To understand why ANC members make utterances that contradict the spirit of the Constitution whenever their party and its president are threatened, we need to understand why the party is so distant from the Constitution.
Its NEC’s biggest smallanyana skeleton is that those who defend and call the ANC their father are pimped out and thrown under the bus by it because it isn’t their father. Who is, then?
Our country’s regression into Old Testament territory calls for Ezekiel’s unveiling of a similarly deluded nation’s origins:
“On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.”
South Africa is our mother, but the ANC is not our father.
“Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.”
Translation: you’re a bastard.
The romanticized story of how the New South Africa was conceived says the ANC liberated black people and is their political father. The truth is the ANC happened to have been positioned to take credit for the end of apartheid; it did not end apartheid.
This isn’t to say many of its members didn’t make epic sacrifices; it’s to say those sacrifices, in and of themselves, didn’t bring about liberation. Credit was imputed to these sacrificers for ending apartheid because the story of changed hearts would do more to unify us than the uninspiring non-story of that time’s financial realities.
The ANC provided a leader who unified and prevented horrendous bloodshed. But sparing South Africa from conflict is not the same thing as liberating South Africa from oppression. There is a price to pay for confusing the two.
The ANC accelerated a shift in the way black and brown people understood their relationship to the government. It did this at first by talking, then by inflicting violence. The State shook it off. After it was banned, ordinary South Africans used it as a focal point and rallying cry as they liberated themselves.
Post-Cold War trade rerouting made the bans many in the world had been crying out for easier, which brought about apartheid’s economic death. The romanticized version says the bans were initiated because the black lives of liberation stalwarts mattered that much to global economies’ consciences. If that’s so, why isn’t the West not that much ahead of us in eradicating racism today?
Second to its formation, no hour in a political party’s life is more formative than its graduation to being a governing party. The lies a party tells at the assumption of power insidiously latch to its people’s egos, sucking them into the gravity of their own spin machines. That is how the ANC fell under the deception that its members were directly responsible for dismantling apartheid and were to be singularly credited with accomplishments that required global events (and a lot of help!) from beyond their sphere of influence.
An awareness of one’s limits develops humility; self-deception develops entitlement. Without a correspondence between reality and narrative to stabilise the relationship between effort in and results out at that time, the party could never develop a grasp for the mathematical relationship between their ideologies and desired results for today. The ANC can’t govern because at a formative moment, it believed a lie about the relationship between its efforts and the liberation of the country it was to govern. We know it believed a lie because if humility is the mark of knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, the ANC is drowning in hubris and parched for results.
When we believe the ANC liberated South Africa, we follow its lead and fall into confusion about what unseats unjust office-bearers. It is not embarrassment, but if you think it is, you will sign petitions and have 3-day demonstrations. What unseats them is cut-off to resources they need or the unworkability of systems they put in place for their benefit. Previous posts list examples of what that looks like when the laws are unjust; when the laws are fine but their enforcers are not, the target shifts only slightly. You barricade and hold those people hostage until they quit. This is civil disobedience, and I explain its ramifications better in Facebook threads where people ask questions about it.
The skeleton key that unlocks the closet to all the ANC’s skeletons is that its children are political and ideological bastards. They were despised from birth by those who truly fathered that freedom. That’s why the ANC sees them not as trusting, precious supporters to be nurtured, but as objects to be exploited. #RememberKhwezi.
The ANC could not have fathered the New South Africa because it was not there; it was being exiled, arrested and killed in sacrifices that could not liberate South Africa except in the narratives we told to put flesh on and prettify the unfeeling financial skeleton of the world that was emerging. When someone invites you to take over a country the way the National Party did the ANC, it isn’t your victory to claim; it’s that person’s to give. Given that the ANC had been impotent all along, no amount of propping it up at the essential moment could help it father what it, in the end, never fathered. The patriarchal hang-ups that come with knowing this are not mine and are probably not yours, but they’re theirs and they explain why our ruling-party office-bearers are so insecure, paranoid and cynical. It’s because they know that the New South Africa is either the Old in disguise, or the hate child of those who ran and exploited the Old. Either way, it is not their child.
This is why the ANC, in filling Nelson Mandela’s shoes, gave us Jacob Zuma. He is their revenge for having to sustain this lie, their confession on the role that has been falsely imputed to them for years. The memory of real leaders — everyone until and including Mandela — are taunting and tormentous reminders of their inability and the whitewash they had to participate in to cover it. Zuma is how they try to claw out that part of our brains that remembers. But the crude lobotomy only reminds us that a father would never hurt his children.
The ANC did not give us the Constitution; the mostly-white and well-meaning prettifiers of the narrative around the 1994 transfer of power did, and the ANC signed it off but never owned it.
Black ANC supporters know that every victory they score for the ANC is yet more trust handed over to be betrayed in the worst ways possible.
Upon consummation, this misguided self-assertion turns out to be many lifetimes’ worth of self-negation.
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The book is almost done, and so am I.