–plotting against any elected ANC official with aim of removal remains wrong, be it a president or secretary general functionary-
The role of the media in South African politics with the ANC as its epicentre cannot be overstated. If we today have ‘state capture’ or ‘secret meetings’ claims bandied around in certainty of persuasion less in evidence but anchored in sentiment, it can directly be attributed to intimate relations between political personalities and a lusty media.
Yet, it is also not a complete picture to end there, peeling the layers in search for a better understanding of the media on these two respective matters lead us to a discovery we perhaps didn’t want to make. That being, a group that does not exclude some who in apartheid sense were agents and today are paraded as celebrated moralists. Also, not excluded from this group in the media, may I add, is a segment of essentially women journalists who at some point in their individual and or collective careers have been on the side of those they today appear to seek to destroy at +every turn with their claims through an access of media as weaponry.
Twisted relationships, friendships some intimate between journalists and politicians are an age-old thing. Apartheid’s known project, Stratcom evidence the symbiotic relationship shared by both media and political interests. In SA we also know of this since this increasingly extends to some leaders of organised labour and political party definitions in which among others the ANC, COSATU and the SACP are not exempted.
The challenge we must contend with remains, have we reached a place where this tiny segment of journalists dictates the daily politics from personal deep-seated scorn over what happened at a personal level and setting. As already concluded the paucity of politics as led by the ANC has provided an opportunity for the personal agenda of journalists to direct the landscape of SA discourse. On another score, are these journalists mere tools used by sophisticated political interest to wage proxy wars in zones of public space where they are handsomely rewarded? Has South African discourse become controlled and dictated to by past intimate relations and to what extent have these journalists been active in dictating to ANC leadership their utterances?
We know this pollution of cross-border relationships between the political and the media immanent in agreed pact by some as EFF leader Julius Malema recently confessed of himself and Ranjeni Munusamy on removing Jacob Zuma. This is a classic example of how common interests can violate and abuse the profession of ethical journalism reducing it to an orchestrated vendetta-driven-machinery of pure interest where the rules favour those who have the platforms to denigrate others while celebrating those they may benefit from at essentially an economic level.
On Monday elected ANC President and SA caretaker, Ramaphosa addressed the COSATU Congress that was about to elect a new leadership. For the first time in a very long period, the entire ANC Top 6 leadership attended together. We know that COSATU is vocal for its claims of ‘state capture’ and more recently its demand on action against those who stand accused of having engaged in ‘secret meetings’ to oust Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa is silent on many things among others, our request for him to speak on the Bird Island Boys scandal, which he hitherto has remained ominously silent about. He is silent on the subject of true economic redress in line with ANC adopted resolutions, I am not yet engaging his temporal relief rescue deal, we will engage that shortly. Ramaphosa continues his double- speaking on land and appears to navigate his way around what white monopoly capital have come to define as radical and populistic ANC adopted policies that scare investors from seeing SA as worthwhile investment soil.
Notwithstanding that, Ramaphosa appears to have used his presence at COSATU, his historical constituency base to take wild but direct swipes at his own Secretary General Ace Magashule. Let us hear Ramaphosa in his own words., “Those who want to divide the ANC, what agenda are they serving? Because coming out of Nasrec, we all held one agenda of unity, renewal, jobs and transforming our economy. So, if you are going to divide the ANC tell us what your agenda is,” Ramaphosa accused those who met, as having done so in the claim of some “meeting in dark corners” and plot to divide the ANC of being counter-revolutionaries. “Comrades, this is a call for unity. And those who are engaging in acts to disunite our people and divide our people must be exposed,” he added.
With this statement in the heartland of his constituency, Ramaphosa ventured to entertain a salacious topic, abandoning reason and the espoused interest of the unity he in the same breath prognosticates for populistic rhetoric and being in control of a media-led initiative. It became his space to serve a volley of shots necessitating a response which was to be returned by a Secretary-General, Ace Magashule who from the bedrock of his 25 year-long of the Free State province will not be going down in the silence of the night. Magashule too went to his home-based Mangaung constituency, this time it was a youth event of COSAS. There he would make known his mind and heart on the actions of Ramaphosa as displayed at a COSATU rally.
