No more crazy theories, please C
osatu president Sdumo Dlamini went down fantasy lane this week, outdoing some of the world’s most ardent conspiracy theorists.
This was not new, of course. These conspiracies are par for the course among those who populate South Africa’s upper echelons.
In his speech to Cosatu’s Gauteng provincial congress, Dlamini painted a comprehensive picture of the crimes that imperialists were perpetrating across the globe. It was like one of those bizarre illuminati-type theories you find on obscure loony websites. You know, the ones that tell you about how the Illuminati run the world? They will wax on and give you detailed evidence as to why celebrities such as Jay Z, Rihanna and Angelina Jolie are members of the organisation.
In Dlamini’s world, the Illuminati are the imperialists who are supposedly behind every conceivable crisis in the world, from the Greek financial meltdown to the implosion in Cosatu.
According to Dlamini, the imperialists were at work in countries such as Greece, which has been burdened with “rescue policies which were aimed at defending the interests of financial capital by protecting bondholders and other lenders, [and] promoting the interests of industrial capital”.
They are also active in the Arab world where, in the post-uprising era, conservative parties and organisations have been on the ascendancy and have taken over some governments. This is proof, says Dlamini, that “popular struggles got hijacked by the imperialist forces”.
In Asia and Latin America, the imperialists employ “organised chaos and endless disruption”, and make it “impossible for the existing government to govern”.
In eastern Europe, the strategy is mainly aimed at marginalising Russia and implementing the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s strategy of “recolonising eastern Europe”.
No conspiracy theory is complete without media collusion, and the imperialists use “compliant media to spread their version of events”.
Having given a masterclass in the workings of global imperialism, Dlamini brought it back home and gave it domestic relevance.
“In the South African context,” he explained, “these manoeuvres manifest in the form of an offensive against the liberation movement, which comes from all sides, including from the institutions meant to protect democracy and to protect the gains of our democratic breakthrough.”
Central actors in this offensive were the judiciary and the Public Protector.
“We have seen how our hard-won advances secured since the democratic breakthrough continue to face threats from our own judiciary, which zigzags from making progressive rulings that assert the new democratic dispensation to making rulings that clearly protect apartheid privileges and, in many cases, constitute judicial overreach and undermine the doctrine of the separation of powers.”
He said the result of the judiciary’s overreach was to “undermine the majority and impose setbacks on development which favour the majority of South Africans”.
The Public Protector, he said, “had been positioned as a role player in a political scene that is being shaped against the liberation forces”.
“It is becoming difficult not to associate the conduct of the Public Protector with the campaign ... which is aimed at replacing the majority rule as part of the campaign to delegitimise the popular democratic government.”
He went on to link the “chaos developing in Parliament”, service-delivery protests and attacks on Cosatu in the media, and portray these as part of some big bad plot to “use the masses against their revolution”.
Now this is not the first time such loony talk has come from senior leadership in South Africa. It has become standard practice to analyse problems through conspiratorial eyes.
In general, conspiracy theories are great fun. Crazy types spend half their lives trying to find answers to the world’s problems by connecting unrelated dots. They make arguments about the causes of plagues, wars and economic crises by linking them to shadowy forces that seek to achieve world domination.
But we have to be able to distinguish between loonies and serious decision makers. When a key player like Dlamini begins to sound like he has been wandering the streets of Mamelodi procuring that inhalable stuff that has Rattex and Jik as ingredients, it is time to worry.
And when nobody in his leadership and general membership finds anything odd about the balderdash and poppycock, we should be even more concerned. For it means that in diagnosing our ills, our policy makers and decision makers will seek the help of diviners and palm readers instead of looking at issues scientifically. Consequently, the cures they have come up with will be as wacky as the diagnosis.
South Africa’s deepening political, economic and social crises need rational analysis, not crazy conspiracy theories. So, to Dlamini and Co: Leave the Mamelodi product to those who have no greater responsibilities. Leave the wacky theories to those with nothing better to do.