ANC’s bruised apples and those rotten to the core
When former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s story erupted, several pundits I deeply admire, and from whom I have learnt much, said things against which I protest from the bottom of my soul.
The Nene revelations show how naive some people are, they said; the story of the ANC is not good versus bad; the organisation is corrupt, finish and klaar.
This analysis isn’t right — and it is dangerous because it does the work of those who intend to do SA grave harm.
The analysis starts off badly because its intended opponent does not exist. Who in their right mind ever thought that the good people were all on one side, and the bad all on the other?
Never mind Deputy President David Mabuza. From the beginning, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to be ANC president was backed by Eastern Cape politicians notorious for their corruption and by senior figures in the Gauteng ANC with dirty hands.
Anyone who thought that Ramaphosa’s camp was all good must have had a blindfold wrapped around their face and leaden plugs in their ears.
That, however, hardly means that’ everybodyone s office to enrich is equally a relative corrupt. Being tempted to use is destructive and unacceptable.
When Jacob Zuma was president we were faced with something of an entirely different nature. He led a secret, organised, highly sophisticated campaign to permanently disable the public institutions that make the country work.
It was not so much an attack on the bean counters as a project to smash the very machinery that counts beans. He wanted to preside over a country that would lack the equipment to keep basic accounts. He wanted to destroy modes of governing that have taken generations to build.
That is light years from what Nene may or may not have contemplated doing — light years at the very least.
“Corruption” is such a dangerous word, for it includes in its ambit entirely different things.
To say that the ANC is corrupt, finish and klaar, is to mistake chalk for cheese.
What is at stake here is so much more than academic. Zuma and his bedfellows want all corruption to look the same. Everyone is a thief, they will have us believe, and so one lot of thieves is the same as the next.
If we got rich through the Guptas, they say, Ramaphosa got rich through the Oppenheimers. And so what if the Guptas tried to steal the Treasury? It is from Sanlam and Rembrandt they tried to steal it, not the SA people.
As with all lies, this one has a sprinkling of truth. One would have to be naive in the extreme to believe that old, powerful corporations do not exert more influence over public policy than they should.
They, however, did not try to destroy the infrastructure that makes governance possible — and nor did Nene. The difference is so massive it is frightening that one has even to point it out.
SA is nearly a quarter of a century into the democratic era. Many of us hoped an opposition would have emerged by now capable of winning an election and taking power. Alas, it has not happened. And so, as always, the country’s fate will be shaped more than anything else by what happens in the ANC.
It is thus as important as ever to get the governing party on the right track. To say that everyone in the party is the same is not just to misread what is going on. It is to sing to the tune of the most destructive political force of the democratic era.