#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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On #MenAreTrash (Multiple Trigger Warnings)

In response to Karabo Mokoena’s shocking murder, the online community has taken to social media to say #MenAreTrash.  People are rightly calling out men’s inertia towards gender-based violence.

But…

***

One afternoon in school, I noticed a group of older boys whisper conspiratorially behind me.  I started walking away discreetly.  One of them followed.  Dilemma: was I to draw more attention to myself by breaking into a run, or bite the bullet and face whatever humiliation was coming?

Before I decided, one of them groped me indecently with the school watching.  They laughed as he walked back to his friends, an exaggerated “swish” in his movements.  I picked up what everyone around me was saying through the blood rushing to my ears:

“But he isn’t gay…is he?”

“I’m sure he is.  Why else would that guy have done that to him…?”

A girl turned to look at me and asked, “But you are gay, aren’t you…?” as though that justified it.

Often incorporating sexual harassment, bullying was rarely one-dimensional.  Is this as bad as what women go through?  Nope.  Still, my observation was that while female students were neither the primary sources of homophobic bullying, nor derived any direct benefit from the maintenance of that status quo, they enforced it then as women play a significant role in enforcing it now.

***

 

I will say upfront there will be some mansplaining so you may want to turn back now.

The expression men are trash has a distinctly heterosexual dog-whistle pitch.  What made men “trash” or “dogs” in the distant past wasn’t rape or violence.  It was infidelity / inattentiveness / inconsiderateness / inability or refusal to provide within the contexts of the relationships they had with women.

Not being raped by her intimate partner wasn’t one of women’s ironclad expectation.  Women’s rights were not universal; they were dependent on the men (brothers, fathers, husband) in their lives.

So a woman’s lot was to be infantilised in exchange for accepting romanticised portraits of patriarchy; it was also to accept gender-based violence as the man’s exercise of his rights, or displays of his jealousy.  Mind you, if we rewind further back and visit the places we sourced Abrahamic religious scriptures, we see men could technically neither cheat nor rape except other men’s wives and daughters.

What men could do wrong entered public discourse rather incrementally and contextually.  So the expression “men are trash” has not meant the same thing throughout time; it has had slippery meanings that have stuck to it through time, meaning whatever women wanted the words to mean, given whatever they could speak out about at that time.  It is only recently that femicide became something polite society speaks about.

We could have had something that more acutely reflected today’s concerns, like, oh I don’t know: #AllMenAreRapists.  #YesAllMen.  #AllMenAreMurderers.  But unlike rapist and murderer, the word trash embraces all the resonances the word has carried through the ages.

So women are rightly telling us we’re trash for not doing more to stop gender-based violence, but somewhere in that crowd is a jilted lover, a woman scorned, who is also calling all men trash for all the other ways we have betrayed the promises heterosexism and hetero-patriarchy made to women and to her.  All men’s crimes, responsibilities and failures from throughout history are lumped together into one slam of the gavel.  The problem with a consolidated criminal charge is femicide presupposes one context, one worldview and one set of promises; rape, and all men’s other crimes and failings, presuppose others.  The word trash potentially hijacks anger from one context and uses it to relieve frustrations from another without explaining either very deeply (go 140 characters!); it therefore potentially Trojan-Horses very non-feminist, male-dependent energies into the public psyche while dishing them up as feminism and independence.

Don’t believe me?  Let’s agree on heterosexism as the assumption straight is default and normal.  Heterosexism’s implicit promise to women is that if they give little bits of themselves to patriarchy, they’ll get all patriarchy’s benefits without its pains.  Its implicit promise to men is that since their identity is (falsely) tied up into dominance, women will be where they demonstrate said dominance and preserve said identities through the subjugation of women.  While not every couple within the heterosexist framework realises every pleasure and every pain made possible by the heterosexist framework, heterosexism has funny ways of intersecting with other structural lies to produce hell on earth.  Bear in mind, again, when they say, “men are trash”, many women are venting at the inevitable frustration at men that comes with buying into this lie, and they are venting at rape and domestic violence at the same time.

My point is we can’t complain about breakdowns in heterosexism as it once was (wishing to rescue and enjoy it) while complaining about rape culture as we now face it.  The heterosexism that powers rape culture cannot be the paradigm from which we fight rape culture because it places more of a premium on sexual conquest than it does on consent.

The demand that there always be a male and a female in relationships is the demand that there always be a conqueror and a conquered as a reflection of broader social norms and structures replicated in our workplaces, governments, academia and other spaces in which men live out their trashiness.  “That’s not true!  We believe in equality!” many heterosexists will say.  But if they did, they’d validate LGBTI persons, experiences and relationships as representative of authentic human experience as much as they do CIS-heterosexual lives and stories.  If they don’t, then consent isn’t the backbone of a “normal” relationship, in their world: conquest is.

