Fear, hypocrisy and the abuse of Mandela in the ANC*

October 21, 2008 § Leave a comment

I read a rather hypocritical article penned by former Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi in the Sunday Times where he decried the treatment of former president Nelson Mandela during an ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting in 2002.

Mr Ramatlhodi was present in that meeting. In the article he details how NEC members called Madiba divisive for having told the NEC that certain of its members had approached him to let him know that dissent was not allowed in the ANC. Madiba was then asked to name the people who made those claims. In his attempt to protect these individuals, he refused to name them — for this he was called a liar. Some even said he wanted to rule from the grave. He was taken to task for this, as we say in Xhosa, bakhwela bezehlela kuye.

Ramatlhodi details how speaker after speaker went after Madiba while Terror Lekota chaired the meeting. He was so insulted that that he never attended another NEC meeting, according to Ramatlhodi.

To quote Ramatlhodi: “The tragedy of the episode is that senior leaders, who today are vocal about the recall of Mbeki as president, were there when Madiba was being violated in the most brutal manner by junior leaders of the movement.

“None of them had the courage to stand up and defend an innocent old man, our former president and icon of our struggle. They must have been genuinely afraid of Mbeki, a president who has somehow turned out to be the ANC itself. He has become larger than the movement. They were scared; I was scared.

“It was, indeed, a very sad day for those of us who were unfortunate to be there as witnesses.”

Obviously, it was not sad enough six years ago for him to speak out; he only realised six years later how sad a day it was. Now that it is politically convenient to speak out, he does.

It’s easy to show courage when you are part of a majority and part of the winning team. True courage is standing for what you believe even when you know in your heart that you have a 100% chance of losing everything you’ve worked for. I have no respect for one who only speaks out when it is easy to do so. He should have spoken out when it wasn’t.

If Ramatlhodi was such a man of honour, why then was he silent? Why did he not stand up for Madiba then? We can only deduce that his silence meant that he agreed with every single word that was said to Madiba.

In his open letter to Terror Lekota, Minister Jeff Radebe savaged Lekota for having presided over that meeting and for having allowed Madiba to be treated in the manner he was. If Ramatlhodi and Jeff Radebe were so concerned at the treatment of Nelson Mandela, why did it take them six years to speak out?

Indeed, if Terror Lekota presided over a period in the ANC where dissent was not permitted, then why should we trust this new party? How different are they going to be from the ANC?

But back to Ramatlhodi: Should we suddenly applaud him for taking a moral stance now? We should all be equally appalled at the manner in which Madiba was verbally attacked by the NEC members. I don’t know who was at the meeting, but we know who the members were: Terror Lekota, Jacob Zuma, Trevor Manuel, Thabo Mbeki, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Sam Shilowa and many more. None of them said a word in defence of Madiba. Not one according to Ramatlhodi. How dare now they use his name now to get what they want!

This whole saga clearly shows us that no one is innocent. No one has clean hands.

This is clearly an attempt by the ANC to use Nelson Mandela’s name in order to shore up support for itself. What can we make of these leaders who seem to have a moral compass of convenience?

There is no courage in speaking out when it is safe to do so. There is no honour in defending a man’s honour only when it benefits you. Ramatlhodi and Jeff Radebe should have demonstrated their moral fortitude when Madiba was viciously attacked in that meeting, precisely because it was not the politically safe thing to do then. Their political careers were more important than standing up for what was right apparently.

What I have never been able to understand was how Thabo Mbeki, as one man, was able to stifle debate. The men and women who were there, who sat and allowed that to happen from day one, can only blame their lack of courage.

What is the point of speaking out when the majority is speaking out? Courage is not when you speak out when it is safe or beneficial for you to do so.

We need to have leaders who are able to do so especially when it is unsafe to speak out. Right now they are in short supply.

khayav@gmail.com

* first published 20 October 2008 on thoughtleader.co.za/khayadlanga

The Internet Knows, The musical

October 20, 2008 § 2 Comments

I’m not telling you what they were reacting to. It’s disgusting that’s all I’ll say.

October 13, 2008 § 1 Comment

Could a crazed McCain supporter attempt to assassinate Obama?

October 13, 2008 § 1 Comment

YouTube responds to the debate

October 10, 2008 § Leave a comment

Khaya, the greatest man that ever lived

October 6, 2008 § 3 Comments

What women should know

October 1, 2008 § 7 Comments

This is a cormmecial I worked on with a number of people who work at MetropolitanRepublic.

I’ve written this blog on my iPhone 3g

September 30, 2008 § 3 Comments

I decided to write a blog (as the title suggests) on my iPhone to see what it would be like. I must say it’s not as irritating as I thought it would be to use this keyboard. The cool thing is that it corrects your spelling as you go along in case you strike the wrong keys.

I don’t know how many wrong keys I’ve hit so (ok, that was irritating, as I was trying to write the “so” it kept writing “do”. But that was my fault because I kept hitting the wrong key) far.

