Mbeki was never a straw man

The use of false analo­gies un­der­mines the unity of demo­cratic forces, writes

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE -

THE DE­LIB­ER­ATE man­u­fac­ture of false analo­gies that take the form of the cre­ation of the “straw man fal­lacy” is an an­tithe­sis of the con­sol­i­da­tion of the demo­cratic prin­ci­ples that con­sti­tute the cor­ner­stone of our demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion.

The use of the straw man fal­lacy in po­lit­i­cal dis­course calls into ques­tion the ethics, moral­ity and the sin­cer­ity of those who en­gage in th­ese di­vi­sive tac­tics.

In his ad­dress to the cen­tral com­mit­tee of Cosatu, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the SACP, com­rade Blade Nz­i­mande, sought to draw analo­gies be­tween the ex­po­sure of shock­ing rev­e­la­tions and the mis­use of state re­sources for the ben­e­fit of cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als and the Gupta fam­ily on the one hand, and the Mbeki ad­min­is­tra­tion on the other hand.

Need­less to say, any at­tempt to draw an anal­ogy be­tween th­ese ex­posés and the Mbeki ad­min­is­tra­tion is mis­chievous and serves to un­der­mine and weaken the unity and co­he­sion of the demo­cratic forces.

In ref­er­ence to the Zuma pres­i­dency, com­rade Nz­i­mande as­serts that the Zuma ad­min­is­tra­tion has dis­played “am­bi­tions for an im­pe­rial pres­i­den­tial sys­tem”.

He pro­ceeds to draw a par­al­lel with the Mbeki ad­min­is­tra­tion, say­ing “this was one of the rea­sons why we said uMbeki aka­hambe (Mbeki must go) be­cause he wanted to cre­ate an im­pe­rial pres­i­dency”.

He con­tin­ued fur­ther to say that “zonke iz­into (all the things) which hap­pened dur­ing the time of Mbeki are hap­pen­ing again… we are back there… his­tory re­peats it­self ”.

Such blan­ket and un­sub­stan­ti­ated gen­er­al­i­sa­tions are amaz­ing and very strange com­ing from the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the SACP.

This is even more bizarre and in­ex­pli­ca­ble in the light of the state­ment of the SACP is­sued on June 4, 2017 un­der the head­ing “De­fend, Ad­vance, Deepen the Na­tional Demo­cratic Rev­o­lu­tion”.

The state­ment makes the ob­ser­va­tions that “the ANC is in deep cri­sis” with a lead­er­ship that is “paral­ysed by deep di­vi­sions”.

It goes fur­ther to ex­press alarm that the leaked emails and the whis­tle-blow­ers who have come for­ward to the South African Coun­cil of Church’s Un­bur­den­ing Panel is ev­i­dence of “the sheer scale of cor­po­rate cap­ture and par­a­sitic plun­der­ing of pub­lic re­sources by the Gupta net­work”.

What is of even more con­cern ac­cord­ing to the state­ment is “the cen­tral role of Pres­i­dent Zuma and his son Duduzane in this auc­tion­ing off of our na­tional sovereignty”.

The state­ment goes fur­ther to iden­tify “ac­cel­er­ated rent-seek­ing based on state cap­ture, the emer­gence of a par­al­lel shadow state, what some have de­scribed as a ‘silent coup’, and the grow­ing au­thori- tar­i­an­ism and in­cli­na­tions to pres­i­den­tial dik­tat, with nos­tal­gia for mil­i­tary-style, top-down com­mand and con­trol openly ex­pressed” as char­ac­ter­is­tic fea­tures of Zuma’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Even with­out get­ting into the de­tail of the Mbeki ad­min­is­tra­tion, there is ab­so­lutely noth­ing to sug­gest that there was any­thing even closely re­sem­bling what the SACP has iden­ti­fied in its own June 4 state­ment, which hap­pened dur­ing the Mbeki ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The rea­sons for Mbeki’s failed elec­tion bid at the 2007 ANC na­tional con­fer­ence and his “re­call” in 2008 had ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with the “pres­i­dent and his son auc­tion­ing off our na­tional sovereignty”.

As we cel­e­brate the cen­te­nary of the birth of Oliver Tambo, it is only fit­ting that we ob­serve the memory of this revered leader of the South African peo­ple by scrupu­lously ad­her­ing to the truth at all times.

Why is it nec­es­sary to keep drag­ging the name of the for­mer pres­i­dent into an arena of cor­rup­tion, glut­tony and greed that has ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with him?

The an­swer is to be found in the events of Polok­wane in 2007 and the sub­se­quent re­call of pres­i­dent Mbeki.

At the time, to pro­vide jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for Mbeki’s re­moval, a bi­nary nar­ra­tive was cre­ated. In this nar­ra­tive, Mbeki was de­monised and fab­ri­ca­tions were cre­ated in which he be­came the devil in­car­nate.

On the other hand, Zuma was por­trayed as a paragon of per­fect lead­er­ship and the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of all that Mbeki was not. Zuma was pa­raded as a down-to-earth peo­ple’s leader, where Mbeki was sup­posed to be aloof, distant and ar­ro­gant.

The ex­posés in the me­dia sug­gest that some­thing has gone hor­ri­bly wrong with this nar­ra­tive.

The state­ment of the SACP is it­self liv­ing tes­ti­mony that the ANC has been plunged into a “deep cri­sis” with a na­tional lead­er­ship that is “paral­ysed by deep di­vi­sions”.

There is no deny­ing that this has hap­pened un­der Zuma’s watch.

Those who pro­pelled Zuma to power and painted an an­gelic pic­ture of him are on the horns of a dilemma. How could they be so wrong about the mes­siah who was sup­posed to de­liver them from the clutches of a pres­i­dent who had “im­pe­rial” presi- den­tial am­bi­tions?

Now that Zuma is ex­hibit­ing ten­den­cies of “au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism and in­cli­na­tions to pres­i­den­tial dik­tat”, as the SACP says, it is easy to re­sus­ci­tate and re­vive a tired and worn nar­ra­tive sug­gest­ing that Zuma is no dif­fer­ent from his pre­de­ces­sor.

The res­ur­rec­tion of the Mbeki straw man fal­lacy serves only to di­vert at­ten­tion from the real is­sues and the moral de­cay that is so per­va­sive in the or­gan­i­sa­tion and has be­come the sub­ject of me­dia re­ports.

The only log­i­cal rea­son for drag­ging Mbeki’s name into this false nar­ra­tive is both avoid­ance and jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. It is about time that those who pro­pelled Zuma to power take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the cri­sis of lead­er­ship, the de­cay of the moral fi­bre of the ANC, and above all the be­trayal of the val­ues and prin­ci­ples of this glo­ri­ous move­ment.

It is only by tak­ing full re­spon­si­bil­ity and not by ob­fus­ca­tion that they can re­deem them­selves in the eyes of the peo­ple of South Africa. Thami Nten­teni is the head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Thabo Mbeki Foun­da­tion. He writes in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity.

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