Willemse in naked sense reminds SA of its ‘black quota player’ notion advanced by apartheid-era players labels?

– South Africa is a society replete with ‘quota players’, just check your industry and you will hear apartheid benefactors talking about you as a ‘quota player’ –

Rosa Parks the black American civil rights leader who became famous for refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated Montgomery, Alabama bus, which spurred on the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott that helped launch nationwide efforts to end segregation of public facilities, responded to this demand with the words “… my feets [sic] are tired…”

In the aftermath of Ashwin Willemse, former SA player and now Supersport rugby analyst sharing his views before he left the studio in full view and with the explicit intent of showing his disgust, as always South Africa is a flood with views and the social media runs wild articulating the binaries of black and white commentary. In a sense, Willemse emulated what American Rosa Parks stood for. We not sure if his revolt against a system of white rugby dictate will ever birth a true boycott that may realize true transformation.

I am not sure why we are all attempting to take refuge in a claimed Supersport investigation which apparently would give us all the facts which we are told will explain what happened on Saturday. As in the case of Parks, all we have are the words of Ashwin Willemse on the night in question.

Perhaps we should look at this and attempt to hear him. Willemse’s two statements cut through the reality of our endemic SA problem, a problem understood and stubbornly anchored in the demon of race. If we know of Parks today it’s for the massive bus revolt birthed and less for her grammatical error of the word feet. I wish to postulate we may just remember Willemse less for the brilliant and deserving wing he was, nor for his analysis often in broken English equal to his colleague Naas Botha, neither for the fact that he has made the Dean’s list to be a Masters student. A mean feat for someone from the backstreets of a Caledon apartheid Coloured Township that duped him into gangsterism. Willemse’s biggest contribution to rugby may just have been what he said on Saturday night.

Let us then hear Willemse in his own words: “I’ve played this game for a long time, like all of us here, you know. And as a player I was labeled a quota player for a long time … and I’ve worked hard to earn my own respect in this game.”

Willemse dovetailed this with: ‘I’m not going to be patronized by two individuals that have played in apartheid, segregated era and come and want to undermine’.

These two statements summarise the entire heart of the current public discourse in the divide. Depending on how apartheid race labels for an identity defines one, one is likely to either embrace, identify, concur or reject one of the two.

The ‘quota system’ phenomenon in rugby is often the manifestation of forced transformation in a space where transformation is not welcomed. Spaces that claim those who earn their places in either club or national colors do so purely by merit. In an ideal world, the assumption can be made that merit informs the choice of players in a squad representing a club or country. However South Africa is not a normal society, we had a saying years ago in SACOS, ‘no normal sport in an abnormal society’. The abnormality of society evidences a truculence to engage the apartheid bastions of race that have hitherto proven stubborn to let go.

Willemse’s emphatic claim that he has worked hard to earn his respect in the game of rugby is not a solitary one or exclusive to rugby, He made it clear his earning of that status is no different to his colleagues though in different epochs. He, therefore, wants to free not just himself but every black player that is necklaced with this label of being ‘quota player’ an identity that again is exacted by those who have always deemed it their right to decide and determine for those they have denied a common equal humanity. Thus, Willemse’s statement is, therefore, a cry for rightful recognition and a legacy devoid of the frame of being a quota player. It cannot be seen as a solitary moment but stands within a larger canvas of observations, personal experiences, and his personal journey.

He is supported by among others Thando Manana who in a radio interview shared similar sentiments being part of SA rugby, who argues it is time for a change. One may easily deduct that the experience is the same for an aggregate group of players of black designation, from the days of Errol Tobias, that over time joined the ranks of SA Rugby and more so in draping a Springbok emblem.

Yet, being cited as a ‘quota player’ is not exclusively limited to rugby, the South African corporate sector is replete with quota, senior executives and business players. The SA media world has its fair share of quota editors and journalists, the apartheid designed academic world that still holds sway of the essence of what makes for curriculum, study material and a professorship in democracy has its own share of quota player academics. The judiciary of SA has its own quota player portion and so we can go on. The reality is apartheid had at its core the flawed belief in a superior race of white identity not exclusively limited to the sport but permeating everything that defines societal life spaces where ordinary people attempts a meaningful life.

