Shivambu, Ramaphosa and the anomaly of an ‘exclusive’ Apartheid African Identity

Last week, the subject of an African identity, again involuntarily thrust itself upon our national conscience where two distinct, yet not so inseparable events occurred. One event appeared to be a personal, spur of the moment incident. The second was a long-planned centenary celebrations event that looks like it was crowned with a personal statement. On the face of it, one can conclude that these were isolated events that confirm the different tides in the maelstrom of South Africa.

For some of us who are active in the sphere of identity politics and its anomalies in democracy, last week marked another opportunity to advance an honest debate

Floyd Shivambu, Deputy President of the Economic Freedom Fighters whose demeanour often reflects an obdurate, short-tempered politician and intellectual ripped into the Deputy Director General of Treasury, Ismail Momoniat at a committee meeting in Parliament recently. He accused Momoniat of undermining African leadership.

According to Shivambu, Momoniat is repeatedly showing up at meetings of Parliament’s Standing Committee of Finance to represent Treasury. For Shivambu, the apparent constant presence of Momoniat at these sessions translates to the undermining of African leadership since it appears Treasury lacks Africans to fulfil the role.

For the record, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance previously expressed concerns that the same people show up to brief parliament and the representation fails to reflect the demographics of South Africa hence efforts must be made on the part of Treasury to evidence transformation on this score.

There could, therefore, very well be a case for a claim of a National Treasury overhaul since it is possible that some, over a period of time, may have entrenched themselves as the end-and-be-all of what treasury should reflect.

Shivambu’s claims against Momoniat extends to that of an African leadership role being usurped. Surprisingly, the elites, in responding to Shivambu resorts to the politics of deflection.

While Shivambu, in his typical uncouth style showed his hand and heart, the responses to him came mostly assimilated in what I choose to call – “the politics of deflection” since a crossbreed of former activists, politicians and businesspersons came to the rescue of Momoniat, without seeking to deal with the proverbial elephant in the room, the controversial subject of an exclusive African identity as borrowed from apartheid.

The fundamental issue on Shivambu’s statement on Momoniat remains unanswered. It is the usual embarrassment of the elites that is on display again.

We have seen this before. Remember the so-called xenophobia attacks? They seldom engage the matter at hand but resort to quick fix counter attacks as a means to avoid the real issue at hand.

Enoch Godongwana the ANC Chairperson of the Subcommittee for Economic Affairs in his official response fell into this same trap of defending the person, work-ethic and contributions of Momoniat with the liberation struggle as the epicentre.

Shivambu stood accused of idiocy and was labelled a racist. Those who did not listen to Shivambu failed to hear him within the framework of an exclusive African identity but instead, retorted that his “attack” on Momoniat was absurd, ill-informed and rather nonsensical.

None of those who self-define as black within the ANC told Shivambu in an unequivocal sense, Momoniat is as African as you may ever be.

They could not say that because that would be admitting the contradiction of a ‘black in general and African in particular’ notion premised on degrees of pain as the defining principle. That position has come to define the ANC and government policy over the last 24 years.

Unfortunately, among the political elite, those who self-define with an Indian identity, in typical herd-mentality fashion took umbrage to this ‘cabal’ notion and rather sought to defend an Indian identity when they were supposed to question the illogic of Shivambu and the ANC National Question on an exclusive African identity, clearly a missed opportunity.

We all know the identity configurations of African, ‘Black’, ‘White’ ‘Coloured’ and ‘Indian’ as used during Apartheid hardly had any cultural essence to it but are endemically racist labels depicting a hierarchy of relational powers of oppression.

For the record, the role of Momoniat is not the issue and cannot conveniently be made the central issue. What Shivambu acted out is the power and privilege of an exclusive African identity, which excludes Momoniat.

Ramaphosa tells Afrikanerbond ‘You are Africans, we must accept that’.

Last week, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa the ever-smiling, media-sensitive, translucent salesman of a new-dawn campaign delivered the keynote address at the centenary celebrations of the Afrikanerbond formerly the Broederbond.

Remember that clandestine white male exclusive club notorious for its grip on the politics and economy of apartheid South Africa?

Ramaphosa in my assessment delivered a very well-balanced speech, in which he took his host on a historical journey that shows the reality of race centred inequality. He challenged them to engage the land question instead of seeing it as a threat.

