IS THERE ANY CREDIBILITY AND MORALITY IN SOUTH AFRICAN POLITICS?
One of the tiredest political clichés is “a week is a long time in politics” which has been attributed to former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. This week its full implications must have hit DA member of parliament Dianne Kohler-Barnard like the proverbial sledgehammer. Always regarded as one of the most effective and efficient MPs she has being attacked and vilified as if she was the reincarnation of Hitler and all known tyrants into one, even by people normally regarded as being sensible.
Her crime? She shared a Facebook post of a satirical journalist from Noseweek, Paul Kirk. It was an ill-conceived action but surely not one deserving of the furore that has now broken out.
Once her provincial leader, Zwakele Mncwango, contacted her she immediately deleted the post. She has subsequently apologised unreservedly for the posting and has been demoted from the Shadow Minister of Police to the deputy Shadow Minister of Public Works but yet this is not enough.
There are people, even people such as the journalist Justice Malala, who I have always regarded as a fair and sensible person are demanding nothing short of her resignation.
This sanctimonious knee jerk reaction by a large section of the population has me doubting, for the first time in my lifetime, if there is a future for South Africa!
Let us look at the actions and sayings of other politicians that have been allowed to go by without the same outcry.
The most obvious example is the The SMS, sent to Dianne Kohler-Barnard, “I am black, proud, capable and get it clear you can take nothing from me, eat your heart out. I am not made by you and cannot be undone by you – Riah Phiyega.” Police Commissioner Phiyega admitted to sending the SMS which her spokesman Solomon Makgale calling it a “statement of self-affirmation”.
This is apparently acceptable because ANC police portfolio committee chairman Francois Beukman chose not to ask Phiyega to explain her actions, but said: “There was an acknowledgement, but I think we just need on that issue serious reflection by the accounting officer and I’m just going to leave it there.”
Obviously ANC appointed officials, paid for by the taxpayers, can say and do as they like, they are protected game.
It would appear that it is better to be accused of being a “rapist” in South Africa than being accused of being a “racist”.
Although acquitted of rape President Jacob Zuma, a married man, admitted to having unprotected sex with his friend’s daughter and then claimed that he took a shower afterwards to cut the risk of contracting HIV. This is acceptable but on posting a Facebook is considered worthy of being tarred and feathered – let’s get real.
The irony of the matter is rather than condemning the president’s unsafe sex the ANC Women’s League, in full uniform arrived at court everyday to support, not the complainant, but Zuma. Then again I suppose it is acceptable because he did not forward a Facebook post.
The same President is the one who is reported to have said that “Africans lived in peace with each other and had fun, but then came the others” people whom he would rather not name. This statement was made on the occasion of the Africa Day Celebrations at the University of Pretoria, Mamelodi on Sunday 22 May 2015
In January speaking at the ANC birthday party Zuma also angered many South Africans when he said that South Africa’s problems started when Jan van Riebeeck arrived in the Cape.
President Zuma is allowed to make potentially Xenophobic attacks about a section of the population and confirm his obsession with race in all spheres but it is not as serious as sharing a Facebook posting.
In April this year while on a state visit to South Africa at the invitation of the Zuma government Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe told a crowd of media and spectators while visiting Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto, “I don’t want to see a white face”. Zuma and the ANC remained silent, yet again.
This is the same President who does not hesitate to publicly sing his signature tune “Umshini wami”, also known as “Awuleth’ Umshini Wami” (Bring me my machine gun), a controversial Zulu struggle song used formerly by members of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress during the struggle years. Although deeply offensive to certain segments of South Africans it is considered acceptable but just do not share a Facebook post!
One of the serious allegations made against Kohler-Barnard is that she claimed to have shared the Facebook posting without having read it. Yes it was stupid and irresponsible, but what about the President who lives at Nkandla and goes home frequently, firstly denies that the state is upgrading his home and is apparently oblivious of the swimming pool, amphitheatre, cattle kraal and even lifts at a cost of R2.3million rand. He then refuses to pay for the upgrades and the case is now before the Constitutional Court but according to the sanctimonious ANC apologists it is OK because he did not share a Facebook post!
We have a president out of control and unaware of what his cabinet members and party colleagues do or say, for example:
the day after the Minister of mining Mr Ngoako Ramatlodi had withdrawn the operating licence from a mine whose labour policies displeased him President Zuma declared in parliament “I am not aware of this decision”;
a month after Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s comments on the potential corruption of the judiciary as having told senior managers of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) that “some elements of the judiciary meet with characters to produce certain judgments.” and that this practice was becoming a common feature in the judiciary. Zuma stated in parliament “It’s literally the first time I hear of it.” This despite the fact that Nhleko’s comments were widely covered in the media;
As soon as a question is raised that the President disapproves of and he does not supply a substantial answer his lackey Madam Speaker refuses to insist that the President answer questions fully using her standard comment that “You may not like the answer‚ but it is an answer“;
It would seem that in the democratic South Africa it is acceptable for the President to misrepresent the truth in order to score political points at home and in Africa. Addressing ambassadors on 15 September this year Zuma said Europe had to accept responsibility for the refugee crisis it was currently experienced. “The bombarding of Libya and the killing of its leader opened the floodgates for serious tensions and conflict” he stated.
Conveniently he omits to remember that South Africa and Nigeria were both on the UN Security Council at the time, occupying two of the ten, non-permanent, two-year seats. South Africa’s vote for Resolution 1973 was highly controversial even within South Africa. But the South African government justified it on the grounds that a foreign military intervention was necessary to prevent Gaddafi’s forces slaughtering his opponents in their Benghazi stronghold, as he, Gaddafi, had threatened to do.
At the time Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe blasted South Africa and Nigeria at the African Union summit saying Africa would never agree to them getting permanent seats on the UN Security Council because they had both voted for UN Security Council Resolution 1973 in 2011, which authorised military action against the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Of course there is still the Omar Al Bashir debacle, without even discussing the rights and wrongs of the ICC warrant for his arrest on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, where he is accused of ordering the death of over 300 000 Africans, consider the facts.
The government of President Zuma facilitated the escape of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir from South Africa on 15 June 2015 in direct contravention of a court order issued by a full bench the North Gauteng High Court. This is a clear violation of the President’s oath to “obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other laws of the Republic,” this is an offence for which the President can be impeached in terms of section 89(1)(a) of the Constitution?
Despite the furore about the debacle the government has applied the Zuma trick to stall answers to the ICC through bureaucratic means. And has now tweeted The South African Government also that “AU invited Heads of State & Government of all AU Member States, including President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, to attend the Summit”, signalling clearly that they fully intend to yet again break the law and host Al-Bashir for the FOCAC summit in South Africa in December.
Said in the true Pik Botha style “they (the international community) can do their damnedness”. I better be careful lest I am berated as being a racist and apartheid supporter.
One can go on about matters such as Jacob Zuma not being prepared to “have his day in court” to answer the 793 corruption charges against him, the Gupta gate scandal, the new minister of Mining (Gupta?) affairs, all the disgraced ANC cadres who are given a golden handshake and or promoted for corruption or mismanagement including the travelgate scam but it all fades into oblivion as long as you are not from the DA and share a Facebook post.
Until next time,
This newsletter is published by Clive Hatch former Leader of the Opposition in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and former DA Provincial Leader. These views are my personal views and do not represent those of any other person or organisation.