Revolution touted at times in a silly manner by some. An indication of this was his public questioning of the construct of Second Transition. As much as very little changed in ultimate adoption at the policy conference, Motlanthe here clearly made himself the face of consciousness for the central thought of where the ANC should be going. It could be argued that he raised the issue, for two distinct reasons, 1. To claim the space as one who can question and therefore direct, notwithstanding the fact that he could have felt outsmarted by Zuma who by pronouncing on a Second Transition theme, seemed to  be setting the tone in leadership. 2. He also raised this issue to punch in typical Mbeki sense at the SACP, whose role clearly after Polokwane has grown in stature and influence in ANC leadership. He used to opportunity to advance justified reason for a distinction between ANC and SACP and the roles these played in cadre development. He did this almost claiming a right to know the ideological parenthesis of both organisation and the nexus of such congruence in historical definition.
  • Motlanthe will not start his campaign in October 2012, but some of us have been arguing he has been on this elongated campaign for over two years. Some will argue he has been campaigning with different intensities since Mbeki lost at Polokwane. He has delivered a number of key speeches for a variety of constituencies over this period, one particular speech was at Wits, which I dubbed the clearest indication yet that he was running.
  • Motlanthe’s campaign has a central message, supported by a theme. His theme is the issue of corruption, his message a new approach that inculcates a morality mirrored in  civic education awareness programmes to be incorporated in education syllabus. His choice of the hot subject of corruption finds good ears and equally good support because the aggregate argument advanced by those who claim to know and those who  do not know is that SA is a corruption infested country, and such corruption is immanent in government procurement actions and services. Motlanthe therefore notwithstanding the fact that Zuma’s government can be considered the only true government in Post-Apartheid context to have literally acted against corrupt officials and ministers with this major theme argues I will deal with corruption in my term when I am afforded a chance to serve.
  • Motlanthe notwithstanding the fact that his educational background beyond his high schooling in Orlando Soweto is not known has managed to position himself as last frontier of intellectual thought in the ANC. In a climate where we are often told, the intellectual thought development in the ANC is waning and has departed, at least if the weekly ‘analysis’ of Xolele Mangcu, Prince Mashele, Mcebisi Ndletyana, Sibusiso Ndebele and others is taken serious. We may argue the veracity and validity of such from various angles and corners, what cannot be argued is the foresight he had in proving clever to capitalise on this vacant space. He seemed to have stepped right into the vacant space left by the departure of Mbeki.  He has neatly crafted himself as the one to occupy the space left with the departing of Mbeki. We must still see if he truly represents the loci of intellectual meridian or if he is claiming shoes bigger than what may suit him. The fact is in politics a good politician can see gaps and spaces left and seizes upon those for his cause, this Motlanthe in my opinion has done successfully.
  • Motlanthe, early on courted the ANCYL Youth League, he understood the importance of the youth league not because it is a bigger constituency but because it has a sentimental claim of kingmaker – status, a claim in my view Zuma has shown as over-exaggerated if not vacuous. In an earlier note I penned I argued that his first task to facilitate the ANCYL case with Ruben Masoga’s claims against Malema, was handled with one eye on his personal political future. It is my view that though Motlanthe back then arbitrated informed by the interest of the Movement, he clearly sold himself to Malema, when he vindicated Malema in what many thought was a justified case raised by Masoga.
  • If Motlanthe today has the support of the Youth League we may ask what Youth League and the answer reverberates, Malema’s Youth League. As Zuma’s star in Youth League eyes faded, Motlanthe’s star was rising as he became the popular leader requested by the Youth League to deliver their keynote addresses. At many of these gatherings he was called and referred as the president in waiting. At one such gathering in the dying days of Malema’s leadership of the ANCYL, members were seen sporting T-shirts with Motlanthe’s face and the designation president blazoned across.  Again Motlanthe, proved selfless when he rebuked them for doing such.  In  most cases Motlanthe the wise politician carefully used these platforms not to rebuke the youth but to sound very conciliatory towards the Youth. If you ask me as  a shrewd politician he knew how important it was to claim the Youth as his constituency, though he was part of the very ANC top leadership who lodged the cases against Malema and his cohorts. Motlanthe managed to remain the darling of Malema’s Youth, as the hate for Zuma began to mount in youth articulation. Motlanthe clearly enjoys the idea of being the preferred ANCYL choice, who would not pay for such free marketing in an election year.  Yet Malema’s Youth league is not a sustainable constituency for it seems to be a historical league and equally made promises to many others including Motlanthe, Sexwale, Phosa and Mashatile among others.