There is no middle ground between these two extremes.  If we pretend there is, let us not act all shocked when the statistics for violence against women, especially black lesbians in townships who defy heterosexism’s demands, indicate we cannot centre heterosexuality without spiralling gender-based violence out of control, without finding horrendous intersections between heterosexism and other structural oppressions (classism, racism, etc.).

If we centre consent to displace conquest (or power, or dominance) and, consequently, heterosexism, in our experience of sexuality, we would have gone a long way towards erasing eradicating rape culture.  #MenAreTrash the heterosexual culture that produces rape culture and domestic abuse, and passes its frustrations off a battle against rape culture and domestic abuse.  It’s time to pick between heterosexism and women’s lives.  You cannot rescue women’s bodies and heterosexism at the same time, yet few, if any, who tweet #MenAreTrash feel any need to interrogate the relationship amongst these violences and norms, despite the relationship being resonant in the historical and contextual stickiness of that word, trash.

#MenAreTrash was borrowed indiscriminately from experiences found largely in respectably heterosexist Hotepist stories in which men overstepped the boundaries of soft-core patriarchy.  This went unquestioned because deep down inside, those who used the hashtag also desired patriarchy’s benefits without its baggage — so much so, they neither saw through it nor really heard where it was coming from.

Many jumping on this bandwagon aren’t fundamentally against patriarchy; they’re against patriarchy’s excesses and those excesses’ incompatibility with, and betrayal of, fantasies of “happily-ever-after” they could have gotten out of patriarchy and heterosexism.  They are performing patriarchy even as they claim to fight it.  If they spoke against homophobia and heterosexism as consistently as they do about everything men do wrong in more domestic and more familiarly heterosexist environments — from cheating to inflicting violence — then my feminist chord would be resonating with the men are trash note.  It isn’t.

At the end of the day, many of the women tweeting “men are trash” are still going to turn around, selectively benefit from the very patriarchy they sometimes take a stand against, and still remain oblivious to the struggles of the LGBTI community being killed, raped and murdered on their doorsteps.  Their primary allegiance is to the “normality” of heterosexuality and rescuing that from its own violence so they can return to it without critiquing it or their place in it more deeply than that.  They are feminist to the extent that they can get soft-core patriarchy to deliver on its promises and hold back on its excesses and its violence — but not its violence against queer bodies.  Why are homophobes not trash when hate crimes against LGBTI persons are reported?

I’ve paid my dues to the straight community.  Everyone — yes, everyone — from that world has already trashed me.  I get bonus points for double-trashiness, having been gay in a straight world and a man in a world where all men are rightly regarded as suspects.  The heterosexism that suffocated me then is no different from the heterosexism that suffocates you, but hey, why question the air you breathe?  So it’s okay if I don’t get brownie feminist points for not tweeting #MenAreTrash.  Look closely.  Those brownies aren’t brownies; they’re something really nasty that looks like brownies; that feminism is negotiated patriarchy dressed up to look like women’s empowerment.  It calls patriarchy’s bluff, but has no plans to fundamentally destroy it.

A similar argument gets made about white people, apartheid and ongoing structural racism.  It goes: the white people who passively benefitted from apartheid should be lumped together with those who actively drove apartheid.  If white people were serious about non-racism, they would take responsibility for the whole mess.

My issue here isn’t heterosexuality (just as the issue isn’t “whiteness” but Whiteness): it’s heterosexism and its beneficiaries refusal to take responsibility for perpetuating the gender inequality that’s inherent to their way of being when that way of being is centred as THE way of being

So as long as the voices of heterosexists who are simply trying to tame patriarchy instead of dismantling it are mistaken for feminist voices just because they can imitate them, you will worsen the problem even as you go about fighting it, and, I’m sorry to say it, women will be complicit.

 

Please follow, share and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

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Jacob Zuma is a Political Genius. Here’s Why.

Barring President Zuma’s untimely demise, there remain only two possible futures for South Africa. From the moment the new cabinet was announced, we’ve been choosing one of the futures without realising it.

Had we been serious about holding government to account — see South Korea, Brazil, and parts of the U.S — we’d have mobilised, occupied, barricaded roads and protested non-stop from yesterday, strategising on our feet. Something like last night’s reshuffle requires a quick show of public strength. You can’t over-plan it.

This future begins at immediate resistance from the moment we see an abuse of power. This the future we have not chosen.

We wouldn’t march and then go home to wait for an answer, nor sign petitions and wait for answers, nor wait for someone else to unseat Zuma. We’d disrupt everything — bearing in mind physical and legal risks — until we’d removed him.

