Mavuso Msimang recently published a letter in the City Press, addressed to former President Jacob Zuma. Msimang, the former MK high-command member, later board member of among others Grintek, Massmart, Exxaro and the SA Tourism, is considered by some an honourable veteran while others see him as the signpost of ANC factionalism.
Msimang’s letter is a toxic combo of choked praise, public rebuke, a guilty verdict on corruption and state capture dovetailed with an attempt at a lecture on ethnic nationalism in a historical Natal warning. His public letter is admittedly not his exclusively since he invokes a group he defines as “many of our comrades who have been watching your most recent activities”. His choice of words, “I offer you my best wishes for a long a healthy, happy life” fails to mask a sardonic one-dimensional vituperative pen.
This is not his first open attack on former president Zuma. His letter stands in a known tradition of public opinion pieces better understood as forming part of a factional fight. If Msimang is honest he will at least admit he has personally shown little regard or restraint and his litany of public opinion pieces can hardly stand as wise objective counsel of an ANC veteran that has the interest of the ANC at heart.
Msimang tells former president Zuma: “I would like to respectfully remind you that, when Judge Hillary Squires delivered his verdict in the trial of Shabir Shaik, he said there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ of a corrupt relationship between Shaik and yourself. Shaik appealed the verdict in the Supreme Court of Appeal but lost”.
Msimang continues to peddle this long-dispelled lie. Maybe Msimang must hear Judge Squires in his own words to Business Day in November of 2006: “If you have never read the judgment delivered in that case, may I suggest that you do so. I can find no such mention of my having made any such comment.
“If you have already read the judgment, and in it this phrase ‘a generally corrupt relationship,’ occurs I, would be grateful if you would advise me of the page and line number in which the statement appears,” Squires wrote to the newspaper.
Msimang’s superior logic for a guilty verdict of corruption against Zuma is based on this repeated sophism Squires himself long ago debunked.
May we also remind Msimang that he did not once in the 13 years of another peddled lie of 783 charges against Zuma try and dispel that as a myth too. He was silent when an ANC president continued to be declared guilty after being acquitted of a rape charge. His silence confirms him as one of those who continue to believe the narrative of guilt despite a court’s verdict otherwise. Msimang was also absent in comment to challenge the false claim of corruption regarding Nkandla, when the public protector and Constitutional Court found no corruption on the part of the president.
Ensconced in this accusation of Msimang is a spirited defence of what he calls “conscientious professionals” including the names of Mcebisi Jonas and Pravin Gordhan. It is always interesting how Msimang can practice an ambivalent ethic, by disregarding a multiplicity of claims leveled against Jonas, from an Eastern Cape Development Corporation Board corruption accusation to the Mandela funeral funds mismanagement. For Msimang, the public knowledge of this information does not demand a case to be answered by Jonas. He will forgive us to conclude it is only a factional mind that can entertain such double standards for corruption allegations.
Msimang in his letter continues to assume his role as prosecutor, laying out a case for state capture against Zuma. We must accept Msimang will lay out his case before Judge Raymond Zondo when the latter and his team finally sit down to hear evidence in the state capture commission.
Msimang indirectly tells us there is no need for any commission. He has in a few simple lines and superior logic proved state capture as real with President Zuma as the kingpin. He tells us that the Hawks and NPA in their pursuit of making their case should not struggle to find evidence of state capture.
Interestingly Msimang does not allow the principle of innocent until proven guilty in a court of the law to stand. This worldwide democratic principle easily claimed for others is denied in this instance because it is Zuma. This is nothing but the arrogance of factionalism on display. Msimang the graduate finds it not odd that the efforts of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in three recent instances against the Guptas dismally failed to convince courts of its ability to prove successful in presenting evidence for state capture.
His last accusation and warning finds Zuma guilty of tribalism and fuelling ethnic tension. Perhaps more challenging is Msimang’s assumption that the ANC is not long destabilised. We must remind Msimang the ANC was long destabilised and plunged into disunity when some refused to accept the 2007 conference outcomes. The ANC has lived for the better part of the democratic sojourn in disunity and factionalism. It is only a factional mind who in armchair analysis will direct this in blame to Jacob Zuma. Msimang and his invoked ‘many’ must own up to their role in this organisational disunity which now threatens to become the identity of the ANC in democracy.
The veteran, unfortunately, forgets how in a time when his factional group demanded a consultative conference – which was denied – lodged a personal attack on the then-Secretary General of the ANC Gwede Mantashe, accusing him of doublespeak. Aziz Pahad had to caution the group of veterans over their disrespect towards an elected ANC leadership.
Fundamental to this segment of veterans as shown in their actions, behaviour and utterances over a period of time is the confirmation that they essentially want to be heard and are not willing to listen to others. They appear inebriated with a form of megalomania, seeing themselves as the epicentre of a functional ANC. Central to Msimang’s epistemology on the ANC and ANC-led government is how indispensable they as individuals are, hence they must lead the self-correcting of the ANC.
Unfortunately, Msimang belongs to a group of veterans who never respected the post- Polokwane ANC leadership. They detested and abhorred a democratically elected ANC president. Msimang makes up those for whom objectivity on Zuma is a dreaded disease. They depict a brand of veterans that have scant regard for the ANC branches, leagues and structures.
Msimang’s letter does not remotely inspire any attempt at uniting the ANC. At best it affords another opportunity for Msimang to ventilate his factional views on Zuma. At worst it is evidence of gross immaturity on display from a veteran who fails to see the bigger picture – a need to work for unity.
Can Msimang please respect the many ANC members and supporters who disagree with his verdict on the former ANC president?
Clyde N.S. Ramalaine