Well, what happened at COSATU was an ANC president throwing his secretary general for his convenient wolves, he went there to politically annihilate a nemesis, someone he never appreciated because Magashule was not part of his ‘winning team’ that he in a break with ANC culture and traditions dared to announce months before the conference. Ramaphosa fed Magashule and he knew it because as he spoke his pack of wolves were shouting…. AAAACCCCCEEEE… in reference to Magashule, whom Ramaphosa deliberately sought to embarrass.
The ANC president failed to protect his leadership but was willing to sacrifice him to the lowest bidder, ready to proverbially deliver his secretary general’s head on a silver platter to those who have to bid for his political life. In a strange recurrence of a repeat of proverbial Marikana tragedy, Ramaphosa knowing a better path consciously opted to be this callous and less circumspect to appreciate what his actions would have in impact on the ANC.
Ramaphosa misled by the venom his constituency decided to abandon the sense of leadership for unity and fell hook-line-and-sinker for an audience that in all probability forced him to lose his composure and be reduce to the one-minute politics in defiance of being the one who was elected to lead the ANC in unity. Ramaphosa had been here before when he was one of those accused of plotting to overthrow a Thabo Mbeki presidency in 2001. He knows from where those claims emanated and what the prevailing internal political climate was at the time. He, therefore, with such historical information may have had access, as in the case of Marikana, to a better toolbox from which he may have opted to deal with these claims of ‘secret meetings’ which he rephrased as, “meeting in dark corners.” He knew that the meetings took place in public spaces (Maharani Hotel lobby and Beverley Hills veranda) and that the claim of a ‘secret meeting’ is and remains a sophism but he needed to suck on the joystick of this moment in front of his constituency base flexing his political power muscle.
Secretary-General Ace Magashule, in addressing the COSAS gathering in the Free State, therefore, responded to Ramaphosa’s open attack and would not back down. He made it clear that Ramaphosa with his attack was first attacking an ANC leader. Never before has a secretary-general been so clear on a president he was serving. While former SG’s may have expressed their private views on presidents they served, Magashule told Ramaphosa in an unequivocal sense, you and your CR17 hardliner crowd will not prevent me from meeting a former president. His choice of words significant, “Let me tell you, nobody can stop me from meeting President Jacob Zuma. I will even invite President Jacob Zuma to come and talk to you as students”
Magashule continued, “There is no ANC leadership which I am part of, that is going to stop me and many others from meeting president Jacob Zuma”. He asserted, “Nobody will take me out of this ANC, nobody.” With this Magashule underscored the important role and significant place former President Zuma holds in ANC setting despite attempts to reduce him in political expediency to a pariah state of leprosy because some in their fears and media invented ‘state capture’ coupled with ‘secret meeting plots’ prove gullible to earn public sympathy by playing the victim.
What Magashule next said, is more scathing and more blood-curdling, he ventured to draw a distinction between himself and Ramaphosa in ANC original sense. It is a given that Ramaphosa owes his public life and later political presence to the mind, heart and hand of white monopoly capital if we accept his emergence in 1978 as adopted one by the Urban Foundation. Magashule would have known, the words of Clive Menell’s spouse, Irene who as recorded in Anthony Butler’s biography on Ramaphosa, said Ramaphosa was brought into the Urban Foundation as a ‘charity gesture’.
Ramaphosa from his Urban Foundation umwelt, therefore, owes his public life to white capital interests since we also know it was Harry Oppenheimer who envisioned a UF, while Anton Rupert had the honour of defining the UF in strategic ethos. Calling Ramaphosa a product of white capital interest is driving a jagged-edged dagger into the heart and twisting it for maximum impact, clearly a very angry Magashule. He with this becomes the first high ranking ANC official and member of the ANC to tell Ramaphosa you not authentically ANC, you don’t belong to the ANC you are a product of white interest, that is your known history Magashule dovetailed this in reference to himself as juxtaposed to Ramaphosa,
“I am not the product of a white person. I am not a product of capital”. He thus seizes the moment to claim himself as a member of the ANC produced by the ANC and thus a product of the ANC, unlike Ramaphosa.