But because we are South Africa, we waited:—

For EFF to defend approaching the Constitutional Court. The chances of anything coming from that are good enough to pursue it, but not enough to rely on it alone. Separation of Powers is real. They really seek to humiliate Zuma for political points. They will achieve spectacle, not change, because spectacle is the most political parties can offer by themselves right now.

We waited for the DA to persuade the Speaker to convene a sitting where the House would pass a motion of no confidence in the President, and for them to stop the swearing in of the new ministers. The latter hasn’t worked nor has the former worked in previous times. As for the anonymous ANC MPs that Mmusi Maimane mentioned, who’ve said they’ll vote for Zuma to go, they don’t exist until the public knows who they are. And not that I have heard any calls for it, but Speaker Baleka Mbethe would never allow a secret ballot because that would be a betrayal of Zuma. We are recycling tired tactics.

No political force that has the power to oust Zuma has the will, nor has any political force that has the will, the power. Zuma alone could theoretically have both, and he is not stepping down (not that there is anywhere lower for him to step down to).

Even Cyril Ramaphosa’s disagreeing with what the President did isn’t the same thing as openly disagreeing with the fact of his Presidency. If the Deputy President is fired, he’ll become a martyr and that has its own ramifications.

We waited, also, for mass resignations from cabinet and for more action from the SACP. We waited for the Top 6 to act. They chose their words so carefully; we called those revelations “damning” and too quickly gave their speakers credit before they had acted on those revelations. They did not act because they were only acting surprised.

We waited ourselves into Zuma’s trap.

What he’s done this time is too big to undo. He can’t reinstate 3 out of the 6 fired ministers, for example, let alone undo the 20-piece reshuffle. Trying to reverse any of it would only embarrass the country further. Had it been one minister, he could be frog-marched to undo it. Who decides where he should start fixing this?

Before this was done, it was too daring to be done. Now that he has done it, no one can dare him to undo it. Those who have the will have not the power; those who have the power have not the will. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” and Zuma knows it.

The shock-and-awe (or “rapid dominance”) military doctrine calls for overwhelming displays of power that demoralise and paralyse opponents. For having used it, Zuma is stronger than he was when he first called then-Minister Pravin Gordhan from London.

“If Zuma can stay in power for another week,” a friend mused, “he would have survived this and emerged stronger.” Another replied, “Every 24 hours that pass with him in power make it more likely he will make it to the end of this week.” In Christopher Nolan’s movie Interstellar, there is a planet whose proximity to a black hole means an hour spent there is the equivalent of seven earth years (this is time dilation).

The gravitational forces on Planet Zuma mean every second he is in power allow him to wreak earth-years’ worth of havoc. He appoints and disappoints his ministers at unheard-of hours, knowing well that ordinary South Africans will confront him for it in the safety and convince of their own time — when we can take time off from our very busy lives.

Opposition parties, civil society, clergy and other entities have made plans for legal challenges, parliamentary moves, marches and the like. These plans may end up diverting legitimate anger into hamster-wheel freneticism that serves only the reputations of the organisations that arrange and parade their speakers, singers and causes at these events. Remember a particular anti-Zuma march. We went. We crossed the Mandela bridge. We crossed back. It was a “success” and we felt great.

But Zuma didn’t fall.

A protest march ends when marchers leave. An #Occupy ends when the target (Zuma) leaves. Any politicians that could have fought Zuma now knows that South Africans will march and leave before Zuma has been forced to leave. We show up, but never stay up, long enough to ensure that Zuma falls to never do to a Gordhan what he did to a Nene. We have used up all our good guys. Would you trust us to back you?

In this future Zuma, will cash in what remains of the ANC’s brand equity and the country’s economy. He and his political generation will have no need of those burdens after 2019. Whoever wins the ANC Presidential race may become opposition leader in 2019 not because of anything the ANC has done, but because of what the last 24 hours have enabled Zuma to do in the next 24 months.

If he shock-and-awe nuked us yesterday, watch him go nuclear.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

 

 

Judgment Day: ANC Politicians Must Unseat Zuma or Leave the Party

Today, struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada was laid to rest. Former President Kgalema Motlanthe took this opportunity to read out Kathrada’s unanswered letter to President Jacob Zuma, in which the President is challenged to resign.

This got me thinking about a tendency amongst the “good” ANC politicians to throw Jacob Zuma under the bus, subtly or otherwise. I also thought of how our usual response is to applaud and cheer.

Can we please not laud those politicians who have Damascus Road revelations or challenge the NEC to resign, until they themselves leave?

I fear by the time the ANC’s “good cops” rescue us from the ANC’s “bad cops” there will be nothing left to rescue. We are those frogs in that pot in that boiling water, acclimatising to a temperature that’s killing us when we should be leaping out.

We can’t separate the ANC from the situation our country is in, both the good and bad. This implicates everyone in the ANC for all of it.