However, Ramaphosa also said: “You are Africans, and we must accept that”. This makes the debate on the exclusive African identity as acted out by Shivambu a very interesting one in this season.

When Ramaphosa says; “you are Africans”, it can either mean that the claim as advanced by many from the Afrikaner group finally reached his ears. Or did Ramaphosa use the opportunity to remind those who claim an Afrikaner identity (a relatively young concept for Afrikaans speaking white identity) that they are exactly what they never wanted to be named African as projected by them?

We know apartheid’s benefactors who contested an Anglo-Boer war and are in constant attempt of reinventing themselves, evidently long ago realised their choice definition for those they had targeted in the aim of exacting the worst abuse of racist white power dominance came back to bite them since it only alienated them.

They have been yearning to hear they are Africans though not in the myopic and racialist dehumanised sense of what they categorised a group since 1948.

When Ramaphosa says; ‘and we must accept that’, is he begrudgingly conceding defeat to the Afrikaner claim to an African identity? Is it a rude awakening or is it a matter of finally permitting sense to prevail? Did Ramaphosa break with ANC identity politics and policy?

Did the Ramaphosa, one-liner redefine the subject of identity politics for a post-apartheid South Africa since he broke with the traditional stance hitherto upheld of ‘black’ and ‘African’ distinctions?

We are not yet sure what to make of Ramaphosa’s statement. Is this ANC policy, or is it new-dawn policy? On another level was Ramaphosa the politician courting votes or was he just engaging in political banter?

The jury remains out on the issue and we have not yet heard from Luthuli house as to the statement of its president on the African identity subject matter since it warrants unpacking for its meaning in the ANC and its policy footprint.

We warrant knowing if this statement which he delivered to the applause of the Afrikanerbond members, is the new thinking in the ANC? What are the implications of his statement? Was Ramaphosa inadvertently answering Shivambu who does not share the notion of an African unless it is in apartheid description?

Does this signal the break with the propagators for a hegemonic thinking around a National Question era of identity politics that has gripped while it choked on with empty non-racial rhetoric? How will this shape Government Policy of redress as SA moves forward?

The irony of what transpired last week was that Shivambu from the EFF articulated ANC policy as it relates to its accepted National Question identity politics when the ANC and SA President Ramaphosa in his address broke with that same ANC policy with his announcement of an African identity for Afrikaners.

Momoniat is as African as Shivambu may ever hope to be not because he was in the liberation struggle, not because he is a respected civil servant and neither because Ramaphosa told Afrikaners they are African, but due the fact that any time one seeks to use Africa for more than direction and geographical position you run the risk of choking in your own assumptions.

We are all African when we consciously dispense of the apartheid frame of what constitutes an African.

Clyde N.S Ramalaine

Political Commentator & Writer



Mkhwebane will be taken down by a proverbial DA bullet fired by the ANC

Is the public protector on borrowed time? The long-standing public discomfort that the Democratic Alliance (DA) expressed, is now a full-blown war declared against Advocate Busi Mkhwebane.


The DA, supported by some opposition parties, seeks to have Parliament remove Mkhwebane from public office even if it means violating the principle of democracy.  It seeks to do so with claims of her incompetency, assisted by a court ruling against her.


Mkhwebane was never the DA’s choice for the public protector’s office. It never afforded her the necessary space and time to come into her own right.  It also continued to accuse her of bias to its public-enemy-number-one, former President Jacob Zuma. The so-called respect it had for her predecessor never manifested. The DA’s fight against this Chapter 9 Institution office holder intensified with her findings on ABSA and the South African Reserve Bank.


Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Mathole Motshekga this week admitted, There is currently no basis for Parliament to say we have a public protector that is not fit to hold office.  The committee led by this claim of its chairperson decided to afford the public protector an opportunity to respond to the DA’s submission against her fitness to hold office.

While the DA appears to have lost this round, its plan will ultimately succeed. Hardly because she is unfit, nor because she has committed a crime, but due to the fact that the DA continues to exert control over spaces it has little to show for in terms of voting mandate. It will succeed because the ANC in parliament’s context is preoccupied with corruption, defined in Zuma’s presidency, and anything else is not a priority.