Willemse’s revolt is really a cry I to be unshackled from the burden of being tagged a quota player, he in proverbial sense of the Mary-Mary song with a controlled demeanor said, “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance”. He told South Africa and the rugby world, I am no quota player if you who deem me one finds it repulsive for yourself. This is a cry to claim his rightful legacy no different to his fellow analysts in the studio, an equal humanity. This is a common burden of many who in transformation were extended opportunity to participate, learn, grow and ultimately show their mettle. This is not new since we who have always followed rugby and love the sport from childhood days from the seventies know the apartheid rugby teams were empowered players in every facet of the word, hardly an all star-studded player group as if told in a sanitised sense of the history of a definition of SA Springbok rugby teams. Truth be told they were the first to be empowered and had no problem with that empowerment because it was ringfenced and only served the interest of that apartheid advantaged informed by skin color and pigmentation. They were firstly privileged, extended opportunity and often from a space of mediocrity but with a guaranteed space continued to improve in an understanding of the game the same everyone if afforded should show after a while.

Willemse helps us to appreciate problematic and I conviction that informs white thinking on transformation. Transformation is never a welcomed reality, change is always demanded and it is considered discomforting for those who have always benefitted from the status quo. There are those who call for merits as if all players whoever made it into the SA Rugby Teams in what is called “Springboks” did so on pure merit. This is wishful thinking and a blatant lie. They therefore with the advent of a changed political dispensation that necessitated a new society and demanded transformation labeled every black player that made the cut a ‘quota player’. Transformation the necessary instrument and true means for equality are distorted and conveniently understood in the denigrated botched identity of a final product known as ‘quota player’, what an indictment.

Those who are at pains to accord others the designation of quota players often draws a direct correlation between the performance of the team and the presence of those they believe are not elected on merit but informed by the demands of quota systems. They do so without even realizing what they say, Botha about three years ago was talking about the golden era of rugby which refers to a pre-1994 epoch. It is clear there not many in the white world of SA rugby thinking that have regard for the post-1994 era because it remains the team that saw quota players.

When Willemse says he has worked hard to earn his place in this game, he does so because he knows the epithet of a ‘quota player’ came to define the black player in the National Rugby team. The problem with this deduction of what makes for quota player is the again the aspect of race. Willemse’s cry is not a solitary one, but one that many shares.

Unfortunately, rugby seeks to remain white for the wrong reasons, rugby resists all and any means for it wants to continue purporting the enclave of white thinking. Rugby though for public relations stints considered a South African society sport, has exclusively remained the control of a white identity that same identity that predetermined itself as merit players and those who came by way of democratic South Africa as mere quota players. Being a quota player therefore is and remains an albatross and insult if seen through the lens of those who control rugby, the merit claim and afford themselves the inalienable right to know rugby.

South African rugby then attests a microcosm and true reflection of the democratic society, it is as if rugby was discussed at CODESA and apartheid’s beneficiaries negotiated its right to remain the self-appointed custodians of a sport many of us from the Cape have played.

Willemse’s second statement irked the daylights of many apartheid beneficiaries who self-identify in white as the reference to two rugby players that played in the apartheid era. The aggregate comments from whites on this statement depicts a race informed group angered to always be reminded of apartheid. Particularly in a season when Afri-Forum’s Kallie Kriel is in business sanitizing our collective experience of apartheid. When Willemse, therefore, tags Mallet and Botha as apartheid rugby era players, he is not deceptive, they are from that era, it is a fact. They are from a time when South African rugby for the better part was entertaining rebel-teams, begging the world to come and play against it and was considered a pariah state.

Willemse then out of that claim of equal rights space in retributive sense response to those who label others quota players f, those who bask in the sunshine of knowing rugby in superiority. He reminds them you are from the apartheid era. He, therefore, spits on what they consider the holy grail since he says the opposite of what they have come to believe that era stood for. When they look at the pre- 1994 era they see the glory days of Springbok rugby, how dare Willemse, therefore, have the audacity to tell them they were not the best, when that era was in their minds remains the best of all? This response earned him the ire of the white rugby supporters and he is castigated in many ways for being defiant, arrogant and therefore they will now remind him of his gangster past, his challenging life he was raised in Caledon and his challenge with English in a public space context. They will drag him to the altar of ultimate sacrifice and say he is incompetent slothful and corrupt, for when white thinking wants to tell you what they really think of a’ quota player’ be it in rugby, academics, politics, business corporates executive society or anywhere, they eventually will tell you incompetent and corrupt.