No South African can legitimately opt out of falling under laws the ANC uses its majority to pass in parliament. To support the ANC is to agree that the party should have the greatest say in the way parliament passes laws and scrutinises the actions of the Executive. So the argument that the ANC isn’t wholly responsible serves no one except the ANC.

The dollar doesn’t discriminate between citizens who said, “yes” to the President’s financially risky decisions from those who said, “no” to them. When we go nuclear, the bill isn’t going to land with those citizens who agreed to nuclear power. We may be near Passover, but no lamb’s blood on any doorpost is going to exempt any of us from whatever happens in Lootuli House (sorry, Chief Albert Luthuli).

Therefore, distinguishing the ANC from the decisions made by its leadership gives the party protections no human being in this country has, and that, at the citizen’s expense. People would be left with no choice but to join the ANC in order to enjoy the rights taken from people and given to the party. I submit everyone in the ANC knows this; that is why they remain in there. Life is easier for those who love the party more than the country that the party abuses.

Another example is crime. Criminals don’t knowingly pick victims who said, “yes” to the ANC’s crime-fighting leadership, or lack thereof, over those who said, “no” to it: we’re all victims and victors of the consequences of the ANC’s leadership in this regard. Once again, separating the ANC from the consequences of decisions made by its deployees, when citizens can’t be separated from those consequences, gives the ANC rights no human being can enjoy — at cost to human rights.

Those people in the ANC who “see the light” and speak up are only in a position where their voices count for more because we’ve let the citizens’ count for less. We did this each time we centred their denouncements of Zuma without demanding their exit from the party Zuma leads. They’re not heroes; they’ve thieves, albeit indirectly, benefiting from the mess they’re criticising.

They seem more exposed to harm for speaking out, but that’s why they’re safer — their publicity shields them and puts a higher premium on their blood while the blood of ordinary South Africans outside the ANC can be bought and sold for 30 pieces of silver. Remember Marikana.

They are not heroes. There’s no risk for them. We need to stop applauding them for saying what others are saying (but go unheard, because they are voiceless) and demand they exit the party.

Thank you.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

That book is almost done working on me. 

Why We’re Not Singapore

Assuming Singapore is perfect (a discussion for another day) and where we’d like to go, why are we taking so long get there?  Is it that we’re not drawing on the gifts that colonialism bestowed upon us?  As Western Cape Premier Helen Zille tweeted:

“Would we have had a transition into specialised health care and medication without colonial influence?”

and,

“For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”

The previous blog post answered — at the risk of making it sound as though whose ancestors built what toys is the measure of civilisation — that Africa had specialised health care, medication, impressive (if not “independent”) judicial systems, as well as transport and water systems that were on par with or ahead of anyone else’s, before colonialism.

That post also said the anthropologist jury is still out on whether a civilisation’s development is dependent on the duration for which its people are settled and their infrastructure maintained, or dependent on cycles of conflict, displacement and resettling.  Either way, bearing in mind that it had just been settled by Bantu people from further up north (not forgetting the Khoi-San), the region we now call Southern Africa was, by Eurocentric standards, relatively “civilised” by the early 17th century.

Zille’s view not only passively says to take advantage of what colonialism left behind; it actively says we’d have to have gone through colonialism to advance as Singapore did.  That undermines everyone except the colonialist while failing to judge said colonialist for his crimes against humanity.  That smacks of white supremacy.

There’s a reason Helen Zille felt the need to tweet that at this discursive moment.  South Africans are under a lot of pressure, especially economically.  Politically, we’re feeling helpless.  When something is squeezed like we’re being, what’s on the inside starts coming out.  If you squeezed something you’d thought was an orange but its juice was sour, you’d start wondering whether it was a lemon or a grapefruit instead.  Likewise, if you squeeze our Rainbow Nation, and white supremacist thoughts start flowing out, then perhaps our economic and political issues are symptoms of that identity crisis.  Misidentifying South Africa as “new” when its thinking is fundamentally old is akin to getting your name wrong at the start of a test.  In the unlikely event that you could still remember the correct answers after that, your mark would still be misallocated.

The reason our strengths don’t match Singapore’s is that one party that could arguably take us there — the DA that Helen Zille is a member of — insists on being a victim of its own success.  When it explains its governance successes, in none of its statements, articles, or other communication does it say, “A significant number of our core members and network of service providers achieved these results because they got major head-starts under apartheid, which the party therefore benefits from.”  For then, restitutions would be unavoidable.

We can describe the DA as non-racial and non-racist until we’re blue in the face (to match the flag), but it would be more responsible of us to admit that a significant number of South Africans believe the DA exists to protect white interests, despite having heard arguments to the contrary.  We’d logically extend that responsibility into the way we explain the DA’s successes, conceding that the DA started out with a structurally unfair advantage.  These wouldn’t be concessions to empty populism; they’d be giving others’ views the benefit of the doubt.  What happens if we don’t take this approach?