  • Perhaps the biggest threat is Malema is no more, and he has become a liability for those who wanted to maximise on this young man’s ‘popularity’ in some circles. His insulting and continual castigation of Zuma’s leadership began to prove less aimed at Zuma but the ANC leadership. Provincial structures of the ANCYL began to distance themselves from Malema’s influence and absent -presence in a Ronald Lamola. Motlanthe however as a politician still counts the monopoly poker chips this highly directionless even leaderless Youth league offers.
  • Motlanthe is a former NUM ( National Union of Mineworkers) member, having served this labour fraternity as secretary general.  His entrance into mainstream politics in ANC context is therefore in recent sense paved from the labour context. This on the cuff proves a major plus because of the strong presence of organised labour in Alliance embrace. Yet it is not an outright guarantee as a finalised unilateral constituency of a Motlanthe. At best it can be accepted that he will muster some support from some sectors of the labour fraternity represented in the COSATU fold. When we say that we are saying COSATU is not anyone candidates claim but Zuma has secured a very solid block of support and Motlanthe will have to work for more support. COSATU has its own serious divisions immanent in personality politics who all seek to determine a final COSATU endorsed ANC candidate. Vavi is on record to be opposed to a second term for the incumbent, yet his boss Dlamini has a long time ago nailed his Zuma support colours to the mast.
  • Motlanthe, cannot count on the support or the influential SACP block, he has done enough to stir the ire of this group and will struggle to secure their support, for they have made known the support for a second term for Zuma. Motlanthe therefore knows that his similar antics of what could be considered Mbeki’s stance has not endeared him to the SACP.
  • Motlanthe, will battle to secure the Women’s League vote, though this league like all formations of the ANC  proves not monolithic a constituency, it is known to make their choice for candidacy in one voice. Motlanthe with his perhaps correct stance on the Limpopo books scandal has taken his sight clearly to Minister Angie Motshekga. The challenge is Motshekga is the president of the Women’s League, meaning the less volatile of the three leagues, could be stirred into a split in deciding on its preferred candidacy. It could be a very tactical move on the part of Motlanthe to take the fight to Angie Motshekga with the hope of forcing Zuma’s hand to fire her, which could give him a potential inroad as he dislodges the perceived hold Zuma has of this constituency. This may prove a precarious strategy which could backfire for if Zuma digs in his heels and the Women’s League decides to close ranks around their leader, Motlanthe may prove an outright loser for this constituency, yet there is no error in attempting.
  • Motlanthe’s campaign will capitalise on the somewhat clear divisions in the military Veterans League. Recent public statements from the League has seen some like  Chairperson Kebby Mphatsoe condemn the behaviour of the ANCYL and its expelled leader for his vitriolic and insuling attacks on the ANC president, while others like Sejake are on record demanding a change of ANC leadership at Mangaung. The politics in the Veterans League is real marred by claims and counter claims of financial abuse, and as we move forward more and more  dirty linen will be aired. It can be said that both Zuma and Motlanthe have backers in the League, what is not sure by what margin  Zuma has secured the edge, because the leadership of the Leaugue did attempt to sanction Sejake for his comments.
  • Motlanthe’s campaign needs the blessing  and support of the Office of the Secretary General, the secretary general serves as the de facto CEO of the organisation and  is at the heart of the organisations communication, the office  represents the harness and critical cog of branch vetting, information sharing and all organisational and management issues. Motlanthe will know all too well the importance of this office in the election process. It can be said Motlanthe has not proven a friend to Gwede Mantashe who remains accused by the Youth as a co-conspirator to bring the charges against the Youth League leaders. Motlanthe’s pereceived  ambivalence on the NDC &NDCA processes remains noted. Also Zuma has managed to have a good  relationship with the SG.
  • It is common cause that it is the branches of the ANC that will elect the ANC leadership which to a large extend becomes the leadership of South Africa. These branches make up provinces in geographical definition which is from where we derive a sense of which provinces may support whose candidacy. I have in adumbrated sense attempted to look at these provinces and how they potentially may vote.