In the end, Willemse forces us to engage the label quota player, if you opined because you thought what happened on Saturday night was about rugby exclusively, you have failed to the draw links, because if you look closer you will see your work, business, academic, media, executive space, that had branded you a quota player. For as long as you silent when they make the jokes, for as long as you feel special in white thinking’s company you must stay that – God forbid the day you say like Parks and Willemse … my feets [sic] are tired. That is the day they will come for you and obliterate you. For as long as you remain a quota player and don’t revolt you will accuse Willemse of indolence and attention seeking what till you really get tired and we may have to write about you.

 

Clyde N.S Ramalaine

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Can South Africa have an honest debate on the claims of state capture?

– ‘Just to be clear, there is no such thing as a state capture criminal offence. That offence is a media invention’. Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana –

 

The South African discourse on state capture real or imagined as directed by the media lends itself to a herd-mentality of a confirmed prevalence of state capture supported by a claim of irrefutable evidence.   This also lends itself to a high level of intolerance to alternate views.  Those of us who question the usage of the construct are naturally considered dissidents, defending wrong, and therefore labelled in all likelihood as part of the act of state capture.   We therefore seldom engage as equals in this debate.

While some speak of state capture with a claim of scientific conviction, the hardcore legal evidence remains sketchy. Some of us continue to remind South Africa as to the history of the construct in the SA context as a sophisticated political theme directly appropriated from an original Democratic Alliance elections 2009 strategy. A strategy that evolved in public discourse to ultimately find credence as defining the former public protector’s report entitled ‘The State of Capture’. State Capture was now given an irrevocable truth status at the hand of this important Chapter 9 Institution and lives in own its presence in our daily sojourn.   We must ask who helped to create the ‘state capture narrative of a crime’ that we today have in claims scientific evidence?

If we, therefore, have state capture as a part of our lexicon be it in the daily claim by a group of politicians who were a part of the administration they accuse of we must remain conscious of the role the media played in the scripting of the minds construct in the national conscience. The subject of state capture solicits more voices who venture to probe the construct and its interesting narrow definition in the SA discourse.

Among those who have publicly shared their views are ANC politicians such as former finance minister now Rothschild’s director, Trevor Manuel who among others have also served the administration they accuse of state capture. He laments the reluctance of the investigating and prosecuting authorities to act against the ones Manuel have already found guilty. Manuel is not alone, in this demand for action on those they already found guilty.

ANC Presidential Candidate Ramaphosa, in July 2017 while on the campaign trail is quoted in the following words “We now know, without any shred of uncertainty, that billions of rands of public resources have been diverted into the pockets of a few,” Ramaphosa goes further, “There is not a day that passes that we do not gain greater insight into a network of illicit relationships, contracts, deals and appointments designed to benefit just one family and their associates,”

Candidate Ramaphosa at a COSATU Rally in that same season in August 2017, said the following: “The Hawks and NPA mustn’t sit on their laurels, they must do their work and investigate so those involved can be dealt with… there is no reason for the Hawks and NPA to wait for a commission of inquiry. Something about state capture should be done immediately.”

President Ramaphosa as the first citizen of SA in this season continues this narrative with a sense of absolute certainty on the presence of a crime defined as state capture. Since the President is an attorney by profession, it is difficult to distinguish between the jurist and the politician when it comes to the claims of state capture.

A few weeks ago, Howard University Professor Ziyad Motala in the Sunday Times, advanced the view that the net be cast wider than the current media dictated narrative. His idea of looking at state capture for a claim of existence warrants a scrutiny that resists the temptation of regarding the period immediately after 1994 as a time of innocence.  Motala brings the accusers into the accusation box when he asserts, ‘The relentless push to embrace free trade, sweetheart deals that allowed favoured companies to move their assets abroad, and the bilateral investment treaties were profoundly detrimental to the economy and the country’s ability to deal with the legacies of apartheid.”

On the subject of consequences, he concludes, “in terms of consequences, the economic, monetary, and trade choices immediately after 1994 that were indulgent to big business rank among the biggest rip off in the South Africa economy. If we to reckon with state capture, we must understand that its history is rooted in policy choices made during this country’s infancy.”  

