LIS­TEN TO THE LU­NATIC FRINGE

CityPress - - Front Page - Mondli Makhanya voices@city­press.co.za

It is usu­ally wise to ig­nore the ram­blings and rant­ings of the lu­natic fringe – or rather what some per­ceive to be the lu­natic fringe. But there are times when this fringe is very main­stream. In which case, ig­nore it at your peril. So it was with this at­ti­tude that we greeted a very ex­pres­sive press re­lease from the ANC Youth League’s KwaZulu-Natal chap­ter last week. The press re­lease, an­nounc­ing mass ac­tion to be taken against op­po­si­tion par­ties and the ju­di­ciary, went on to threaten fire and brim­stone. The youth league was peeved about the reg­u­lar dis­rup­tions of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s speeches in Par­lia­ment and what it sees as op­po­si­tion par­ties’ abuse of the courts to get one over on the ANC.

The league’s pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary, Than­dux­olo Sa­belo, had par­tic­u­larly harsh words for Julius Malema’s Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF), say­ing it had un­cov­ered an EFF plot to desta­bilise South Africa and “in­sti­gate a civil war”.

The EFF, Sa­belo told us, had re­alised it stood no chance against the ANC elec­torally and had “there­fore opted to tac­ti­cally in­cite a civil war and take up arms ... in or­der to stage a mil­i­tary coup against the ANC gov­ern­ment”.

He warned Malema that he would “feel the might of the young peo­ple in KwaZulu-Natal should he set his stinky feet in the province”.

Then Sa­belo got a bit more ag­gro: “We wish to warn the EFF that the young peo­ple of this coun­try are com­bat ready to take on this party of loud-hail­ers and dis­rupters.” Com­bat ready? Are we go­ing to war now? He con­tin­ued: “We call on all young peo­ple of South Africa to en­sure that they squeeze the breath­ing space of the EFF and en­sure the un­avoid­able ex­tinc­tion of these men­aces in our so­ci­ety.”

Ex­tinc­tion? Like, wipe them out?

He was not done: “We also call upon the min­is­ter of de­fence and mil­i­tary vet­er­ans to step up ef­forts in giv­ing mil­i­tary train­ing to pro­gres­sive and pa­tri­otic young peo­ple in the coun­try in or­der for them to de­fend this coun­try from hooli­gans such as Julius Malema.” What? As in learn­ing to shoot and kill peo­ple? He con­tin­ued his dire threats, warn­ing that his troops would ac­com­pany Zuma and pro­tect him when he next ap­peared in Par­lia­ment: “Any fool who tries and dis­rupt Pres­i­dent Zuma will have to come out to us and ac­count on the Par­lia­ment precinct,” Sa­belo said. Pre­sum­ably to be beaten up by the young lions. The most ob­vi­ous thing to do with such rant­ings is to ap­pre­ci­ate them for their en­ter­tain­ment value. But the en­vi­ron­ment we are in sug­gests we do not dis­miss the state­ments as com­ing from the overex­cited mind of a mil­i­tant youth.

It is the lan­guage of anger that is so preva­lent in the land right now. You hear it in the benches of Par­lia­ment, on both sides of the aisle. This anger is al­ways there in ser­vice-de­liv­ery protests, which in­evitably turn vi­o­lent. You will find it at univer­si­ties, where some of our bright­est young­sters com­mu­ni­cate by trash­ing cam­puses.

The work­place also con­tains a lot of anger, as ev­i­denced by the now manda­tory use of vi­o­lence to en­force strikes and win con­ces­sions from em­ploy­ers.

The other rea­son that Sa­belo’s rant­ings should not just be dis­missed is that they ac­com­pany some very in­tem­per­ate out­bursts from the se­nior ranks of the gov­ern­ing party.

This week the party made of­fi­cial what in­di­vid­ual lead­ers have been mouthing for some time: that a frontal as­sault needs to be launched against the ju­di­ciary. In re­cent weeks, se­nior lead­ers of the ANC have been out-shout­ing each other in their con­dem­na­tion of the ju­di­ciary, drum­ming the mes­sage into the heads of South Africans that this in­sti­tu­tion is an en­emy of the revo­lu­tion. A cli­mate is be­ing cre­ated for the dele­git­imi­sa­tion of the ju­di­ciary, a sce­nario that will ul­ti­mately lead to the dis­cred­it­ing of judg­ments and un­der­min­ing of the rule of law.

Com­ing out of a sum­mit in Gaut­eng this week, lead­ers of the ANC-led al­liance made bareknuck­led ges­tures at the coun­try’s judges, warn­ing them against “ju­di­cial over­reach”.

They said this over­reach was “bring­ing into ques­tion the very fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers on which our democ­racy rests. Judg­ments of cer­tain re­gions and judges are con­sis­tently against the state,” they com­plained.

The mes­sage to the judges was straight­for­ward: we are com­ing for you.

As the ANC pre­pares for its na­tional gen­eral coun­cil in the com­ing months, watch out for in­creased bel­liger­ence from the party. Look out for wacky state­ments that be­tray a sense of siege and the need to fight mul­ti­ple en­e­mies on mul­ti­ple fronts. Look out for doc­u­ments that will be shrouded in rev­o­lu­tion­ary-speak, but at the core will con­tain pro­pos­als that may weaken the demo­cratic in­fra­struc­ture.

When you hear and see these de­vel­op­ments, do not dis­miss them as the mus­ings of a loony fringe. They come from the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal cen­tre.

And be wor­ried.

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