Politics and government

Could the old Apartheid government have saved us from Zuma's ANC?

Someone I was chatting to after the 2014 elections, last week, made an interesting comment. He said that if the old Apartheid-era National Party had educated all South Africans better (and not just white South Africans), the ANC under Jacob Zuma would have had a more challenging time selling themselves with all the corruption in the ANC’s ranks.

Interesting argument but I suspect that if the old Nationalist government had education non-white South Africans better, that government wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. We may have dodged the Zuma bullet if Apartheid ended sooner but then again, it probably wouldn’t have been necessary for the ANC to have become what it became to defeat the old regime.

Policy issues Politics and government

The ANC Abuses Its Power To Protect Its Control

I just read an article in Mail & Guardian titled ANC at pains to silence booing and noticed this stark reminder that the ANC sees itself as synonymous with the State and has no difficulty using national intelligence agencies to retain power:

At the time, ANC insiders said that a team of state intelligence operatives and police officers had been dispatched to Mpumalanga from as early as December to do groundwork and counter any move by Zuma’s detractors to embarrass him.

The ANC is not the government. It is a majority party and has the power to appoint the government but that government is responsible for protecting all South Africans’ interests.

Politics and government

Writing about the ANC's perspective on power

More equal than others

The ANC’s response to the Public Protector’s report on the Nkandla controversy highlights its twisted perspective on its position as ruling party. I had to express my outrage and did it on Medium in an article titled “More equal than others“. Here is how it begins:

If you have paid much attention to the ANC’s responses to controversies it has been embroiled in (usually due to its leader and current South African President, Jacob Zuma), it should be pretty clear to you that, with the ruling party’s reaction to the Public Protector’s report on the president’s Nkandla compound development, the ANC has left our reality and its claim to power seems to be based on a modern version of the ancient Divine Right of Kings.


South Africa, a land of hopelessness and despair

​The ANC has squandered the opportunities the 1994 elections brought and South Africa is increasingly a place of unfulfilled promises and hopelessness. The New York Times has published an article which highlights the self-centered government we are currently afflicted with:

Nowadays, the party is increasingly seen as interested mainly in self-enrichment, an impression underscored by reports that the government is paying for $27 million in renovations to Mr. Zuma’s private village home, ostensibly for security reasons. The project is the subject of multiple investigations.

Altogether, the labor unrest, broad disillusionment, dimming economic prospects and political inertia represent perhaps the most serious crisis South Africa’s young democracy has faced.

​Some people say South Africa is a banana republic. That can’t be true. Even bananas need sunlight to grow.


Daily Maverick reveals evidence of the Marikana Murders

Many of us remember the old days when the police vans were yellow and were manned by white men engaged in a racially-motivated campaign to dominate, control and oppress the majority racial group in this country. It was a dark time in this country’s history and one which we hoped was firmly in the past when Nelson Mandela’s release from prison inspired a non-violent and hopeful revolution, transforming South Africa into a multi-racial and multi-cultural nation. Back in the mid to late 1990s there was a lot of talk about a Rainbow Nation. We haven’t heard that talk for a while and, instead, South Africa has returned to a group mindset focused on our differences, rather than our common interests and humanity.

Rather than moving away from a split and unequal society towards a united nation, the borders between us have just been redrawn and cloaked with rhetoric, Struggle jargon and over-used words like “transformation”, “redistribution” and notions of persistent white control. It’s mostly bullshit designed to keep the uninformed voting population firmly in the pockets of whoever is keen to retain control over the country’s political and economic future but it works so we have a government that under-delivers, over-promises and keeps pointing to the modern equivalent of the old “Swart Gevaar” (or however the old National Party government referred to the spooky threats lurking in the darkness of the old South Africa).

The violence at Marikana is another reminder than we are far from the society Mandela’s ANC envisaged and the nation we hoped for almost 20 years ago. It is a reminder that the more some things change, the more they stay the same. It is a reminder that the current regime has forgotten what it fought for and that the pigs have just moved into the farmhouse. The Daily Maverick has an article today which reveals how the police at Marikana didn’t just fire in self-defence, some of the SAPS’ members cornered protesting miners away from the media at the scene and murdered them:

Some of the miners killed in the 16 August massacre at Marikana appear to have been shot at close range or crushed by police vehicles. They were not caught in a fusillade of gunfire from police defending themselves, as the official account would have it. GREG MARINOVICH spent two weeks trying to understand what really happened. What he found was profoundly disturbing.

Of the 34 miners killed at Marikana, no more than a dozen of the dead were captured in news footage shot at the scene. The majority of those who died, according to surviving strikers and researchers, were killed beyond the view of cameras at a nondescript collection of boulders some 300 metres behind Wonderkop.

After all this time, we really haven’t come very far at all. Sure, the miners were belligerent and the photos I have seen show the miners were armed with an assortment of weapons. I wouldn’t have wanted to be standing there facing them but there is a difference between containing a violent confrontation and hunting the protestors down and shooting them as they flee. That is what the old SAPD did under a National Party government. That is what we saw in a virtual police state. This is what this country is becoming.

Image credit: Apartheid – A Crime Against Humanity by United Nations Photo, licensed CC BY NC ND 2.0

Media Policy issues Politics and government

Small minds crippled South African democracy

I’ve been reading a couple more stories both anticipating and discussing yesterday’s shameful vote to pass the Protection of State Information Bill in Parliament. There are some terrific quotes in these articles, all of which are worth reading:

Times Live’s article titled “The bitter triumph of small minds”:

If our parliament votes this bill into law on Wednesday, mark the day. It will signal the moment small minds obsessed with power triumphed over freedom.

Times Live’s article titled “Ruling party MPs should hang their heads in shame”:

Far from protecting South Africa from spies and “information pedlars”, as the securocrats would have us believe, this regressive bill will cause our nation incalculable harm.

Times Live quoting former president Nelson Mandela in a piece titled “An unequal contest with the truth”:

A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favour. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution.

It is only such a free press that can temper the appetite of any government to amass power at the expense of the citizen. It is only such a free press that can be the vigilant watchdog of the public interest against the temptation on the part of those who wield it to abuse that power. It is only such a free press that can have the capacity to relentlessly expose excesses and corruption on the part of government, state officials and other institutions that hold power in society.

The National Editors’ Forum released a statement anticipating the vote on the bill which included this quote:

Every MP who presses the green button to vote ‘yes’ for the Protection of State Information Bill will at that moment take personal responsibility for the first piece of legislation since the end of apartheid that dismantles an aspect of our democracy – a betrayal that will haunt them forever

I have also collated a number of stories leading up to the bill’s passing and subsequent analysis on Storify:

View the story “South Africa’s Black Tuesday” on Storify]