For Motala, any attempt at understanding or appreciating the subject matter of state capture in 2018 as claimed in absence of a full recognition of the past policy choices made since 1994 is a dishonest exercise. Motala does not exonerate Trevor Manuel, whom he calls the darling of the liberal media while Manuel demands the prosecuting of those tried by the rule of the media in Gupta frame of state capture. Manuel and the administrations that made these policy choices owe South Africa explanations for their choices and thus in their own way may stand accused of state capture when they adopted the free trade agreements or as he calls sweetheart deals that favoured companies to move their assets abroad at the expense of the economy. The rationale for these policy choices is still to be explained.

By the same token there are those who ask why South Africa’s discourse unnaturally excludes President Ramaphosa for his role since as the second in charge of the same executive against whom there is overwhelming evidence of the offense of state capture accused of state capture They ask if he can be absolved for claiming he did not know.

The Star of June 6, carried an op-ed entitled.  “The Danger of the Rule of the Media” penned by Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana, Senior Counsel and Chairperson of the General Council of Bars. Ngalwana, cannot hide his frustration with the herd-mentality behaviour of a litany of opinion makers who ventures legal opinions devoid of any respect for how the rule of law functions. He, observes, “in an environment where uninformed legal commentary monopolises the public space. The rule of media supplants the rule of law”.  Ngalwana cautions South Africa as to where it finds itself on the role of the law of the media versus the rule of law. He shows this out on the hot topic of state capture and its presence in our discourse.

To support his concern for  a society that increasingly evidences the practice and ethic of a rule of law as supplanted by the rule of the media, he cites the following examples with these words, “We have seen examples of this in, among others, the persecution of former president Jacob Zuma in the media on a charge of which he had been acquitted by a court of law; the praising of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan for “winning” a case he had in fact lost as it was struck off the roll; and the excoriation of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for dissenting and characterizing the majority’s judgment as judicial overreach in a case in which the media seemed intent on the opposite outcome.

Ngalwana reminds us: “The latest example of this phenomenon came with last week Monday’s High Court order that the assets of the Gupta family be released from state capture- pun intended – because, said the court, there is no reasonable possibility that a confiscation order may be made. Opinion makers went ballistic. They blamed everything from the incompetence of the prosecuting authority to the incompetence of the judge.” Rightfully Ngalwana argues, ‘It never occurred to any of them that perhaps the judge may have been right in his assessment of the evidence before him, and so came to the only conclusion on that evidence.”

Ngalwana, goes to the heart of the matter when he categorically states, “To them that would not because the script had long been written (by them) that the Guptas were guilty of state capture – a ” criminal offence ” of media invention from the public protector’s report titled the State of Capture, and so everything they own is ” proceeds of crime”. So, when the judge deviated from that script, either he or the prosecuting team was incompetent. This dangerous phenomenon poses a serious threat to the rule of law.”   Ngalwana is emphatic when he asserts, ‘just to be clear, there is no such thing as a state capture criminal offence. That offence is a media invention.”

According to Abram Mashego’s headline story of the City Press of Sunday June 3, “Insiders at the National Prosecuting Authority(NPA) close to the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU) which is directing the criminal investigation into state capture, says that so far, they have ‘absolutely nothing’ against the Gupta business partner and former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane.”

For both Manuel and Ramaphosa state capture, the crime was long proven, hence they both bemoan why it is taking so long to prosecute those involved in state capture.  For Manuel, the evidence was proven by the media. They thus share an annoyance that the investigative and prosecutorial aspects are so tardy.   Is it possible that when Manuel and Ramaphosa express their dissatisfaction with the time it takes to bring those to a court, it may be because the script on state capture has already been written with Guptas as the epicentre? The frustration may, therefore, be the fact that the legal evidence proves sketchy. If there is such overwhelming evidence, why is the evidence not made to stand by itself?

We thus can conclude, the media invented script of state capture a ‘criminal offence’, that has long found former President Jacob Zuma, Secretary General Ace Magashule, Supra Mahumapelo and many others along with the Guptas guilty, is very intolerant to afford the rule of law to stand as the final arbiter for its claims. If and until the courts are afforded to entertain evidence for corruption, the media-led campaign that has concluded on state capture as a claim, state capture the crime and those accused in public sentiment which may work well since it always was a campaign. Is it possible that SA is busy trying to prove the media invented ‘state capture criminal offence’, which may not be borne out by the rule of law as Ngalwana cautions us?