1.1  It is commonly accepted that Motlanthe cannot count on Kwa Zulu Natal (the most powerful in numbers) Province. This Province has long made their choice known and such choice was not for Motlanthe

1.2 He also cannot count on the Eastern Cape, who represents a strong but fractured province. Fractured because it remains a contested terrain, which it is said Zuma can claim he has more than the edge at this stage. It also is an area that Sexwale’s individual campaign targeted to win over as his potential constituency. I still hold Motlanthe has work to do beat Zuma in this province.

1.3 Free State, it is said remains a Zuma endorsed province and though there are pockets of resistance, in the final analysis it will prove immaterial for a Zuma defeat. Motlanthe cannot fish too much in this pond.

1.4 Northern Cape, the smallest in representation has because of its youth league proven very vocally defiant, yet Block won and it is argued he is hurt because it is claimed he is being pursued with the current cases levelled against him. Motlanthe can most probably count on a better part of the province’s support, yet his campaign theme of anti-corruption may suffer if he is seen to cosy up to Block. In the end it’s a gamble he will have to make and it is one of those he may be able to offload easily if the court case is permitted to run its cause.

1.5  The North-West Province is a challenging province for many reasons, besides being the pothole-infested province with large sections of its road – infrastructure corroded away and in a generally dilapidated state. The province is arguably another of the corrupt ones, wrought with infighting and perhaps the worst scandal the convicted killing of a politician by another, proves another dead race for both Zuma and Motlanthe. Another element that proves important for wrong or right reasons is the premier Thandi Modise.

As deputy -secretary general she is a member of the top 5, and is considered an unhappy premier, who in all likelihood would rally in support behind a Motlanthe campaign. Again Modise is under much pressure with a province riddled with corruption, tender irregularities, political insights and a convicted politician murder, some have begun to call for her political head.

This may not necessarily help the Mr. Clean of corruption campaign Motlanthe want to be known for. He may decide which I think he will to accept the support of Modise and whatever she still has control over in the province as it relates to constituency.  This I do not think will guarantee any majority by any stretch of the imagination, because Modise has lost the gravitas of her support. I would give Zuma a slight edge over him in North West.

1.6  Limpopo, the province that delivered for Zuma at Polokwane may prove Motlanthe’s strongest support if the conflated support of Mathale and Malema plus Motlanthe’s tribal background holds sway. The issue of tribalism surfaced during  Mbeki’s administration when it was often  accused  as the Xhosa – Nostra.  Now under Zuma as accused by his detractors  we hear of the Zulu -Kingdom ( Nkandla), this in my view could easily become the Pedi- Caddy or get a Tswana – Twang. I am saying this to argue tribalism is not new and as much as some want to level that against others when it suits them, they too fall prey of being accused for al leaders come from tribal settings and easily could be defined by such for wrong or right reasons. The ANC remains a non tribal party and Movement, but it cant deny the realities of the excated claims immanent in personalities.

1.7 Western Cape, province is also one of the smaller provinces in comparison KZN and Eastern Cape. The province known for its ugly and perennial leadership squabbles be it at PEC or ANCYL level, where conferences liberally are cancelled because numbers were not attained, is a difficult constituency to assess, particularly because the province remains South Africa’s only province controlled in governance not by the ANC. The province is an open contest and I  am of the view that Motlanthe cannot claim it as a done deal, instead I think Zuma has reasonable control over it and can claim if there is today a sense of stability in leadership it is because of the presence of the current Provincial Leader Marius Fransman , who equally serves as Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations. This could give Zuma the slight edge if not more of an advantage en-route to  Mangaung.

1.8 Gauteng, as a Province similar to Limpopo it can be argued is in support of a Motlanthe nomination. Gauteng as led by Paul Mashatile has nailed its colours to the mast a long time ago, when it even attempted to persuade the nomination process to have an early start. Yet Gauteng is not a done deal because depending on where you are it reflects support for both Zuma and Motlanthe. Gauteng Central with its strong Midrand- claimed ‘think tank’ is Motlanthe’s yet Gauteng East is Zuma’s and the Tshwane area it is said Zuma has a lead in support and Motlante will have to do catch up work. We will remember how Motlanthe very recently in Soshanguve failed to draw a crowd to listen to his speech, this when the area is claimed to be his stronghold.

Yet I hold Motlanthe if he teams up with a Sexwale (one of the potential  poison chalices he may have to drink) may secure the majority of support in Gauteng. The only challenge with this is he may only serve one term, because Sexwale will not wait for two terms.

1.9 Mpumalanga, former erstwhile political power zone of ANC Treasurer General Matthews Phosa, with David Mabuza’s  win the Zuma ticket may claim the province yet the machinery of lobbying is hard at work to revive the old and former support Phosa had to bring to the table if and when a deal needs to be made. It can be expected that Phosa will use his support here and the Youth League to barter a position by choosing to back a Motlanthe candidacy. Phosa knows how to divide anyone’s power and make his power count in that, he may never be the main contender but he always will have a say, he is perhaps another poisonous chalice that an aspiring Motlanthe will have to cut a deal with, we not sure what the payback requirements will be because nothing is for free.

  1. Motlanthe has more challenges counting against him than what meets the eye. here are a few:

1.1  The challenge is there are no ideological differences between Motlanthe and Zuma. This reduces the campaign to a personality issue more than a fundamental ideological perspective that necessarily will prove earth shattering once he comes to power should he succeed as some claim he will.

1.2 In party sense, there are no overt differences on the policies of the ANC, the most recent policy conference items in principle agreed to conclude the items to incorporate the aspects the Youth League raised though not fully or in the sense exactly as they advanced it.

1.3 He must prove careful not to be seen to have been made by the Malema Youth League who may come back and demand of him for example nationalisation when that is not ANC policy.

1.4The critical question he must contend with is ‘why is this Youth League nominating me as a replacement for Zuma is my nomination in vengeance or because they believe I will do something different’. The jury remains out as to whether he will conclude his candidacy  stands in its own shadow, or in a shadow of Zuma – Anger, to be settled in what I have consistently termed a ‘Promised Mangaung of Revenge’.  It would be wrong to narrowly define his candidacy through the short-lived anger, tit-for-tat emotional claim.

