The Kgalema and Mbeki unholy alliance is rooted in historical defeat
Lazarus Baloyi, Ward Councilor Lim345 Municipality
Kgalema Motlanthe is certainly on a crusade. And there seems no stopping to rein him in. Fresh from the excoriation by the deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte for being opportunistic and reckless for reading the letter penned by Ahmed Kathrada, Motlanthe is reported to have indicated that ANC Members of Parliament cannot face disciplinary charges for voting in favour of the motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma. This is serious stuff coming from a man who served as secretary general and deputy president of the ANC.
In this Motlanthe is not alone. He is joined in this regard by the former President Thabo Mbeki.
Mbeki’s entry into this matter is to be expected. It would seem that former President Mbeki’s self-serving public service gets into an overdrive every time and whenever he thinks President Zuma is in trouble. He would stop at nothing to encourage revolt against President Zuma. His attempt in sophistry is a pot pouri of misrepresentation, intellectual and political dishonesty. He writes;
“There is absolutely no MP who sits in Parliament by virtue of being elected by the Political Party to which they might belong‚ including those who subsequently get elected by Parliament to serve as Head of State and Government.”
This is patently false. The truth is simple. Ours is a proportional political party electoral system in which parties contest for votes. No MP contest for election.
Mbeki goes further in his letter: “All MPs‚ of all Political Parties‚ serve as Members of Parliament because they are elected by the people of South Africa and are therefore accountable to this electorate – the people of South Africa!” This again is sophistry. The people of South Africa are represented in parliament through political parties. No matter how much he tries, Mbeki will not succeed in his attempt to underplay the role of Political Parties.
In their representations, both Mbeki and Motlanthe have urged the ANC MPs to vote according to their conscience, almost suggesting that removal of the ANC President is in the interest of the country. In so doing, they harp on the SAVE SA’s false narrative that reduces the country’s challenges to a choice between President Zuma and the country. In this narrative, no proof is provided on how the removal of President Zuma will suddenly address the country’s problems. If anything, the removal of a President who still enjoys a sizeable constituency will in all probability plunge the country into a social and political turmoil.
The Mbeki and Motlanthe’s unholy alliance is not hard to explain. They are both historical rejects by members at the ANC elective conferences of 2007 and 2012 respectively. They were both outsmarted in political game of chess by President Zuma. Their pain of loss is understandable in light of the fact that at the time of contest, they were the darlings of the media and the chattering classes. They believed in their own lies which resulted in some of the most embarrassing and humiliating political defeats.
From their past actions and pronouncement, the two former leaders have been preoccupied with ensuring that President Zuma suffers the same fate they had gone through. In doing so, they have taken their eyes off the ball. The removal of President Zuma will not address the challenges facing the majority of the people of this country. The challenges were ably articulated by none other than Kgalema Motlanthe at the 52nd National Conference.
Motlanthe noted that the challenges that need to be addressed include the fact that large numbers of South Africans remain mired in poverty, and that the majority of Africans “are least able to take advantage of the opportunities that exist; whilst poverty has declined, income inequality has worsened; large numbers of workers remain unemployed, or are casual and informal workers; there remain backlogs in service delivery; there are questions about the overall capacity of the economy to grow at higher rates without occasioning serious imbalances; the HIV and AIDS pandemic and other communicable diseases are still exacting a devastating impact on society; the scourges of crime and corruption continue to chip at the fabric of society and undermine individual and community safety.”
These challenges remain true today as they did then. Interestingly, the current malaise that the ANC finds itself has its roots during the reign of Mbeki as President and Motlanthe as Secretary General of the ANC. One only has to take a peek at Motlanthe’s 2007 Secretary General Report at the 52nd ANC Elective Conference. Motlanthe noted
“Reports of `gate-keeping`, `ghost members` `commercialisation of membership`, `rent-a-member` and other forms of fraudulent and manipulative practices that seek to influence the outcome of elective process remain much too widespread…. Many of our problems relate to the inability to ensure that members are active participants in the political life of the movement, especially through the branches. The Constitution declares, ‘every member of the ANC shall belong to a branch’”.
This was a case of a CEO of a company complaining about the sorry state of a company instead of fixing the company.
It is possible that Mbeki’s attack on Zuma is an attempt to airbrush from his history the most regrettable moment in South Africa’s democracy. Mbeki’s attempt to rewrite history provoked a flurry of responses. For his part Professor Makgoba had this to say;
“When so many lives and talent were lost and so much untold suffering occurred in our country, that Mbeki seems to show no remorse, unable to simply say “HIV causes Aids” but hell-bent on using outdated statistics and wrong medical definitions and assumptions in his long latest letter is not only astounding but also so regrettable. The letter removes any lingering doubt or ambiguity about his true stance: dissident and denialism. As a country we have moved decisively away from the voodoo, reputationally-damaging and ignorant days of Mbeki’s ill-advised, ill-informed and pernicious policies on HIV/Aids and evidence is everywhere for us to be proud and confident that we are on the correct path and with scientifically proven evidence-based sound health policies” (The Star, 10/03/2016)
Professor Makgoba concludes by reminding us of the effect of Mbeki’s reign had on our health system. Quoting a Harvard study, Makgoba argues that “with an estimated 330 000 deaths during his reign, as a result of “failure to accept the use of available ARVs, perhaps as South Africans we should seriously consider a case of “crimes against humanity” to the International Court of Justice.”
Interestingly, this tragic period in our democracy coincided with the time when the majority of the now #ZumaMustFall brigade where at the helm of government. One wished that their love for the lives of Africans would have galvanized them into action in the same way that their hatred for President Zuma seems to do. What utter hypocrisy! Or is it also a case of trying to bury their own complicity to the unnecessary loss of lives during that inglorious moment in our democracy!
The focus on President Zuma is understandable. For opponents of transformation, it helps the country to shift from the real issues and to kill or delay as it were any prospect of radical economic transformation that the ANC has embarked on.
Lazarus Baloyi, Ward Councilor Lim345 Municipality