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

Political Commentator & Writer

9/6/2018

Traditional America and the world may be wrong to continue to expect a different Trump?

The 45th President of the USA Donald J Trump is in office for more than 500 days of a four-year term, and still many in and outside the USA remain upstaged, angered and literally shaken by him. Not a week has gone by without him being in the news for some act and form of controversy, unorthodoxy, unilateral defiance and breaking with all conventions that define politics as a trade. That understanding of politics as a trade of win-win is not just limited to the internal USA community but from the start included the globe. Trump gave us what we came to accept as twitter- diplomacy where he prefers this medium as the appropriate and official means to share USA policy in day to day running commentary on a variety of topics. Trump’s nationalistic politics and praxis from the start ventured where his predecessors feared to tread, For Donald Trump its always about the grandiose.

USA President Trump has arrived in Singapore and will in a few hours shake hands and sit down with Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, in what remains a historic moment. While the meeting at a fundamental level remains very personal for both Trump and Jong-un, it is clear the latter has the better control hours before the event. We have all opined as to how Trump is really trumped by the manoeuvring of a Jong-un who clearly has thus far gained much more at personal, regional and global levels.

There is a further consensus that both Jong-un and Trump’s appreciation for what denuclearization means remains miles apart and in the final analysis that’s what will matter if the meeting will continue or see Trump get up and walk away as he so often has warned. We can only guess how this proverbial cookie may finally crumble, and we certainly have ample time to engage that in the aftermath. We learned that Trump’s hard-line position with the G7 is also a means to show he is not weak as he gets to sit down with Jong-un.

Beyond the theatrics and ego-tripping of both Trump and Jong-un, a more pertinent question remains, is the problem with Trump or with those who only know a traditional setting of world politics understood in what is termed conventions? By the same token will the USA and the globe ever get used to the politics, diplomacy and the communication style of Trump? Why do the rest of the world continue to hold the hope that the known conventions they have hitherto upheld will somehow become respected by Trump? There is the general consensus that Trump in every sense of the word is the antithesis of what diplomacy in the last 70 years have come to mean.

At national USA level, Trump has succeeded to blur if not obliterate decades of red and blue politics. Politics understood in frames of liberal and conservative. This, decades-long distinction real or imagined is now bull-dozed in more than blurred lines with Trump’s graphic signature all over it. He has thus cast a new frame of what politics may look like in the future? Trump the Republican President’s behaviour left the decorated Senator McCain so disturbed that he retaliated in his own tweet with the words: “Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.” One is not sure when before a senator had to reassure the USA allies that America supports them, despite its president.

Not only did Trump manage to blur red and blue internal politics, but he also has left long-standing allies befuddled and visibly annoyed with his redrawing of global politics and economics often in knee-jerk practice of politics and diplomacy. After withdrawing the USA from the long-crafted Iran deal, with threats to the very allies should they continue to support the Iran deal, he threw the world into turmoil and caused much anxiety as he singularly attempted to recast the Middle East politics when he pushed ahead to move the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump’s recent attending of the G7 meeting in Canada remains his latest upstaging of these long-standing allies. Not only did he arrived late and left earlier, but he is now in open hostile war of words with the USA’s closest trade partner immanent in the Canadian Prime Minister. The background for this, Trump before leaving the G7 Gathering, endorsed the joint statement of the G7, then in a fit of rage over the presser of Prime Minister Tredaux went on his usual tirade and reneged on what he committed to and instructed his officials not to endorse the joint statement.

Trump dropped two bombshells one en-route to the G7 summit, and one at the summit. Firstly, he openly called for the reinstating of Russia as a member of what was the G8. When Trump did this he again defied the standard practice of this body which upholds a code of private lobbying before public statements are issued. Trump had shown little respect for this subculture and practice. Secondly, Trump, threw down the gauntlet when he proposed a free trade with no tariffs, no barriers and no subsidies. Those who know say this is too simplistic and devoid of the hidden details of practicality. In Trump’s prism, if a trade is not reciprocal it can only mean “fool trade”. Clearly, the G7 is not ready for this and do not know what it means in a space where all these members in their own way seek to score from tariffs barriers and subsidies.

