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AFTER THE BELL

What do Fikile Mbalula and US far-right ‘journalist’ Tucker Carlson have in common?

What do Fikile Mbalula and US far-right ‘journalist’ Tucker Carlson have in common?
Illustrative image | Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: EPA-EFE / Alexander Zemlianichenko) / Pool) | American conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Cristobal Herrera Ulashkevich) | Fikile Mbalula. (Photo: Gallo Images / Misha Jordaan)

Well, it seems that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the United Russia party which backs him believe that both men are thicker than the Witwatersrand gold reef.

A lot of other people happen to share that opinion. But Vladimir Putin is currently putting on a masterclass in playing the politically gullible that is simply breathtaking to behold.

He has successfully courted white nationalists who long for the days of segregation in the US and apartheid in South Africa, while simultaneously reeling in a black liberation movement that made its name fighting racial oppression. 

And both sides seem blithely unaware this is happening, though neither Putin nor United Russia are concealing their budding bromances. It’s almost as if Putin has cast a spell on them.

This clown show would be comical – Mbalula and Carlson are both hilarious in unflattering ways – were it not for the geopolitical stakes involved, including the future of both the US and South Africa as functioning democracies. 

To wit, Carlson, a former Fox News host, famously had an infamous interview with Putin last week in which the Russian autocrat launched a rambling historical monologue justifying his invasion of Ukraine.

Carlson, of course, is a key player in the US far right and the Maga movement that has transformed the Republican Party – the party of the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln – into a racist and misogynistic cult beholden to Donald Trump.

Yaroslav the Wise, the 11th-century Grand Prince of Kyiv, featured in Putin’s monologue. I am not making this up. One can’t imagine the Maga crowds chanting “Yaroslav the Wise!” between chants of “Hang Mike Pence” and “Lock Her Up”, but stranger things have happened. 

The wider point here is that Carlson is a love-struck Putin fan-boy and at the same time a relentless scaremonger about the plight of whites in post-apartheid South Africa and the plight of white Americans in the post-Civil War and civil rights eras.  

A rant by Carlson in 2018 on Fox News about the dire straits of white South African farmers prompted then president Trump to tweet that he had directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures,” as well as the “killing of farmers.”

Carlson is also a frequent booster of the white supremacist “Great Replacement Theory”, which holds that shadowy (read liberal, Jewish, woke) elites are encouraging immigration from developing  (read non-white regions) into white regions (read America/Europe) to “replace them” with obedient voters to live off the dwindling taxes of hard-working (read white) workers.

David Duke, a long-time leader of the Ku Klux Klan, once said that Russia under Putin was “key to white survival”.

The United Russia party itself has forged links with far-right (read white) parties and political leaders outside of Russia, such as Hungary’s Victor Orbán and his Fidesz Party. Oh, and Carlson is also a fanboy of Orbán. Just saying. 

Against this seething backdrop of white resentment and nationalism, one would assume that an African liberation/nationalist movement like, say, the ANC or its splinter the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), would not be drawn like moths to the same flame of hate as white nationalists such as Carlson and his ilk.

I mean, this would surely be a far-fetched plot line for a novel or a movie. 

Parallel universe

How can you claim to champion African liberation and oppose “neocolonialism” while playing footsie with white supremacists who regard parties like the ANC with contempt for racist reasons, while launching an imperialist invasion yourself? It all gives new meaning to the term parallel universe.

Well, Putin and his party are doing just that.

Lo and behold, a week after Carlson journeyed to Moscow to learn about Yaroslav the Wise, Mbalula will this week lead an ANC delegation to Moscow where several political parties from the Global South will work out a blueprint for a new entity whose raison d’etre will be to confront “neocolonialism”.

This is an initiative of the United Russia party or Putin’s party. Is Mbalula unaware of the fawning praise that has been showered on Putin by the likes of Carlson, and, for that matter, Donald Trump?

Does he not realise he is climbing into bed for a political ménage à trois requiring contortions that would put a Cirque du Soleil performer to shame?

The ANC’s mantra when it comes to Putin’s Russia as some icon of anti-colonialism is that Moscow supported the ANC back in the day. That was during the Cold War, and such a narrative dispatches down the memory hole the backing that the ANC and the wider anti-apartheid movement had from Western governments such as Canada and Sweden, as well as that offered by many Americans and Brits even when the administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were hostile to the cause.

It also conveniently forgets that it was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union – you know, the party of a guy called Stalin – that provided the ANC with support. 

United Russia by contrast is right-wing and nationalist, and its de facto leader, Putin, is idolised by white supremacists. You know, the same kind of people who supported apartheid.