Why then would Ramaphosa take the media inspired so-called ‘secret meeting’ so serious though he appeared to have attempted to downplay it?
Ramaphosa remains an ANC president that is confronted with the reality of an ANC that may stumble for the first time in reaching the proverbial and psychological 62% margin his predecessors since Mandela to Zuma comfortably attained and maintained throughout the life of democracy. He is confronted by a significant portion of ANC members and leaders who did not trust him to lead and continues not to trust him. While many at first glance wanted to make NASREC a battle of CR and NDZ camps contest, a better way to look at it remains the battle between the forces of capital and the actual poor that has come to describe and define the ANC in a totality of its existence in this epoch. Nasrec became the struggle between white privilege and black economic denial. What cannot be denied is that Ramaphosa’s rise to the ANC leadership comes with flame grilled peri-peri white monopoly capital spice. While the most recent published most IPSOS survey (a useful tool that forces peoples thinking) extends him a personal popularity of 72% over the ANC’s 60% it cannot be seen as a final word on what is really happening in the ANC when it comes to the division of white capital and the economically disenfranchised poor.
From this, it is crystal clear that the ANC as led by Ramaphosa continues to lead a deeply divided organisation and one increasingly as warned by Oliver Tambo teetering with ‘self-destruction’ if the two fundamental positions of its president and secretary general offices are at war with each other. For the last known 25 years of the ANC in democracy seldom have the lines so clearly been drawn and the divide so emphatically clear. The last time we saw a secretary general resign was Ramaphosa himself when he bitter with not be considered fit to accompany Mandela to a deputy president post, stepped down in 1996.
What then is at stake as an immediate focus?
The critical aspect at stake is the ANC list finalisation, the balance of forces in an ANC setting has always subjected itself to the use of this cardinal aspect to determine the actual lay of the land in support for or against. This critical aspect usually managed and led if not controlled by the office of the secretary-general is in this season the prize position, it appears the CR 17 hardliner group has smelled blood and will seek to hound Magashule from his elected office, incidentally something not considered a plot. They seek to solidify their control over the ANC at an internal level where Magashule in his current position stands as the last frontier.
A tale of secret meetings since Nasrec 2017, have come to define the ANC leadership. Not having won the contest of presidential elections in the outright convincing sense, it is visiting in ghost form of taunting the current ANC president. The margins of 179 votes that separated him from his contender has after nine months not dissipated. Equally so the even tinier margin by which Magashule became secretary-general a mere 24 votes is also not relenting for those who never wanted him in that position. The strategy to bulwark and upstage the secretary-general’s office was the beefing up of the presidential office at the Luthuli Head Office.
While the contest is easily drawn between two personalities of a Ramaphosa and Magashule, we will miss the bigger picture that of a contest between capital and the poor, what some have dubbed as the Bidvest ANC versus the Gupta ANC. A tale of ANC policies versus a cremora-lite version of double-speaking. The survival of an ANC organisation needs the cooperation and working together of these two offices with clear boundaries. While Ramaphosa remains thrust in legitimacy crisis for those who didn’t trust him to lead the ANC which made up a significant chunk. Magashule is also abhorred by those of the Ramaphosa camp who see him as a problem and the next one to hang to dry after forcing Jacob Zuma and Supra Mahumapelo.
Was Ramaphosa, wrong for referring to the Maharani and Beverley Hills Hotels meetings as “meeting in dark corners”? Yes, he was, we all know as I already opined in another piece earlier that the claims of a ‘secret meeting’ in a public space simply do not corroborate. We know that the term ‘secret meeting’ was not even concocted in origin by any ANC leader but a questionable journalist Sunday Times journalist, Qaanitha Hunter, who herself in the aftermath of her exposition was exposed for her past and cosy association with Atul Gupta and the New Age newspapers which she left angrily for not being appointed as its deputy editor when she demanded to earn more than others. We also know that Ramaphosa’s ‘meetings in dark corner’ claims feed of the media led narrative of ‘angels ‘and ‘demons’, those who make up his dark corners crowd, are necessarily following the scripted media line of ‘demons’. I am afraid Ramaphosa knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it.