Day after day Trump continues to send tremors of shock that reverberates on both national and global scales. Yet, the expectation for Trump to be un-Trump equally remains. It is perhaps time to ask why is Trump continuing to shock the world? Is it the reluctance on the part of the world to accept that the world has changed by this one man? Could it be that the world has come to accept its practice of global politics as the accepted standard and is not ready to move on to embrace a new dispensation? Is it possible that the world still holds the hope that the 45th USA president will come around and adjust into their frame of world engagement, politics and diplomacy? If so why does the world continue to believe this about Trump?

Trump, after all, is consistent for having acted in this unpredictable and unorthodox fashion. He forewarned us that he was not going to be what was so far seen in USA presidencies. The USA voters knew exactly who they voted into power to occupy the White House and lead them. Trump has consistently focussed on his constituency at a local level, in his prism and reality, these ultimately constitute those he remains answerable to since they voted him into power. Expecting Trump to be a USA president is perhaps an erroneous expectation, he simply will not cross the proverbial railway line to become a USA president and fit the mould. He is and remains a president of those who voted him into power and his unpredictability remains his functional currency and relevance.

Is it perhaps here that the world continues to miss it because when it continues to be disappointed by Trump it is because it somehow has the hope that Trump can live up to the expectation of being other than the existential Trump.

Has Trump in his own way, therefore, shifted to a paradigm that the world is not ready to accept? Is he redefining what we came to know as the USA and global politics? Do we continue to blame Trump, or are we not responsible for our own disappointment, since we continue to hope Trump will wake up one morning and act in line with what we have come to define as matured, moderate, sensible politics informed by a frame of diplomacy we had until now come to share as the standard?

The Singapore summit between Trump and Jong-un will come and go, and nothing significant as it relates to denuclearization may be attained, yet the expectation to have a Trump fit into the conventional paradigms of global politics, diplomacy and ally-thinking will continue to occupy our global conscience for much longer so it appears.

 

Clyde Ramalaine

Political Commentator and Writer

 

 

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

14/06/2018

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 

19/6/2018

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

Beyond the DA, what are De Lille’s political options?

 

JOHANNESBURG- Patricia De Lille, the DA mayor of the City of Cape Town has vowed to continue her fight to prove the DA acted in an irrational manner when it expelled her from the party.  Her seeking of relief in the High Court on the which will hear her appeal today confirms she is not taking this lying down. It is clear the DA has committed of comedy of errors and was clutching at straws from the start.

Their meandering and manifold reasons for relieving her of her membership which we are now told is primarily informed by a statement De Lille made, confirm that each of the previous levelled claims was either drummed-up or vacuous, to say the least. There is also clearly going to be repercussions for the DA for this act which plays out in the typical race dilemma with the Coloured vote as the epicentre. De Lille became the object of the full attack of the DA which always includes the useful tools from incompetency to corruption charges.

The DA’ obsession with black ace politics in this season has seen it pushing for a Bonginkosi Madikizela candidacy in replacement of De Lille. Madikizela himself is a former ANC and UDM member and is currently the elected leader of the DA in the Western Cape. One does not have to be a De Lille fan to see the DA acted in a short-sighted and desperate fashion in its desire to get rid of her.  If it uses her statement as the sole and primary reason for relieving her of her membership without following due process, it will need to explain how on the basis of what it had initiated and executed a failed vote of no confidence, levelled accusations of corruption against, advanced incompetence on her part and at the same time expected her to remain of no public opinion as it pertains her political future within the DA. However, let us leave that for the court and judiciary to pronounce on.

The question De Lille is confronted with is what her political choices are going forward. To appreciate her the political options and ultimate choices we must ask what can benefit her, who is her current supporting constituency and how they can benefit. Ultimately, we must ask in what form and with who she may partner to teach the DA a lesson.

De Lille is a popular leader in the Western Cape, she is the first Mayor to attain a two-thirds majority. Under her leadership, the DA secured a significant margin of victory. You, therefore, cannot discount De Lille as a factor. The question is can you overestimate her? Off course in politics, a week is a long time and personal interest often outweighs the greater interest of causes. Her popularity is clearly underestimated by the DA.