What then is the ardent crime Mkhwebane may have committed? Contrary to what we have heard, Mkhwebane’s crime is her refusal to let the public protector’s office be a political office and player in the daily party-political jabs the opposition has come to use as a strategy to secure governance power.  Mkhwebane committed the unpardonable sin of finding against the DA’s Helen Zille for her irresponsible tweets on colonialism.  Advocate Mkhwebane summed up her claim with these words“…So I think that perception that you cannot find against a certain person… I don’t think we should encourage that sort of behaviour as a country. I think we need to make sure that we respect the law if there is a complaint against them.”

As far as the DA and its chief-whip John Steenhuizen is concerned, Advocate Mkhwebane is guilty as charged and deserves no right to be heard, the ongoing agony of so many black executives in South Africa that are guilty in the court of media opinion. From that exacted guilty verdict, the justice committee, therefore, must act and recommend to Parliament to have her shown the door.

When Mkhwebane is fired it will be less for any incompetence or even the findings of a court order she has appealed. We also know courts in the daily sense rule on matters and those ruled against as jurist are seldom considered incompetent or actively engaging in misconduct. Mkwhebane will be fired because the DA continues to act as the real political power, ascribing itself the inalienable right to know what and who is good for South Africa. It does so by controlling the cudgels of discourse, a space the where the ANC is absent and evidently has no time and energy to be a part of.  It is too busy fighting capital-sponsored personal fights at an organisational level to be leading a discussion as to how disingenuous the DA’s claim against Advocate Mkhwebane is.


The DA’s crafted narrative, borne out in many instances, of seeking blacks removed from high office is anchored in its fundamental conviction that blacks are not fit to lead. Its campaign of declaring blacks unfit continues to claim victories and the public protector will ultimately be a part of that statistic.


On the surface, it looks like the DA ’s focus is on proving individuals incompetent as a means to demand the best for SA, however the essential issue is its drive to prove the apartheid black identity incompetent as a general rule. For the record, the DA has never questioned anyone to whom apartheid extended a white identity. No one in any office of government or state-owned enterprise.


It has not done so in the general sense or even in an ANC sense. As much as the DA may abhor the ANC it will never question a white minister or deputy minister or any ANC-appointed white CEO. It cannot find whites incompetent, because that would derail its earlier stated overarching agenda.


The blacks the DA want in office must be blacks approved by the DA. The DA would have behaved exactly the same towards Mkhwebane’s predecessor had she not been prepared to listen to them, afford them space until her cases adopted the focus and central aim of the DA led-narrative of a corrupt ANC and SA president.


Lindiwe Mazibuko was a good black for as long as she shouted “Zuma must go”. When she began to question the ideological thrust of the DA on employment equity she became a problem. Mmusi Maimane was celebrated as the Obama of South Africa when he told Parliament about a broken president Zuma. The moment he sobered up and began to see white privilege as inseparable to black poverty he was questioned.


Advocate Thuli Madonsela, the former public protector, became for the DA a deity because in its understanding she was a good black, who worked with and for the DA agenda. She never in an unequivocal sense challenged the DA for playing political games.


Why then would Mkhwebane ultimately be shown the door?  The ANC in this season is super-sensitive to what the media has to say. We know the media is credited and praised for unveiling of the extent of state capture. The ANC often takes its line of direction from what the media directs.  With an eye on a national election earmarked for 2019, and its new drive to deal with corruption, Mkhwebane will fall as part of a new public relations clean-up exercise. A drive to rid the public office of anything remotely associated with former President Jacob Zuma – which is for some is the be-and-end-all of corruption in the ANC.


The DA’s strategy and campaign to prove black people incompetent is a meticulous and sophisticated campaign that really seeks to direct government appointments when it does not officially govern as trusted by the ballot.  It has over time managed to get the ANC to doubt itself and play second fiddle.


The sad reality is the ANC is caught up in battles of comrades destroying one another at an individual level and blinded to what is really happening. Also, factions in the ANC have decided that they are the real ANC, and above reproach, and that their opponents are corrupt to the core.  They use this DA-led campaign and agenda to fight one another in the name of ANC renewal, in the name of who can save the ANC and claim a messianic role for this era.

South Africa’s fourth public protector, Advocate Mkhwebane, will proverbially be downed by a political stray bullet fired from a DA weapon. The trigger will be pulled by a media-swayed ANC in Parliament.

Clyde Ramalaine

Political Commentator 


Msimang’s CITY PRESS letter perpetuates disunity and factionalism in the ANC.


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

20/ 6/2018