1.5 In organisational sense depending who you speak to he is seen as one who cannot be trusted. Known for playing his cards close to his chest, may be questionable in loyalty as both the Mbeki and Zuma candidacies found. He it was said joined the Zuma side at a politically brutal and bloody Polokwane very late.

1.6 He often is regarded as one who lacks the will to fight, which makes him a not trusted candidate by others who would have preferred him raising his hand early.

1.7 He could be compromised by the latent anger of those who comprises those still mad with the departure of an Mbeki, who felt they lost the control, power and the very access to resources the same the now accuse others of corruption. He should not try and fight Mbeki’s fights as some may want him to engage in.

1.8The current publicised Iran deals of his girlfriend Gugu Mtshali, while not proven purports to show traces of irresponsibility potentially corruption, a flouting of SA policy directives by those who claim to have represented Ms. Mtshali in the claimed R10million bribery story. Motlanthe acted quickly by calling on the Public Protector to investigate and rule on such.  It is expected that the Public Protector will release her preliminary report by the end of this week. This is considered by many as his firm commitment to even subject himself to scrutiny, which is a good sign of leadership, yet he takes a serious gamble because if the claims are verified and the apparent flight tickets were secured and recordings confirm the solicitation of the R10million bribe, where will it leave him,  but to step aside because ultimately her sin if proven would be transposed on to him, and his campaign with its corruption theme will stand naked.

1.9The second aspect of this claimed corruption is that with a known history now of ANCYL leaders, turning on those they have preferred, the case can be made that should he secure the seat, he may be finding himself like Zuma questioned about this very Iran claimed corruption deal. Zuma’s sins flow from the lips of those who once pledge a loyalty to him. Even forgotten stuff features when people get angry.

1.10         His campaign if secured will be claimed by a Malema absent-present leadership as their victory, meaning he will be compelled to argue for the reinstatement of Malema.  Malema in an interview in London last week arrogantly asserted he will be back once Zuma is gone at Polokwane. I am one of those who hold, Zuma has done not just himself a favour by showing leadership to have Malema expelled, but he has equally helped whoever will win at Mangaung because if Malema stays expelled the new incumbent will breathe a sigh of great relief, not having to deal with a Malema. Maybe somebody later will quietly thank Zuma for this.

1.11           Motlanthe, though apparently attempting to run his campaign informed by a policy base contention, truthfully cannot claim such policy as his because policy development in the ANC is a collective initiative in which no individual can claim it is his/hers. The critical point I wish to make here is that his campaign may purport to be a policy base one but on close examination prove vague if at all truly informed by such policy base.

1.12          He came late to the Zuma side of the fence in a sense of reluctance, yet compelled because of his personal ambition. He proves an enigma for many constituencies in the ANC. This may make those who has prerogative to decide on leadership, to ask can we trust this man.

1.13          The alliances that he will need to form to secure his seat, may compromise his personal value-system. We all remember how he once chided Sexwale during the Polokwane elections in saying paraphrased sense ‘one is not a leader just because you stand in front and talk’. Equally he may have to agree with people to form united front topple Zuma, and find himself toppled by the same that went into alliance with him. As the lists are being populated the focus cannot be for him ALL BUT ZUMA, for even if Zuma loses Motlanthe will not be guaranteed an easy ride.

1.14 Motlanthe as deputy president of ANC and SA, cannot be absolved from the claims levelled against a Zuma administration, if the organisation is in crises, he is the second in command, the question is what did he do? If the Government is in state of flux, and books are not delivered, and tender systems in Limpopo are abused until the Province is bankrupt, where was he as the second in command? Yes the buck stop with the Zuma, but there is a conjoined responsibility at both Organisational and National Government level that he and those who serve with Zuma share. This brings me to the fundamental question: from what wells of comfort do those drink who believe a Motlanthe candidacy will prove the stark opposite of what we currently share, for he is equally accountable for the organisational factions and for allowing some of this spill into government?

In conclusion, it is a known fact that if Motlanthe has any dream of unseating Zuma at Mangaung he will firstly need to raise his hand and garner all the support. This literally means he will be compelled to form alliances some of utter discomfort with people whom he may not trust, who equally do not regard him as trustworthy.

These alliances may prove poisoned chalices as was visible for a Zuma first term election could prove unholy, controlling and costly when personal ambitions began to dictate and impatience and manifest in him becoming the object of questioning in leadership.

We have seen how quick the tables can turn on an incumbent, so after Mbeki no president is guaranteed a second term regardless what popularity he/she may enjoy at this juncture. Motlanthe it must be said is running a reasonable clean campaign, respecting the elections processes of the ANC. He adopts the saviour mind-set not overtly attacking Zuma yet attempting to make his campaign a policy based one.