But this is not bad if you want to write a short blog. It’s taken me 7 minutes to scribe this much. I’m sorry to tell you this but as I write, I’m on the toilet, pants on ankles. Not to worry kids, I always wash my hands.

I’ve got an iPhone, the (bad) musical

September 28, 2008 § 1 Comment

Should Zuma give way for a Motlanthe presidency after the 2009 elections?*

September 25, 2008 § 8 Comments

If Zuma were to get up and address the nation and tell us that he has no intentions of running for the presidency of the country, he would do much to repair his chequered reputation. Such an announcement would probably be one of the single greatest acts of self-sacrifice this nation has ever seen. It would be a great turn around. He would redeem himself in many people’s eyes.

But then again, who am I kidding? Nothing of the sort would ever happen; not in a million years. If Jacob Zuma were to be asked today if he would be willing to stand down in the name of party unity he would give us the predictable rehearsed classic response, “I serve at the pleasure of the ANC. If the ANC says that they want me to serve as president of the country, I will serve. If it says it wants me to sweep the floors I will. It is not for me to say I don’t want to be president or I want that position.” I would bet a billion rand that’s what he would say if asked. Ok, maybe not those precise words but you get my drift.

It is my understanding that no one puts a gun against anyone’s head and forces someone to a position they don’t want in the ANC. Sometimes our leaders treat us as though we are idiots. We may be dumb, but we certainly aren’t as dumb as they think.

In a clever attempt to have it both ways, Zuma could also announce to the nation that he is making that consideration when in fact he isn’t. The Youth League, Cosatu and others would then shout from the rooftops and he would “cave”. He would then say that there are too many calls for him to run — he simply cannot ignore those calls; he has to serve the people. I expect that he would also point to the example set by Nelson Mandela who, before the elections, is reported to have told the NEC that he did not want to be president of the country because he felt he was too old. He also argued that there were younger and more capable hands to lead the country. The only difference is that there were no divisions within the ANC at the time. The ANC urged him to stand because the world trusted him and he would also ease any white fears. Basically, it was best for the country for him to be president.

Referring to the Mandela example, is it the best thing for the country to have a Zuma presidency? In fact, let me pose a less noble question. Is it the best thing for the ANC? I doubt that it is best for the ANC for him to run and these are my very unscientific reasons:

1. If he runs, the ANC will most certainly have a reduced majority at the polls next year as a direct result of the manner in which Thabo Mbeki has been treated. It was not the most politically astute move to make a few months before the general elections.

2. The DA will most certainly win the Western Cape thanks to the divisions in the ANC and the coloured vote going to the DA once again.

3. I am convinced that the UDM will see an increase in enthusiasm for it, particularly in the Eastern Cape. Personally, I believe Bantubonke Holomisa has been making sense for a very long time but nobody has been listening.

4. Much of the young, black middle class feels like political orphans at the moment and will either abandon the ANC and will not vote, or they will look for a new home.

Did the ANC really consider all of these possibilities before the ousting of Thabo Mbeki? Did they really have the interests of the ANC at heart or did they just have the interests of one man? Or were the Zumarites so drunk with victory after Judge Nicholson’s judgment that they threw reason out the window?

The advantage of having Kgalema Motlanthe as president is that he would be his own man. He owes no one. The ANC would remain largely intact if he were to run for the presidency. Most of those who feel like they are political orphans now that Thabo Mbeki has been fired would come back home. The ANC wouldn’t suffer as much in the elections next year.

Unfortunately the ANC is led by a group of hot heads who would never consider Kgalema Motlanthe as the option for party and country. They want what they want and they will do whatever it takes to get it. Get rid of the Scorpions, get rid of unwanted premiers, get rid of Thabo Mbeki and maybe the next thing is to drop all charges against Jacob Zuma. And finally, President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma.

If Zuma were to stand down it would probably be one of the greatest selfless acts we have ever witnessed as a nation. Not just because he would forego power, but he would forego a couple of extra pages in the history books as South Africa’s third democratically elected president.

If Zuma takes this course of action, he would also free himself from the political debts he owes. His creditors would tell him in no uncertain terms that a debtor cannot tell his creditors how he wants to pay them. He simply has to abide by the terms and conditions that have been set out before him, or there will be consequences. He might be forced to constantly make decisions he doesn’t want to make as president because he owes so many people. Zuma is between a rock and stainless steel.

To be fair, none of us know what it’s like to be Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. We can only imagine the torments he goes through. Now he can see a light at the end of the tunnel. But once he emerges into the light, will he be his own master?

Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma both damaged the ANC. They should ride into the sunset and allow others to repair the mess they have created. I suspect both men believe the other is responsible for this mess. They should leave the stage for Kgalema Motlanthe.
The question is: is Zuma man enough to give up what no man would give up? Can he truly give up what he has been working towards for such a long time? Can he give it up when it is within reach? When he has it in the palm of his hand? If I were him I don’t know if I would be able to. And that is the truth. Perhaps we should understand why he wouldn’t give up. But I don’t think we should excuse him for not letting go.

*first published September 25 2008, http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/khayadlanga

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