A Question About the ANC Policy Conference

Conversations with politically clued-up persons reveal Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma will win the ANC’s succession race this December, beating Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa.  This seems to be an open secret in politics — written, scripted, foreordained.

Let’s look at the math necessitating this.  Cyril’s faction would fill positions from which they’d initiate processes to offer Zuma and his cronies up as sacrificial lambs to wash the ANC’s many sins away.  But just how sure are our handlers (the Guptas) that Dlamini Zuma can win now and carry the ANC through 2019?  Sipho Pityana does not mince his words about the plan as he imagines it:

“We shouldn’t rule out the possibility that Jacob Zuma’s project to sell South Africa’s sovereignty could involve rigging the ANC elections in 2017, and even the national elections in 2019.”

In an article titled, ANC conference: It’s not about policy, stupid — it’s about who wins, Stephen Grootes says the meeting starting this afternoon is important only because it

“gives us the best possible test of the relative strength of the different factions.”

It’s not about which ideas win; it’s about whose faction does.  It’s about who’s willing to play dirtiest.  Now, the tribalism the ANC used to shore up support cannot take the party forward through an educated woman.  On Voting Day, all manner of sins shall be forgiven the ANC, but for the sin of presenting a woman as the country’s presidential candidate while the country wages a war against women’s bodies, there will be forgiveness in neither this term nor in the term to come.  “But the ANC is about gender equality!” some will say.  Not quite.  While it’s one thing to get ANC members at an elective conference to vote for a female leader, it would take a miracle to repeat that at a national scale.

Could Dubai commission a PR strategy that to overcome this that wouldn’t simultaneously dismantle the thought patterns that have made the ANC’s looting more tolerable than the idea of a woman president?  Impossible: once patriarchy is challenged, so, too, is tribalism and nationalism.  But for fun, let’s imagine the ways a would-be Bell Pottinger could get around this patriarchy without exposing the ANC’s low-key abuse of nationalism, race politics and tribalism:

They could position Dlamini-Zuma as a natural continuation of Zuma’s legacy.  The challenge there is Zuma’s greatest achievement as president was becoming president.  There’s little else for a protégé to repeat.

Another way out of the conundrum would be to have Dlamini-Zuma’s persona so completely eclipse her husband’s, it would be tantamount to emasculating him.  Her message would be, “What was impossible with this man will be possible with me”, namely land expropriation and the “radical” transformation (read: deformation) of the economy.

Or a hybrid approach: he loosened the lid from the jar she’s now unscrewing open.  But how would they formulate that message and roll it out in two years, given people’s growing disenchantment with the ANC and, consequently, a higher threshold of scepticism to overcome?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the patronage network’s only way through the much-needed 2019 with any of its favoured candidates would be what Pityana said — election rigging.  The question we should be asking ourselves isn’t whether elections are free and fair; it’s to what extent they haven’t been, and to what further extent they won’t be going forward.

Accordingly, this is the question we should be asking ANC attendees delegated to this conference: what is the going rate for a parliamentary seat’s worth of votes?  Does anything else matter?  Soon after the Constitutional Court said,

“Central to the freedom ‘to follow the dictates of personal conscience’ is the oath of office.  Members [of Parliament] are required to swear or affirm faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution and laws.  Nowhere does the supreme law provide for them to swear allegiance to their political parties, important players though they are in our constitutional scheme.”

the ANC replied that its MPs are

“representatives of the ANC in Parliament and derive their mandate from the political party which deployed them.”

Just so we’re clear, never has an organization sung so consistently from the same hymnbook on any other issue.  This means no organization’s members have ever been as unanimously in on a gig.  History experts, tell me: treason been committed at this scale?  ANC experts, tell me: does the party’s idea of “the revolution” entail violating the country’s constitution?  These are not philosophical questions; they have enormous economic implications.  Do you know much more money we could save for even more looting if we replaced the ANC’s MPs with one Luthuli house correspondent, and elections with auctions?

Many questions, issues and answers will take up airspace at this time.  The discourse will move along much faster, and everything peripheral will instantly fall into place, if we approach the next two years asking everyone in the ANC just one question: what is the going rate for a parliamentary seat’s worth of votes?

Wouldn’t you want to know how much your body and soul were worth, if you’d been put on the slave market?  If you’d been trafficked or had your organs auctioned off?  I’d want to know.

I have friends in the ANC.  All I’d want to know from them is how much were they paid for my freedom.