Perhaps the biggest challenge with Motlanthe’s preferred candidacy as led, called for and insisted by the Malema led ANCYL is the fact that it taints a strong candidate,  and renders his candidacy almost not authentic but one borne from a hate for the current incumbent –  Zuma, which if we can learn from the Mbeki experience simply do not hold.

If one nominates a leader one must be convinced in the absence of everything else why one moves for such candidacy, anytime it originates from a bitterness of another, the likelihood is a precedent is created for a repeat of history. As the saying go, ‘history repeats itself the first time in a farce the second in tragedy’

In the end I hold Motlanthe will have no choice but to accept to stand in nomination, he will be forced to enter into alliances that could be in the end his very undoing, he will go to Mangaung and find out that the incumbent  Jacob Zuma was well prepared for his onslaught and equally to task to stymie this nomination, possibly marking the end of a strong candidate Motlanthe in leadership contest, for after Jacob G. Zuma’s second term the issue of a Women’s president will gain momentum and be it for sentimental or real reasons, we may see after 2017 the first woman ANC President, arguably Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

Independent Commentator

This article courtesy: ‘Tradewinds are Blowing’ – Political Commentary and Musings

(Due October 2012)

August6, 2012

The Africa Question: Obama’s error is he never attempted!

– Africa’s hope dashed by this son of an African –

Africa quickly learnt that it makes no sense whether the president of the USA is “black” or “white”, America’s personal interest remains paramount.

Hence the disappointment of many Africans with Obama, the son of a Kenyan father, who literally means nothing for Africa in this epoch. Were Africans wrong to have had these expectations? What fuelled these expectations?

As the first term of Barack Obama America’s 44th President swiftly draws to an end Africans from Cape to Cairo, from Ghoree Bay to Nairobi ask what sense to make of an Obama Presidency in African context. Perhaps Africans like many of similar ancestry in the USA  misunderstood the election of Obama as a moment of significance that would finally bring the conflicting dialectical tensions and realities of either domestic America or Africa to the centre of the table. Perhaps Africans assumed out of their desperate plight and pain that the gods smiled on them in bringing one of them to the highest office in global context.

Was such a hope a justified or a misplaced hope? I dare assert the answer is not an either or but maybe evident in both. Let me firstly deal with the justified aspect of this hope. For centuries of a world its economic systems and industrialisation and now lately what we term the globe, the issues of Africa’s legitimate and rightful claims against those who committed savagery and violently abusing her remains unheard.

The continuing robbery, rape, abuse legitimised by the triple chains of racism, discrimination and exploitation wrapped in the insidious blanket of colonialism inflicted by a Eurocentric-dictated-interest go on unabated. This colonialism in which Africans became black, savages, uncivilized ones,  kafirs, barbarians who need to be subdued and classically re-conditioned into a Western mind of civilisation is a stubborn enemy refusing to let go.

Africa this vast continent became the space and place where a mineral bereft Europe could stake its claim, build its infrastructure from and web a synapses of economic denial for those of darker melanin skin tone, while they walk off with the minerals and its wealth. The savagery and looting never stopped as recent as 2012, when newly appointed UN special envoy Thabo Mbeki made the UN commission aware of the billions of dollars that leaves Africa in illegally and illegitimate manner.

This looting that started centuries ago is going ahead unabated, and cocooned by a sense of economic means justified for some, yet the  result of this is a begging Africa, a disrespected Africa if its  African Union and due ancillary structures are not afforded the same status of for example a European Union.

The disrespect has affected the psychology of the African mind as Frantz Fanon and later Steve Biko would late lament in analysis. The perennial  abuse, rape and  injustices done to Africa at times abetted by African leadership held hostage by power and money has rendered Africa the plight of the world when it receives as high as 46% of all foreign donations for the basics that makes up life.

This observed and experienced reality has given birth to Nkrumah and others who in condemnation of this abuse called for an African –  Renaissance when Africans find their own solutions for Africa’s problems in claiming its space in the globe.  Hence the justification of this hope for a deliberate change in Western thinking in the global context with the election of  Barack Hussein Obama, fuelled by itself that hope that finally Africa’s challenges and Africa’s case against the world in the court of the universe could be heard.

A second reason why Africans in general expected a change of heart in Western and global thinking on Africa resonates in this that Africans out of its DNA identifies with Africans, in a sense in  borderless defiance of geographic confinement  and a boundary-less interpretation of identity. Out of such psyche it would naturally celebrate an Obama election, as a victory for Africa be it in symbolism or anticipated praxis.

Hence the expectations raised, particularly when they assume the pain of Africa needs no explanation to a fellow African, it’s similar agony needed not be taught for those who claim and African ancestry and background regardless of how many centuries ago. Nor does its legitimate legal case and claim to a Law Professor from Harvard.

The misunderstanding part resonates in this that Africans be they in the Diaspora or on the continent misunderstood not out of stupidity or ignorance the election of Obama as truly an American President from a normal American Party context, participating in an almost century long twin-party definition of Democrat and Republican definition.