The DA’s Penny Sparrows, Dianne Kohler Barnards and Helen Zilles still unconsciously believe corruption and incompetence are inherent to majorly black political parties, whereas good governance and ethics are inherent to majorly white ones (or colonialists) — and they’ll say that on social media.

We could have had an ANC that was as corruption-free as the DA, or we could have had both parties’ members start off on similar economic bases in their private capacities and their respective networks.  But we’re being dangerously naïve if we tell ourselves we could have transitioned into healthy democracy without reparations, and have nothing go terribly wrong.  There are no free lunches in the universe.

At dog-whistle politics’ pitch, we’re explaining “black corruption” and “incompetence” without reference to this initial disparity or the presence of racial bias in the way we ruminate on, say, state capture by persons of varying skin colours — and then we’re shocked to discover that people like Helen Zille think colonialism was beneficial.

The intellectual white supremacy Zille openly tweets of is a natural flowering of the moral white superiority that’s been assumed all along.  This is why black people would rather countenance the ANC get away with murder than vote the DA into power.  They can hear the dog-whistle messaging.  (And yes, I know I have said a lot of this before.  Do I at least get marks for consistency?)

We’re not Singapore because the impulse that causes us to look to colonialism to make us a Singapore is indistinguishable from the impulse that divides us into coloniser and colonised, undermining the latter to justify the former — while we delude ourselves into thinking our identity is Rainbow Nation.  The juice that comes out when you squeeze is racism.

We’re not going to be Singapore until we figure out how to be who we say we are first.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

I’m nearing the final stages of that book working on me.

“It Isn’t Afrophobia or Xenophobia” Sounds a Lot Like #AllLivesMatter

There are three sources of “alternative facts” we need to be wary of: the devil, Donald Trump and the ANC War-room.  And right now, I’m not so sure the last isn’t the first in disguise.

Last week, a lot of ANC comrades on my Facebook echoed President Zuma’s explanation that the planned march against illegal immigrants, and the subsequent violence, weren’t a manifestation of xenophobia but of people’s frustration at crime and a stagnant economy.

This presupposes crime and unemployment are a relatively new thing in South Africa.  “South Africans don’t really hate foreign nationals; they just hate the ones who are responsible for this recent explosion in crime and unemployment — which makes their enemy not foreign nationals, but crime and unemployment.”  For if crime and unemployment have been around for a long time, contrary to this explanation, it would mean foreign nationals are being punished in government’s place for government’s failures.

If a local and a foreigner committed the same crime, we’d be more likely to notice the foreigner doing it.  We’d even believe the foreigner invented this crime.  This is especially the case when said foreigner is darker skinned; then we’ll credit him with running the whole “black market” of vices and crimes that everyone, our own included, are implicit in.  Because black is the colour of evil and criminality.

Nowhere is this double-standard more revealed than in the complaint, “We tried reporting them to police, but the police were bribed.”  Were these bribable police one of “them” or one of “us”?  If one of us, then the difference between “them” and “us” only exists in our head so we can shift responsibility.  Our police took the bribes.  They took the proceeds of the crimes; this alone proves that “their” crimes are our crimes.  Furthermore,

We have two white men who own half of everything and a white populace who own almost everything else.

We have a black Zulu president with 783 corruption charges hanging over his head and a questionable cabinet behind him, which is also quite black South African.

We have done very little, collectively, to make this cabinet do its job and enforce the letter as well as the spirit of the legislation we have in place.  On paper, we have every reason to be a prosperous nation.  Why aren’t we?

We recently had an Indian family leave, peacefully, with the proceeds of alleged state capture.

Any relatively light-skinned race can get away with murder here.  But the split moment Africans of blacker skin tone are perceived to be running some “black market” of crimes and vices, we sanction marches against them that we know will turn violent.  If this isn’t a xenophobic-Afrophobic double-standard, then please tell me: what is xenophobia?  What would something have to look like to be Afrophobic?

Would Moses have to come down from the mountain to tell us, “Yes, this is Afrophobic”?  Would God’s voice have to boom it from heaven?  Please.

A dark-skinned vendor I used to buy fruit from at a street corner in Durban told me that whenever xenophobic attacks were happening, people, fresh from hunting foreigners, would glare at her and strike up conversations in Zulu — and she’d make sure to reply in the strongest Zulu accent she could pull off.  Because she knew she was being profiled.  She was being tested.

So yes, we, black people, are racially profiling other black people.  That’s what’s happening.  That is why people in Nigeria hate our guts.

If #AllLivesMatter is how many have denied the reality of structural racism, we are doing exactly the same thing when we say, “It Isn’t Afrophobia or Xenophobia.”