De Lille’s constituency beyond all doubt is anchored in those with a denotation of Coloured for an identity. He support is stronger in particular in the Metropolitan Western Cape community. We all know the DA is not as popular in the rural hinterlands of the Western Cape. De Lille’s constituency comprises those who increasingly have become despondent with the DA’s white privilege centredness that is a reality in the City of Cape Town. The recent water crisis which we hear more and more was an engineered crisis centred on an elaborate salination deal with Israel in which the DA would have secured a +R600m war-chest kitty for its 2019 election campaign, has not helped the poor in the Cape metro who already feel marginalised. The elitist agenda and white interest the reason for the DA existence does not sit well with the poor who are black defined in Coloured, African and Indians.

The DA’s obsession to deal with De Lille became a Coloured fight, meaning the average self-identifying Coloured self and or other defined groups that make up this apartheid epithet for identity interpreted the DA’s action against De Lille with intend of replacing her with Madikizela as a direct attack on the Coloured people, who had thus far delivered the DA in successive victories since the ANC lost. Let us also agree when the ANC won the Western Cape it was also because of that constituency. De Lille is therefore considered the evidence of the disrespect the DA has towards this constituency despite the fact that it was loyal to the DA. This constituency can and will punish the DA. De Lille has this angry constituency on her side, for now, willing to punish the DA and hurt them where it matters most.

There are those who automatically assume De Lille will join the ANC, others assume she may even join the Economic Freedom Fighters. The question remains, what are the implications for De Lille’s choice for the ANC. The DA’s failed vote of no confidence in her was opposed by the ANC and the Patriotic Alliance, the latter’s vote ended up being the deciding vote that saw her survive the DA-led motion.

Joining the ANC, may not be as good a choice for her. Unfortunately, as much even some in the Western Cape and National ANC assume, the ANC can directly cash in with her walking into the ANC, the constituency that supports De Lille will be lost if she ventures such a move.  The ANC is today less of political home for Coloureds than it ever was since 1994. We know that the ANC has equally failed to take this constituency serious its many bad choices and known insensitivity interpreted in direct side-lining if not punishing this constituency when it comes to electing and appointing leadership from national to provincial cabinets has painted the ANC in the same vein as the DA. Secondly, the ANC does not inspire or show any change of heart and therefore is not trusted by this constituency regardless to how some politicians in the Western Cape may in this season simplistically approach this matter for their own personal political future gain. De Lille will lose the coloured constituency if she dares to join the ANC because the joining the ANC will not answer the cries of her supporting constituency.

Can De Lille’s choice for the EFF deliver a significant difference or her maintenance of the current support she has from the Coloured constituency that is deeply angered with the DA, and do not trust the ANC? The EFF is not in truth as real a presence as it claims. It remains a 6% party with more strength in Gauteng than anywhere. If the ANC is not trusted the EFF is less trusted for a multiplicity of reasons. The EFF shares strategic relationship with the DA that secured the DA political power and leadership in among others three metros Tshwane, City of Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay. The EFF in its clear apartheid narrow defined African focus policy footprint inspires no hope of ever representing this constituency. Also, the EFF despite all the noise and media space afforded has hitherto not been trusted to lead any municipality as can be seen from the August 2016 local elections performance. The EFF failed to be trusted at a time when the ANC was at its weakest. The EFF, therefore, is no home for the Coloured vote.

In the end, what may be the better option for De Lille? De Lille must find a way to revive her ID Party. When she came into an Alliance with the DA it was because she had a party that contested national elections. Her relationship with Helen Zille and the DA forced her to kill her own party as she was chained by a mayoral position. Perhaps a very important lesson for De Lille, who placed her personal interest above those entrusted her to lead.  The DA having politically shared in affairs and romantically dated half of SA political parties is a master at getting negotiating deals that work for it. After all, it lives up to its name of being an alliance, the only difference is the DA expects those it has affairs with to lose their identity and be subservient to it. De Lille had to give up her ID identity to fit into the DA. De Lille now is confronted with the reality of having to revive her party. Whether Aunty Pat has the energy to do it is another subject, but it does not look like she has any other option if she at least wants to remain popular with her supporting constituency.

She faces the stark challenge of having to revive her party and rebuild it with the hope of entering into a coalition with probably the ANC where she may be able to bargain in the interest of the constituency that continues to support her.  The ANC should also be wise to appreciate De Lille is of better use, not as a member but a coalition partner. In so doing she may be able to have a win-win situation where she gets what she as a politician at personal level may hope for, serve the interest of her primary constituency bargaining for their interest and equally punish the DA thus teaching her former party a political lesson.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
Political Commentator & Writer Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation

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