First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
We have seen it many times in democratic South Africa: the ANC as a party and its leaders individually using the victim card as a “look away from our own failings and illegality” tactic to obfuscate their own misdeeds.
What follows is just a snippet of a list of many of the ruling party’s political and business leading lights – there’s simply not enough space or time for a complete catalogue.
In his own words, Ace Magashule is the very embodiment of the ANC. Never corrupt, never incompetent, he is the greatest fighter for black people’s liberation and emancipation, and that’s why everyone else hates him, enough to want him locked away for many years, as far as possible from the levers of SA power.
Jacob Zuma brought new-level victimhood to the game. It served him perfectly when he was fired by Thabo Mbeki and began his two-year victorious comeback. Even while president, he never forgot his victim shtick and continued to claim persecution, vaguely threatening to spill the beans in retaliation.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane… Where does one even start with her? The woman who singlehandedly ruined the reputation of an entire Chapter 9 institution. As the legal counteroffensive against her obviously politically inspired moves gathered steam, she turned to social media to present a woman persecuted for her beliefs and rectitude. She presented herself as a 21st-century Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, under attack by white racists and their ANC-based lackeys. It was, of course, an outrageous lie, but hey.
Matshela Koko, one-time Eskom CEO, the one of “prepayment to the Guptas so they can buy Optimum Mine” fame, tells anyone ready to listen that it is all Pravin Gordhan’s fault that Eskom has descended into dysfunction and indebtedness. (Gordhan became public enterprises minister in February 2018, long after Eskom turned into a systemic threat to South Africa’s future.) Way to go, man!
Lucky Montana, one-time CEO of now-ruined Prasa: same argument, except it was Prasa’s then-chair Popo Molefe’s fault.
Iqbal Survé writes often, and I will group his thoughts here: Everyone is against him, woe is him. His success-filled life has pushed the entire media and every other racist to persecute him – because he is, you know, a many times awarded business genius, was Mandela’s doctor and helped Bill Gates and Bill Clinton establish their global initiatives; he also enjoys moments of quiet contemplation with the Obamas, providing he has a break in his schedule; reinventing the media is a time-consuming effort, even for someone of his intelligence and acumen. He even received an award that is equal to the Nobel Prize – and that’s why everyone is jealous of him, including the Public Investment Corporation, which lent him billions and has no hope of getting that money back.
Karl Niehaus says everyone hates him for … ah what the hell, can’t really rummage through that steaming heap of rubbish right now, just type his name in Google and you’ll find out. Ugh.
Brian Molefe, Tom Moyane, the Guptas. There are so many more. Each are their own champions of their own victimhood games. While they’ve learned to play this single card well, they also play it predictably – there’s always this shadowy force that is directing moves against me/us. And because they themselves are so crucially important, and brilliant too, these avatars of evil want them in jail/powerless. They are the true victims here, they keep saying.
The obvious problem with all of it, obviously, is that somewhere out there must be a massive, invisible and fanatically dedicated army of rich racist haters who orchestrate moves against ALL of these characters at the same time, and yet keep it under wraps at all times. On the balance of probabilities, how likely is that?
But even if you are feeling sick after going through this woefully incomplete list, there is still a special space for the current champion, the ANC’s Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte.
Caught on tape while being part of a Top Six meeting with Zuma, Duarte expressed wonderment at how unfairly the Zondo Commission targeted their party, “turning itself into prosecution”. She said she believed Zuma should not go to Zondo, because of the judge’s bad handling of the former president’s issues. (She has also complained on other occasions that the judges never rule in favour of the ruling party.)
This was not a statement intended for public use, though Duarte did express lighter versions of the same sentiment before. This was not a cynical note put together by a bunch of Bell Pottinger’s verbal mercenaries to further confuse the already messed-up media space. Nope, this was probably as close to her true feelings as possible. I can understand the party’s habitual circling of the wagons can induce myopia, but this… this borders on delusion.
(It is important to note here that the ANC and SA government are often interchangeable in their own eyes.)
Which part of “The ANC is a ruling party for 27 years and under its control State Capture happened” does Duarte not understand? The commission is set up to investigate State Capture. In what universe can a bunch of political parties that have zero influence on a country’s policy, executive or judiciary be even compared with a party that has the real decision-making power on all of the above? And why blame judges for ruling against the SA government when it often presents hopeless arguments. It is difficult to defend the indefensible, after all.
It was on ANC’s watch that countless billions were stolen, and countless millions could get no jobs, nor future. It was while they were playing deployment games that the country’s economy has become desperately ill. Millions of people suffered from Covid-19 and other avoidable diseases and deaths while many of the ANC’s cadres cared about PPE tenders. It was the ANC itself that was home to players who caused hundreds of serious scandals, each of which would have ended careers and political parties’ legacies in ‘normal’ democracies. It was the ten disastrous years under Zuma’s version of the ANC that set South Africa on this path to self-destruction.
Who ruined the SOEs? Who mismanaged SA’s water systems so badly that Gqeberha now has only a few weeks of water left? Under whose leadership did Eskom take on astronomical debt of some $30-billion, with not much to show for it?
Who ruined SA’s infrastructure, killed people’s hopes and dreams, and covered up routinely for international criminals? Who controlled the Public Order Police who shot 112 Marikana miners, 34 of them dead, in plain sight of the global audience?
Whose friends and family became indecently wealthy through tenders and the lack of government’s spending control? While millions of poor South Africans live on the edge of hunger and homelessness?
Under whose leadership did we become a near-failed state?
Who did all of that, Jessie Duarte? Are you sure it is the ANC who’s victim here? Really? DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.