And they now have the leader of Reagan’s Republican Party – who recently encouraged Russia to attack Nato allies for allegedly not paying their dues – eating out of their hand.

This all matters because regardless of the skin colour of nationalism, it all points to an unsettling rise of authoritarian populism globally that will have chilling political, social and economic consequences.  

Jon Stewart, who has returned to host the US satirical current affairs programme, The Daily Show, said this week in a conversation with Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor of The Economist, that the Cold War between capitalism and communism seems to have been replaced by a global confrontation between “the woke” and “the unwoke”. 

But the ANC in this regard seems to be a square peg being rammed into a round hole lubricated by Stolichnaya vodka. I mean, for all its glaring governance faults, I suppose it likes to put on woke pretences. It raises the suspicion that it’s all about money – you know, the stuff generated by the exploitation of the masses – and that Russia is funding the ANC.

I’m not saying that is the case… merely connecting some dots.

There is also the GazpromBank deal to reboot the Mossel Bay oil refinery – awarded in a suspicious manner – and the push for 2,500MW of nuclear energy, which South Africa can hardly afford.

Surely the ANC delegation going to this anti-neocolonialism shindig in Moscow cannot possibly be that thick. It certainly seems to think South Africans are. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Unfortunately, sociopaths get to go about their evil business unmolested while the world bickers futilely over distractions sown via their misinformation.

  • W De Soto says:

    It’s disappointing that Carlson is so gullible.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Methinks the dots are connected right

  • Max Mosselson Mosselson says:

    Carlson also went on about how nice and clean Moscow was. Unlike filthy, decaying cities in the US, he said. Maybe Fiklie is going to get some tips on how to clean up our cities like downtown Johannesburg and eThekwini?

  • Rae Earl says:

    The SA delegation can be that thick Ed. How the hell can any delegation be headed by someone like Fikile Mbalula the country’s court jester. His status of Secretary General of the ANC says it all. This was the ultimate exercise in hopeless appointments and admirably exhibits the concept of forcing a square peg into a round hole by the ANC NEC. Putin will play this delegation like a country fiddler and have them dancing to his tune like brainless dervishes.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    The ‘far right’ label in the headline is a lazy dog whistle.

  • Karl Eschberger says:

    Carlson at least got to interview Putin. Who else could do that? With 200 million + views nogal.
    Ed is obviously biased against Carlson. Does he support ‘Critical race theory?’ – which Carlson also does not like.
    Listening to and trying to understand views contrary to one’s own is valuable. clash

    • David Baker says:

      Lots of media outlets asked to interview Putin.
      He chose Carlson
      Ask yourself why?
      Would he get an easier ride?
      Would Carlson stay away from certain subjects and avoid certain questions?
      Would he correct Putin ?
      Would he give Putin a long monologue?

      Agreeing with someone has nothing to do with whether it is good journalism or not

  • Jo Van says:

    Carlson has been riding a wave of growing popularity on social media and he has been making an impression of being a responsible and professional journalist who is uncovering unpopular truths in a very credible way. I see the author of this article has gone to some lengths to attack this impression and to influence readers to look at Carlson as being an extreme right-wing nutcase who should not be trusted.
    He is on the up and up and he has not recently put a foot wrong to suggest that he has such extreme underlying views. We’ll see how he goes. So far I find his approach refreshing and he is likeable as a person. Disciplined and precise in his thinking and reporting. He opens up very interesting questions. One is: how would it be if Russia and the USA make friends and Russia becomes part of NATO? “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.

    • Hilary Morris says:

      Carlson actually IS an extreme right-wing nut case, and one has only to look at his support of Trump and his MAGA morons to see that. He is a lying, manipulative, right wing idiot, firmly supporting the most gullible and ignorant sector of the American population. The kind of people who are several sandwiches short of any picnic. We can only hope that Trump is fully gaga, rather than maga before Nov. The chances are pretty good.
      Great article.

    • Agf Agf says:

      I agree. Once again I ask the question, why is he being called “far right”? What does this epiphet even mean? He is not a neo nazi. He is not a member of the klu klux Klan. He is a conservative commentator. Come on people, don’t be silly.

  • Agf Agf says:

    How do you arrive at the conclusion that Tucker is “far right”?He might be a conservative but it’s a bit much to label him “far right”. Who do you consider to be “far left”?

  • Rob vZ says:

    I’m sure the conference buffet will be delicious.
    And don’t forget to pack your clown costume, Fikile.
    It is official dress code for useful idiots.

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