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Look out for my book — it’s coming soon!

Is Helen Zille Campaigning for the ANC?

If the Western Cape Premier and former DA Leader is merely confusing on Twitter, she was mystifying in her Daily Maverick opinionista contribution, From the Inside: Zuma’s Alternative Facts for the Alt-Left.

It can be read as saying Jacob Zuma and his ANC aren’t absolutely terrible for South Africa.  Things can work significantly well, even if it’s despite them.  They don’t have to be “stopped as soon as possible,” as the DA’s urgent messaging normally pleads; their influence can be bypassed.  As a matter of fact, Zuma could steal more credit for successes that have happened despite him instead of embarrassing our (otherwise functional) country in front of the world.

Gareth van Onselen pointed out a similar dissonance in the DA’s messaging when it lauded the ANC of Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela.  Instead of positioning itself as fundamentally different from it at policy and implementation level, the DA was saying the ANC had a leadership crisis but could be left to run South Africa once that had been sorted.  That, van Onsenel argues, creates zero compelling incentive to switch for good.

Zille’s article mentions the Financial Mail’s “breathtaking exposé” on how “the Zuma network had used the State’s electricity generation-and-distribution monopoly to enrich the Zupta circle.”  Is she not reiterating what became broad public knowledge after State of Capture was released?  Since then, the ANC has said investigation on state capture has to include “white monopoly capital” and not just focus on brown-skinned beneficiaries of corruption.  The Premier acts as though she’s missed that more South Africans believe in the existence of “white monopoly capital” than before, and rightly or not, that her constituency has a log in its eye while pointing out specks in others’ eyes.

It is against this backdrop that the ANC’s unstated reason for pushing the Bankorp-ABSA uncovering, for revelling in rating agencies’ tacit admission of pro-West bias in Moody’s agreeing to pay a fine for its role in the 2008 meltdown, is it shows what’s commonly thought of as white power being as corrupt as what’s commonly thought of as black power.  Even former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has remarked on the increased frequency of the use of “white monopoly capital” in public conversations about justice.

This is ANC-style dog-whistle politics, messaging at a pitch mostly black people will hear.  The ruling party’s implicit ultimatum to its constituency is it has one of two possible futures to choose from.  The ANC-led future, which is hell, and a DA-led future is one in which government works well but the economy continues being defined by over 50 years’ worth of White Economic Empowerment.  This is black hell.

The article further plays into the ANC’s trap by dismissing affirmative action as “the fig-leaf Zuma calls Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, which is in reality a flimsy cover for bribe-based black elite enrichment” while failing to suggest alternative legislation to ensure black people catch up to the effects of apartheid’s White Economic Empowerment.

For the benefit of those who are otherwise unfamiliar with the DA’s proposed solutions to poverty (“war on grime,” anyone?), Zille could have replaced some of her article with the DA’s thinking on how to address apartheid’s legacy.  But she didn’t — because she, too, is playing at dog-whistle politics, and that article’s target audience was wealthy people.

After citing “the real” statistics on restitution, she says, “The facts do not suit [Zuma’s] strategy” for survival.  Is she saying that overall, we aren’t drowning in economic difference along racial lines?  If that’s the case, then what’s wrong with the current administration other than failing to take enough credit for the good that’s happened despite its failings?  Why should ANC voters switch to the DA?

She unwittingly traps herself between two positions: BEE has been a smokescreen, and we now ought to “clear the air” by moving on to something more investor-friendly (read: non-racial, and therefore extremely racist).  She’s saying this now — when everyone’s screaming Black Consciousness and Wokeness?

The other position says racial economic difference isn’t that real, so the ANC’s biggest mistake is using SONA to push its agendas for problems that have already been solved when they could draw for credit for the solutions.  Again, this makes the DA less compelling an alternative.

This argues the official opposition right off of the political equation.  But of course, for the DA is a business interest group that occasionally dabbles in politics.

Its goal isn’t to win elections.  Its message won’t be absorbed by more than 30% of South Africans.  Commercially speaking, this absorption rate is enough for them to politically protect business interests.

The Gospel of post-racial trickle-down economics won’t bring about the political realignment South Africa needs.  But it doesn’t have to; it need only convince the existing DA voter base that it someday will.  For if that base understood that the DA isn’t there for the distance, it would lose its motivation to vote.

Winning national elections would be more than the DA bargained for.  That’s why its people are campaigning for the ANC.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

More Vlog Posts!

Happy Friday!

Two things.

There is a vlog post on the ABSA/Bankorp scandal, this is especially pertinent since the ANCYL paid the bank’s Durban branch an unexpected visit.