It was, therefore, irresponsible for the ANC president to fall for the claims of a ‘secret meeting’ unless the president so relies upon, or is in cahoots with these expressions of the selected media for a means to deal with his organisational leadership legitimacy challenges. Why then would Ramaphosa be this irresponsible? It is a game of high stakes and time is not favourable to his leadership. On a daily basis, the window of opportunity for CR 17 hardliners to convince those whom they in the aftermath of Zuma resignation squeezed out and side-lined is closing to take control of the ANC, to engender true unity, or to convince others that they can be trusted to deliver unity. In order for these known hardliners to secure full control (whatever that means), they have in their wisdom resolved to get the elected secretary general Ace Magashule out.
They have worked meticulously on that plan. The plan is clear Magashule is a problem and not working in the interest of those I would refer to as the undying CR17 hardliner supporters who include Ministers like Pravin Gordhan publicly accused by among others the DSG of the ANC Jessie Duarte as sitting behind a plot to have her and others who were Zuma sympathetic removed, purged and exposed with state capture claims as a politically expedient means. It means Magashule will face a drummed-up SACP and Cosatu led the disciplinary hearing, yet I ask why is Ramaphosa not facing a disciplinary hearing too.
Ramaphosa, with this statement at COSATU, may have read the balance of forces at an internal level as shifting towards his side, buoyed by the idea he was going to announce on Thursday a government initiated economic rescue package. The idea of being seen to saving SA in an economic rescue package though aesthetic and very temporal may have been part of his arsenal for coming at the elected ANC secretary-general. Magashule on a pre-planned drummed up theatre of a COSATU elective conference. When former Cosatu president, Sdumo Dlamini was interviewed on the subject of a secret plot to oust Ramaphosa, he had more wisdom to publicly laugh at the reporter, perhaps thinking are you not understanding this as part of a lame public relations job aimed at harvesting sympathy for an incumbent.
It is clear that the lines have been drawn, and pretending it has not been drawn is to fool oneself. The ANC unity that was propagated from the voting at Nasrec and pleaded for in the aftermath of the outcomes of the conference, appears a long-forgotten past.
The unfolding days and weeks purport to be very interesting particularly since Ramaphosa already stands accused of playing the man and not the ball. He is already called out for his double-standards of questionable morality as it relates to an organisation and its leaders on corruption claims. As is asserted in for example the weekly Mail & Guardian that accuses him of an ambivalent ethic when he is silent on some of his key supporters like Chairperson and Minister Gwede Mantashe and Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla who are fingered in BOSASA corruption when he is obsessed to want to listen to questionable scorned journalists leading a media narrative of ‘secret meetings’ from the bedrock of their personal displeasure with deals that have gone wrong. In the case of Makwetla, very vocal in condemning of Zuma, it gets even worse because he admitted he received a bribe of R1million which he kept for six weeks before developing a conscience to take the money back. This again exposes Ramaphosa in a farcical leader sense again as more concerned about his personal self-interest and political survival, something his days from UF, CUSA and COSATU later ANC SG days became notorious for. It is an open secret that Bosasa directors offered to make many ANC MPs millionaires. I this what happened to Vincent Smith?
Something will give and only time will tell but those on both sides of the NASREC presidential divide are today more emboldened, the lines are harder and the risks more pronounced. The ANC is and remains a toxically divided organisation and do not have the luxury of uniting before May 2019 a time schedule for South Africa’s sixth national elections.
What must remain as undeniable, is that a plot against an elected organisational president or its secretary general attest the same crime and one cannot be preferred to the other in blurred aesthetics of kaftans of an SA president as super important. If we too condemn the media created ‘secret meetings’ of those Ramaphosa call meeting in ‘dark corners’ can we also condemn the ‘secret meetings’ to plot against Magashule for his removal? Don’t be misled by a caretaker SA president’s role, see the wrong at an ANC organisational level where its most senior incumbents are subjects of alleged plots real or fake.