This is a critical point to consider, one cannot separate Obama as USA president from being a Democrat. In the USA, Democrats and Republicans represents respectively liberal and conservative stances. It is worthy to note that perhaps these two simplistic descriptions of the two parties holds many including party members immured to always act in the parameters of such definition.

Obama therefore did not bring his favourite shooting-hoop to the White house as anybody other than a liberal. This liberal agenda exemplified in Democratic Party idealism is what made and equally affords Obama his presidency. If he therefore governs or leads it must be understood from this undeniable reality that he serves as the nomination of a liberal party, making it impossible to invoke or exact a nationalist agenda on him.

If Africa will count in the 21 century African thinkers long ago agreed it must pursue a nationalist agenda in which a sense of brotherhood need to prove preeminent and the identifying of a common enemy the path to freedom.

Africans therefore and more so those who think from a Renaissance model and idealism knows Obama by himself can never do anything for Africans what Africans cannot do for themselves. Africans in general may misunderstand the election of Obama in a historic water-shed somewhat romantic and universally change aimed moment. Yet Africans in particular those who know understands his ascendance to the White House whilst a euphoric moment in history, remains that for Americans but does so with no relatedness of expectation to interpret any meaningful change for the continent that produced human life.

One may advance a litany of equally important reasons for such misunderstanding contention, yet that is not the premise and focus this article attempts to argue.

This brings us to the question what then could be the legitimate measured expectation Africans and equally the Arab world had of Obama?

If Hillary Clinton is today dispatched on a whirlwind of an 11 day Africa pit-stop campaign for Obama’s new Africa strategy of promoting development by stimulating economic growth, advancing peace and security and strengthening democracy, we must ask how serious this can be taken when Africa never featured for the son of African, occupying the White House since January 2009. How serious can this be taken when Africa’s grandson never came home (Perhaps the title of a future book – Obama the African Son who never came home)

Perhaps we must nail our colours to the mast and categorically assert what we expected, because in the absence of such, we may be misunderstood even castigated  to have wrongly assumed his role and initiatives through a lens of unjustified entitlement  less by reason.

We expected Obama to attempt out if his Africaness to link back and make these connections that history has allowed to course through his veins.  It could not be but easy because looking into that mirror every morning when he readies himself compels one to acknowledge what you see. It could not have been that difficult because the eyes he look into as the love of his life understands this African agony that followed her ancestral lines from somewhere in West Africa and still haunts in Watts, Harlem, Detroit etc.

We expected Obama to attempt out of the giftedness of an undeniable  intellect afforded. We expected Obama out of his epistimological cravity, the global context and moment afforded to not only comprehend, but to attempt leadership on the critical issues that ensembles the African Agenda. We did not expect him to be our spokesman or to fight our battles because that Africans through centuries of struggle know best, as can be found from that Old Testament text when Moses the chosen and anointed servant who married a ‘black’ women, appeals to Cush  his brother-in-law to lead them  Cush can be our eyes – knows the way.

We expected his foreign diplomacy to accommodate the Africa  and  Arab-World’s different than those before, because this moment in international sense demands this difference in thinking, comprehension, leading and attempting. We expected him to take Africa more serious because his family is still in Kenya.

We expected Obama to surpass his predecessor in Democratic Presidency William Jefferson Clinton, affectionately remembered as the first black president. What sets a Clinton apart was not his blackness of melanin, but his grasp to understand and use the very Democratic Party platform to attempt, what was impossible. Clinton, as irresponsible  as some may think he was for allowing a situation to be subjected to an impeachment hearing, attempted to hear Africa in its domestic  (African – American) or international (Africa) definition. He understood the tough choices he had to make; his epistemology afforded him to attempt the tough Middle -East question in bringing its conflicting leaders Yasser Arafat and Yitshak Rabin to talks. He knew how to bring these opposing troublesome context forces together  not because he had a predecessor who showed him how, but because he knew the moment demanded nothing less. It hence it can be safely concluded, under his presidency the world came the closest to seeing the Middle -East question being dealt with.

Clinton’s deliberate  expenditure on the domestic front on affirmative action and other empowerment programmes attests to his leadership, rendering him the forever darling of African- America. His engagements and numerous visits too many parts of Africa proved his willingness to listen and learn from Africans shaping his foreign diplomacy agenda as that which was attempting to give Africa its space, he equally helped in the many aid programmes.

Notice the operative word is he attempted. Notwithstanding the fact that some may counter argue my assertion and say you can’t compare Clinton and Obama because their economic climates are distinctly different.  That as valid a point is no reason for Obama to end his second term without having attempted to help the African agenda. Africans did not want any miracles but having had a Clinton attempt it expected an Obama to attempt even better.