After Somizi schooled Grace Bible Church about the dangers of hypocrisy, Zakhele Mbhele, the first openly gay African Member of Parliament, shared a few words of wisdom and encouragement for LGBTI youth who may be concerned about religious homophobia.
Write-ups coming soon.

Thank you so much.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

There is a book working on me coming out later this year… 

Who Is Fooling Whom? (On Current Political Sentiment)

What have

Cyril Ramaphosa

Helen Zille

Jacob Zuma

Julius Malema

Nelson Mandela

Thuli Madonsela

got in common?

They’re populist demagogues.

Lesson 1: Politics is Business

Getting people to buy into a governance vision package is more an expensive exercise than ordinarily expected.  It involves lobbying business, labour, church, environmentalists, civil society  and so on.  Law firms find their way into the mix.

So the politician’s deepest allegiance is to donors who fund the logistics of  schmoozing these prospective stakeholders until they think he or she is God’s gift to politics.  The costs vary wildly.  Mining bosses like expensive drinks; prospective voters like KFC.  The KFC packages for all the prospective voters who eat KFC probably total up to the same price as just one of the mine boss’s drinks.  And some people can drink.  So though campaigning involves telling voters that they’re the buyers, they’re the bosses, they’re actually the product being sold to funders; more fundamentally, they are slaves picking their own slave-masters with government as go-between through the ruling party.  You get said voters to agree to this transaction by having a “good story to tell” about how they’re the primary beneficiaries.

Politicians call this tweak of perspective, “campaigning.”  A little child, unfettered by the moral complexities of adulting, would call it “lying.”  Imagine if children got to vote…

Which leads us to the second point.

2.) Politics Is the Art of Brainwashing People While Convincing Them that Their Superior Control of Their Own (Impeccable) Thought Processes Make Them Impervious to Brainwashing

Think about how often you’ve heard the word “populist” bandied about recently.

It’s become an accusation by the middle class / “the learned” that Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma use frustrations instead of “the truth” to get votes.  The implication is that poor people are more impressionable.

But this allows the upper classes / “the educated” to locate the ultimate explanation for poverty in poor people themselves so they, the well-off, may absolve themselves of benefitting from systems that impoverish those poor.  Believing that the status quo and the rules upholding it are fair enough that everyone has a decent chance at life is how the rich sleep better at night.  The nice cotton sheets probably help too.

The implication is that the poor are to blame for their circumstances — perhaps because they vote in politicians who don’t uphold the Constitution as they should.  You also see identity politics not just critiqued but criticized as though the critics’ real intentions aren’t as obvious as the bigger suburban houses and cars they live in and drive.

Where do the educated / rich get these ideas from?  They get them when they believe that some politicians are demagogues while others are not-demagogues but noble, heroic “truth-tellers.”  They must believe this story to justify the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed, and then, to put the cherry on top, say it is the poor whose desperation makes them more susceptible to emotional manipulation.

The Housewives may have lived on Wisteria Lane, but they, too, were desperate.

3.) Politics is Theatre 

I don’t want to sound cynical, nor do I mean to trample on the great, heartfelt work done by our noblest “heroes of the day.”  But when someone is congratulated, thanked or awarded for serving the state well, he or she is being praised for maintaining the illusion that the status quo and the laws pertaining thereto are just and worth fighting for; that there is a system to put faith in.

The “impartial”  media is there to frame and communicate this drama of heroes and villains to us.  We buy into it, believing it is as real as people thought Ntsiki Lukhele from Generations was all those years ago when they attacked the actress who played her, Pamela Nomvete.  Or Cherel De Villiers Haines when they attacked Michelle Botes.  So Thuli Madonsela: good; protagonist.  Jacob Zuma: bad; antagonist.

But are we not just responding as the politicians’ primary clients (the 1% who own 50% of everything) want us to?  Look at the evidence.

ABSA was pulled into scandal with leaked Public Protector’s provisional report.  Report found State should have made Bank pay back undue benefit it gained in its acquisition of Bankorp, which was beneficiary of apartheid-era corruption.

Did this investigation not take this long to spill into broad public awareness because The System cannot have politicians telling their clients that they’re visibly implicated as the bad guys — as Ntsiki Lukhele, as Cherel De Villiers Haines — of the drama those donors commissioned the politicians to make in order to take attention away from their offstage existence?

It is like that time South Africans were more fascinated by the drama between Generations producer Mfundi Vunda and the cast of the soapie than they were by the storyline of Generations itself.

What we are seeing is the ANC blackmail white monopoly capital, so-called, with the prospect of exposing its role as producer / scriptwriter if it does not stop sending investigators after the party.

The political drama only works as long as the gentlemen’s agreement of not uncovering one another’s most damning sins is maintained.