Please follow, comment and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

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#ZilleTradeOff: Why Helen Zille Could Be Found Guilty

To grow substantively in 2019, the DA has to adopt a jurisprudential philosophy that could, unfortunately, be used to hold WC Premier, Helen Zille, responsible for bringing the party into disrepute through her colonialism tweets and defences thereof.

I have glimpsed Helen Zille’s humanity through her political nimbus.  I’m not sure which shines brighter.  So I regret our collective obligation to examine her actions, which needlessly stand in the way of the political realignment our country needs.

Zille apologised unreservedly and then defended her tweets.  Will she also apologise for the confusion this created as to what was unreserved about her first apology, never mind whether her DA can be trusted to say what it means?

She’s made claims on the relationships among causes and effects (colonialism and progress — the benefits of the latter being unevenly distributed and subjective) but those claims are speculative at best and dangerously mistaken at worst.  So people understandably interpret her argument through the cynical lens of the political moment, as well as varying complex motivations imputed to her.  That comes with the territory!

Apart from these considerations, her tweets are nothing that’s never been said before.  It’s when you start asking, “Why her?  Why this medium?  Why now?  What’s her intention?  What taste does she want to leave in people’s mouths?” — questions she would have asked as a journalist — that you start wondering whether a mind as analytical as hers spent so many years studying how news works “from the inside” that her subconscious could seize this opportunity for a perfect storm.  So what scores is she settling?

Why shouldn’t people find that line of questioning more relevant than her claim that “the legacy of colonialism wasn’t all evil”?

Just as her post-apology behaviour is not consistent with apologising, her tweets aren’t coherent among themselves as to her beliefs on the immorality of colonialism.  And how many of the countries she compares ours to had the former beneficiaries of oppression stay without having to make reparations?

When there is an injured party and a party implicated with injuring (or indirectly benefiting from the injury), it is the injured’s prerogative to rank the pros and cons of the situation — not the injurer’s or beneficiary’s.  I use this analogy because sexual violence was a sub-legacy of colonialism: what if a rapist’s family said to one of his victims, “But what our son did to you gave you this beautiful child, so the rape’s legacy wasn’t only evil”?

Wouldn’t it be more respectful (dignity is constitutional!) for the rapist’s family to wait for the survivor to frame the story?  Everyone frames stories because just as there is no objective fact-book against which to test Zille’s posited relationships among causes and effects (apart from the more immediate contextual considerations of who she is and what her intentions could have been when she pursued this path), no story dropped down from heaven fully-formed.  No court would say her tweets were “correct”, for then it would have to exonerate tweets on how today’s Jews benefitted from scientific advances made during the Holocaust.  It could be easier for a court to condemn Zille’s tweets than rule them “factually correct.”

Even if Zille’s voicing her opinion is constitutionally sustainable on the basis of her right to freedom of expression, the tastelessness with which she exercises it right conflicts with others’ right to dignity (which includes the aggrieved’s right to frame the story) and will be the reason neither the DA’s nor South Africa’s constitution will be supported by voters come 2019: those legal frameworks fail to endow black persons with equality.  The failure happens when those interpreting them don’t impress contextual equity into disputes.  No constitution or constitutional right was ever formed or ever operated in a vacuum.

The justice framework we inherited came about because former President Nelson Mandela, among others, backed down from implementing what would have been seen as perfectly justifiable measures in 1994.  His reticence about justifying that version of justice was prior to and made possible Zille’s rush to justify her interpretation of the rules.  If we’d applied her approach to law during Mandela’s moment, there would have been no Zille moment.

Prior to her self-justification should be mindfulness that a negotiated settlement is negotiated, as opposed to meeting all the needs of every party, let alone the aggrieved who could make the greatest claims.  It’s a settlement as opposed to being an ideal and perfect ending.  From its beginning, “We, the people of South Africa, Recognize the injustices of our past”, the letter of our law decidedly points beyond a threadbare reading of itself towards restoring dignity; towards spirit, not letter.  The constitutions ultimately answerable to the Constitutional Court are signposts guiding us to interpretations that allow aggrieved parties to frame for themselves, to their own equity and dignity, their stories of how they came to be aggrieved.

We’re stuck in 1994 until we outgrow the ANC.  The DA must grow, come Helen or high water.  That the announcement on her possible suspension was mishandled may discredit the DA, but it doesn’t re-credit her.

The DA could be the ANC of the 21st century if it does what the ANC never did — liberate, not tax money, but black people and all South Africans.  But that would depend on the jurisprudential philosophy it segues into.

Thank you.  Please follow, retweet, share and comment: @SKhumalo1987

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