In a previous article I lament Obama’s choice and preference for a Eurocentric Foreign diplomacy focus, in which he sought to harness and built on the platforms and vein that his predecessor George  W. Bush set as was seen with his close links to the United Kingdom’s Tony Blair. Obama rightly or wrongly appeared more at home in enjoying his personal Irish home-coming if kinship, more than his low key African visit. In fact Obama lacked the capacity to discern the need to visit Africa to learn from its people and its leaders. It is said the White House incumbent refuse to come to South Africa because in his last visit as senator he felt snubbed by the Former Presiden of SA Thabo Mbeki. So Michelle, comes but Obama does not preferring to have side meetings at Davos  and G8 gatherings with Africa’s leaders.

Obama clearly had not spent enough time learning from Africans, which in a sense has robbed him from having a foreign diplomacy handle or focus with Africa as key, not just for him personally but as forecasted by many economists and those who in search of a response to a crumbling capitalist system asks where next. He has not proved cognisant of the  current encouraging economic growth patterns emerging in Africa, the regional stabilities fragile in some circles, and the enthrenchment of good governance that meanders through Africa. These in the larger sense attest to this future destiny of Africa.  The clear democratic stance adopted for governance that more and more dispels the coup-de-tats for which Africa became wrongly known for, is pointing to its future role. Not only the aforementioned aspects but the researched facts that Africa still holds vaults of mineral resources and some argue even more than what was stolen over centuries.
Perhaps Africans must accept Obama, does not view Africa as Africans romantically view him. In one of a very few interviews on Africa he gave with SABC anchor Sherwin Bryce Peace, Obama’s only word to Africa and  its leaders was in typical Big Brother mind of ‘stop your corruption’.

This summarises the mindset of America’s 44th president on Africa, in the end it does not matter for Africans if Obama gets a second term or not, it is immaterial in the greater scheme of things.

Hence dispatching Hillary Clinton to Africa three months before the nominations for the Presidential elections are finalised and hearing her message to Africans confirms again the man in the White House is less concerned about Africa, and do not see Africa the emerging cog of future economic development and global redefine a global player that warrants him attempting to show interest in shaping his personal legacy on such attempt. Hillary’s trip is again the typical window dressing of election making to bolster the contention contrary to the ever-fumbling in foreign policy articulation Mitt Romney; Obama can thus claim he has a foreign policy on Africa.

Obama is as African as he is not African and Africans must quit demanding from this domestic president a foreign diplomacy comprehension and concomitant equal action that would confirm notwithstanding his liberal party that he ever would attempt as I already postulated.

In the end it does not ever matter anymore if America has as 45th president in ‘black’ or ‘white’ a  man, come January 20, 2013, as long as he does not attempt,  Africans will have to continue their solitary slug in a biased world where its legitimate credit remains unsettled, its claim unanswered, it’s case unheard and its future equally denied, reduced to the backbench of insignificance.

Let me then also confess, there was a time I stood proud in January 2009, in Los Angeles  California, addressing Church groups,  commented and debated finally Africa may see more than the Bill Clinton celebrated attempt. If you asked me then who I wanted to enjoy a great hour in conversation I would have said easily Barack Hussein Obama. I felt this way even after  I met his spiritual father Dr. Jeremiah Wright, undeniably a brilliant mind and equally engaged him, I still wanted to meet Obama.

Yet today I know perhaps the only USA President I would pay to have an hour of thought-provoking engagement remains William Jefferson Clinton, for in my books he attempted what Obama dismally FAILED.

It is right here that the famous quote “Black man you on your own “ finds new meaning as I afford myselfe poetic licence to add, African- American in Inglewood,  you on your own,  Africa you are on your own, have no hopes for it makes no difference if it’s Obama or Romney, Africa is not on the incumbent White House’s agenda, it certainly was not from the time George W. Bush was sworn in until now. It does not look it will be in the foreseeable future regardless who takes the oath, come January 20, 2013.

It makes no difference who occupies the White House ‘black’ or ‘white’ unless he is willing to attempt, the error of Obama, I hold is  he never attempted.

Bishop Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

An Independent Commentator,

Authored: Preach a Storm Live a Tornado, – A Theology of Preaching 2011

 Through the Prism of my Soul – Political Commentary and Analysis 2011

This article appears courtesy: ‘Tradewinds are Blowing’ – Political Commentary & Musings

                                                                                  Due October 2012                  

August 3, 2012

Syria: Questions from a foreign diplomacy novice !

– Is it foolish to hold or expect  human life sacrosanct in relation to interest -?

I start this note with a disclaimer, I am no specialist or analyst on foreign diplomacy nor do I claim to understand the multiplicity of intricacies informing the Syrian debacle, I equally have not fully grappled or comprehended the complexities of the many themes and side themes informing geo-global political context.