4.) Politics is Chess

If the ANC were sincere about reversing injustice for its own sake and not just keeping capital in check, its response to the provisional report would have underscored that Apartheid-era crime didn’t prejudice “South Africa” in the abstract; concretely speaking, many white people were enriched by it, and many black people harmed by it.

And if Thuli Madonsela could say she was not going to accept questions about whether the provisional leaked report had been tampered with (which says it was), then neither am I going to say if the ANC were sincere about reversing injustice for its own sake and not just holding capital hostage, it would have told Busi Mkhwebane to tamper with report findings (before arranging for its leak as though it were a sex tape or Hip-Hop single) to end with a stronger, more quotable, more sound-bitable reminder that the people prejudiced were black.   It did not end this way sufficiently to penetrate the media statements on the report.

ANC apathy towards black exploitation for its donors and stakeholders is wholly incompatible actual liberation.  For black poverty is not a problem to be addressed; it is a resource to be harnessed.  Desperate people (are supposed to) accept desperate wages.  Remember Marikana.

5.) Politics is About Stalling Justice

Cecil John Rhodes said UCT would be built “out of the Kaffir’s stomach” as would just about everything else.

It is the noon of apartheid.  A company has two labourers.  One is white; the other is black.  Job reservation says the white person has a more covetable job and higher salary than the black person.  Structured efficiently, this discriminatory labour practice makes the company more profitable, which, if there are enough companies run like this, makes South Africa look more investor-friendly (until the world decides apartheid is morally odious or economically unviable or both).

The State can also tax these companies or their employee incomes harder.  It benefits whichever way; it’s either selling its country as an investor’s dream, or using tax money to bail out banks that are funding white people things that otherwise would not  be funded.  The apartheid state gets to enjoy the thrill and patina of capitalism without doing away with the artificial mechanations of the communism it purports to protect its white voters and business stakeholders from.  Because your impeccable thought processes.

How else do you get the edifice of white supremacy built, unless white people who can’t afford suburban houses get loans from banks that are being bailed out; unless white people who have no capital are lent money to start businesses, at really low rates?

So when white supremacists tell you, “We white people built this country,” please paraphrase Jesus in your response: “Therefore you testify against yourselves that you are the children of them that used black blood, sweat and tears to build what you so eagerly take credit for having built.”

When we separate “good” politicians from “bad” ones in government, we’re saying that the laws we have in place are inherently just, they’re worth fighting for, there is a system to put faith in, and those politicians we’ve deemed “good” have fought well for it.  But is there such a system?

I’m going to make a #Scandal / #TheFixer reference, and yes, this blog will reference Shonda Rhimes’s series without warning.

On one episode, the Vice President was asked to sign a drafted bill intended to decrease the incidence of unarmed black men being shot by white police officers.

To everyone’s surprise, the Vice President insisted she’d have to read the whole bill again — not just the parts that had been amended, but the whole document, before signing it.

After reading it, she refused to sign it off.  Her reason?  “It’s a bunch of requests; it’s unenforceable.”  It was designed to give the impression that the issue had absorbed the government’s efforts.  But priorities and political will were split among too many conflicting interests for the drafters to actually solve the problem they were making a great show of solving.  Its intended end was a quiet death by a thousand compromises.  In the Vice President’s understanding, to quote a review I read long ago, “A bill that would effect no consequences would, in the long run, turn out worse than no bill at all.”

What if our Constitution was a bunch of requests?

What if its intended end was a quiet death by a thousand compromises?

What if, insofar as it speaks to racial inequality, its requests are unenforceable — and that, by design?

What if its purpose was to give us all the impression that somewhere in all the ceremonying and awarding and thanking, there had been found enough alignment along enough interests for a solution to emerge?

The ANC’s losses at local government elections last year weren’t a sign that the party is in decline or that it has to get rid of Jacob Zuma.  Rather, they were a sign that the ANC has used up every card it could play without sacrificing “white monopoly capital.”  The race card has neither expired nor is it exhausted; it remains valid for at least as long as apartheid ran or until the funds apartheid stole are transferred back.

Contrary to the white-populist narrative the DA would have you believe, you can still swipe the race card in South Africa.  Unlike a lot of other things here, it happens to still work just fine.

6.) Politics is War

Does the ANC have enough time to properly implement the BEE that could have possibly addressed public frustration at racial inequality?

Or will its survival lie in white Jesus’s atonement crucifixion?

Will the drama turn to action and the unreal into reality?

Whoever you are and whatever your race: if you have a God, start praying.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

There is a book working on me; watch this space

First Vlog Post

Hello!

A lot of people have said to try vlogging.  Here is the first video.  Write-up coming soon!

Uploading the content ended up taking days longer than I expected.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy.  Remember, this is the first time I’ve “blogged” this way so there’s still a long way to go before I start getting it right.

Thank you so much.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

Book coming soon