Entertaining sensational reporting only fuels political and economic instability!
Please stop making office bearers messiahs!
The Sunday Times of the last two weeks carried very eye-catching, salacious and yet very precarious headlines. Two weeks ago it led with “someone is trying to kill me” accredited to the public protector Thuli Madonsela. This past Sunday it had “an imminent arrest of Gordhan” – the finance minister.
As things stand now the Madonsela murder plot has no substance. The informer whom it was reported Madonsela trusted implicitly is shown to be unreliable and known for manufacturing stories. The Gordhan arrest equally has no base; it’s done on a hunch of informants who claim they know the ANC internal politics better. The associate editor of the Daily Maverick, Ranjeni Munusamy is held up as a self-anointed guru of ANC internal squabbles and how this impacts the state of governance in SA.
One can draw parallels between the publicized reports of a public protector and the finance minister the one under threat for her life and the one for imminent arrest. These are two people key in our society who equally are soft targets to fuel chasms that perhaps supports a political agenda driven by an unseen hand as it plays out in our media. These reports are regurgitated as truth and are repeated by journalists, analysts and opinion makers across a wide spectrum.
The public protector no different to the minister of finance for doing her work became for some a political entity to be abused to wage political campaigns.
The challenge for the public protector was not her ineptitude of law and her office but perhaps her personality to allow her office to be questioned through perhaps unfortunate statements, blamed leaks and claims levelled against her behaviour.
What is indisputable is that uncertainty in regard to her reports in remedial action was for both her predecessors and the majority of South Africans including those in the judiciary a reality until the constitutional court ruled on the Nkandla matter. We all can with certainty today accept that her findings are not beyond reproach as binding in and of itself but may ONLY be challenged in tested and reviewed in a court of a law.
Yet a personality-cult emerged that portended to own the incumbent as diametrically opposed to what is deemed for some an illegitimate government. I had said in my critique of the current incumbent, she should have equally rebuked opposition parties who attempted to give her a political identity in opposition to the State. We will recall how some became defenders of the public protector and even called her the next president of South Africa.
We are back here because South Africans it appears are held hostage with the search for a messiah, one with a magic wand – the skew legacy of an iconic Mandela.
Our media in status of lone ranger has since December 2015 made Pravin Gordhan the individual the answer to our economic woes. In an earlier article published I lamented this erroneous need to make messiahs of those mandated to serve. Gordhan has overnight become an endangered species that must be protected against a villain State. In this narrative he gets the credit if the economy performs and the rand US dollar rate improves. He is however strangely exonerated if the opposite occurs.
Gordhan who is in his second coming in this office was not necessarily praised for the SA economy under his stewardship. There was widespread dissatisfaction on the structural aspects of our economy, which remains to this day. Granted these structural disparities are not of his making but perhaps a bipolar-nature of flaw in the ANC economic policy as a practiced reality.
There was outright condemnation from opposition parties on his performance as it relates to job creation, true empowerment etc. Tripartite alliance partners also were unsettled that Gordhan continued with the same trajectory of his predecessor and proved hardnosed on some aspects that they consider stumbling blocks for their aims.
We must ask what sits behind these orchestrated headlines and news reports? We must ask what agenda is being pushed? We must ask why some journalists exercise carte blanche a right to publish what can be deemed soap opera reports. They engage in drama reporting which have grave ramifications for South Africa.
It is the same media that tells us one minute how strong and bold Gordhan is, they tell us “Gordhan fights back”. They tell us he made this remark in direct aim of the president.
The next minute we must hear how emotional Gordhan is with a threat of an imminent arrest hanging over his head.
In a hypothetical sense let us for a minute assume that responding to the 27 questions, which had its own drama, resulted in evidence for further or an actual case to be answered. Should we assume Gordhan be given automatic indemnity because he holds the office of finance minister in a challenging time when politically orchestrated rating agencies full of moods and poor of equality of standards threatens a junk status down grade?
The same media tells us Gordhan asks for protection from us as citizenry. We hear Gordhan lament and protest his innocence. We the public still do not know why our finance minister is protesting his innocence because we see no case against him. Gordhan, at the time of the 27 questions exercised his democratic right to engage legal counsel. He also this season equally instructs attorneys to enquire from the Hawks and the NPA.
Perhaps what is missed is where innocence or guilt is tested in a democracy if not the courts? Our justice system is buoyant we know it from the Al Bashir case, we saw it in the Constitutional Court hearings on Nkandla, we experienced it when the Northrand Court ruled former NPA director Mokotedi Mpshe’s actions as irresponsible, yes we saw it with the Please call me case when the Concourt ruled in favour of the minion Makate against the mighty Vodacom.
If there is any claimed prima facie evidence for a case against Gordhan our justice system facilitated by the necessary courts with its track record ought to vindicate the minister. Any arrest in a constitutional democracy has a format.
My unsolicited advice again to the honourable minister of finance:
- Sir, please get on with the job you were assigned in equality to all other honourable ministers.
- Please desist being made a political or economic messiah by the very ones who did not trust you in your first term. The same who attempted to make the public protector a political player and saw to it that the office of this very important Chapter 9 institution appears compromised from within and without.
- Kindly do not fall for the easy ride of assuming the story of you being a victim against a villain who is unseen somewhere and that you are in potential presidential contest.
- Be cautious not to be seen as speaking on behalf of some even in the ANC regardless how camped.
- Since you have complied in answering the 27 questions permit the institution that requested you to comply make its case if there is a case. You owe it no explanation to defend your innocence outside what was asked of you. Let your integrity stand and allow the courts to validate the person who you always have been as those who share with you a history know you to be.
- Be careful as to who’s advise you listen to, at times even those whom one hold in high regard politically can be errant. Your predecessor is on record for having said if he were in your shoes with the issue of a SARS commissioner he would have fired the commissioner. You have since learnt that his advise is not helpful for it generates a perception of a finance minister that is self-appointed. You have since learnt regardless the differences with a SARS Commissioner are not important because both of you are to perform in your designated spaces. The same South Africa can attest you both have excelled.
- The public spats confused for transparency, between the ministry and the SOE’s leadership is not helpful for it engenders more instability. One assumes there are correct platforms and means to address these.
- Do not take easy comfort in a media that seeks to glorify you at the expense of a Movement that trusted you to serve in leadership. A media that berates your organisation who has no desire to take up its necessary role to work for the transformation of a South African society.
- Do not get drawn into these personality cult sensational reporting of some in the media who has an opposite vision to your mandate.
I ask again in whose interest are these news reports generated? Reports that has no foundation yet is publicised on the front page of the Sunday times as fact.
It is perhaps only right to comfortably assume those who peddle these reports do so with an agenda of threatening our political and economic stability. Is it not time the so-called experts on ANC internal politics who publish at whim be taken to task for their agenda. An agenda that pretends to care about South Africa but in reality desires political and economic instability.
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
A concerned citizen of South Africa