I thought it appropriate at this juncture to take a leaf out of my  dad’s advice manual, he  held ‘if you know talk, if you don’t know listen and ask questions for it becomes the means for gaining insight’. This note of the many I had penned arguably will contain a barrage of questions, if it frustrates you; bear with me I am trying to do what my dad advised, because I am a novice. If in the cause of reading it you find my questions stupid, I shall again have to count on my advisor as he astutely would  remonstrate, ‘the only stupid question is an unasked one’

This morning we awake to the news of the resigning of Kofi Annan envoy and diplomat of the UN assigned to find the means for a solution on the Syrian impasse of over 18 months. Calling this an impasse is perhaps a gross misunderstanding because the truth is hundreds of thousands of lives are negatively impacted by this untenable situation in which more than over 25000 lives are reported lost.  What are the implications of Kofi Annan, current UN peace envoy for the Syrian impasse resigning  mean? Is Syria becoming the true test of legitimacy of the UN weight pullers, pitting West & East powers?

Clearly the quitting of Kofi Annan the usually stately and  dignified African Diplomat puts a spin on the unfolding Syrian question. Annan who under difficult circumstances led this 6 point plan amidst torrid waters threw in the proverbial towel. His articulation and clear exasperation manifested in raised emotions on the frustrations of the process is showing the process as a definitive stalemate and possibly a cul-de-sac.

For Annan at a personal level this has in a sense marred his personal legacy depending from which side you look at it,  yet that is the least of issues and much less imperative  as critical issue in the greater scheme of things.

Notwithstanding how diverse we may opine on reasons and roles of those who had contributed to the Syrian issue, it firstly cannot be seen in a vacuum but must remain cognisant of the greater interacting and present Middle East conflated politics of control.

What cannot be disputed is that the regime of Assad is butchering his own people for at least the last 19months since the world’s focus brought this very tiny controversial nation in the spotlight of international media and equally beamed into our private space of home -fronts.

It would be easy to argue the media could be biased as we know by now is very possible, yet whilst that may be so, it is foolhardy to argue against the overwhelming evidence of human atrocities committed by a government who has ruled over its people with fear.

The challenge of Syria is the fact that it pits the world’s oldest and strongest and emerging economies squarely faced up in UN embrace.  Syria is not merely simply geographically assumed as the centre of the globe, but has become the current stalemate of global politics defined in UN definition.

If we move from the premise that the world leaders claim to agree on a number of things as the recent conversations between President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain claims, the question that needs answering is what informs the gravitas of such agreement?  This at a critical level asks perhaps a rhetorical question, is the suffering of humanity under the Assad administration an agreed  reality? Do the opposing powers defined in West and East cloaks agree on what is happening for the last 18 months in Syria necessitates firstly condemnation and ultimately a unified response?

Recognising the intricate and multiple layered and coloured aggregates of interest for both head-butting UN power- blocks, is it not time to afford human life the central space it without any contest deserves?

If the premise of human life as paramount holds sway and remains principal in the scope of vision for these opposing leaders and nations should that not necessitate a unified response to such abuse? The latter again a rhetorical question for some, yet not as simple as advanced, when personal interest is factored into the equation.

Equally if human life is not held paramount but subservient to a national interest exemplified in economic, military etc. is that the lens through which we must prove cognisant of the current unfolding misery of Syria?

At another level if there is a stalemate in UN – Member opposing powers is it located in what type of a response is warranted?

Clearly the historical Rwandan less talk and made about genocide must communicate something about where the interest of leaders and their nations in UN context remains located. Equally the more recent Libyan question which again raises fundamental questions if the UN proved prudent to arrive at the  correct approach, we may comfortably agree now in hindsight that despite the claimed overthrow of Gaddafi, Libya is not a better place today economically, infra-structurally or in national peace context.  Some of us have warned that the approach in which the AU was rendered a spectator was not the correct one.

Are the objections raised by China and Russia justified, if so why when lives are snuffed out daily and families destroyed at whim?

Is the demand for intervention as proposed by the Western countries legitimate and honest in its rudimentary claim, if so why if the Libyan question is used as our maximum symbol?

How is the position of the Arab-League to be interpreted, or is it is stance even a monolithic one? Is the choice to hold such stance an authentic one or one dictated to by decisions made in historical alliance sense less sensitive for this particular epoch?

Is it vaguely possible that the current stalemate has little to do with anything but a simplistic West and East marred context in which testosterone often dictates the parameters of action? Or is there any need to reflect in Biblical pericope on the significance of Syria if eschatological prophecies are brought into the scope of our horizon?

In the end, can the value of human life again outweigh interest, not for cheap hypocritical reasons but for sense and a future for which we collectively must own up?

This novice’s prayer may sense prevail to arrive at the correct decisions. May sense prevail that the people of Syria, find in the globe a friend to come to its rescue. May sense prevail in the minds of the Assad regime and henchmen, to see this massacre cannot go unabated and is not in Syria’s national interest at all.

May the frivolity of power the insanity of arrogance and the idiocy of stubbornness be dealt a deserving death- blow by those who primarily believe human life is sacrosanct and should never be sacrificed at the false diadem of perennial interest.

Bishop Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

Independent Commentator

Courtesy of “Tradewinds are Blowing” – Political Commentary & Musings –

 (Due October 2012)