Opinionista Onkgopotse JJ Tabane 11 November 2013

Dear Mmusi Maimane, let’s talk frankly about what we really must believe

Mmusi Maimane is a good man, and a solid political candidate. But how far he will go in Gauteng politics – well, that’s a matter of belief.

Congratulations on your appointment as the Gauteng Premier Candidate for the Democratic Alliance. I am glad that you beat Jack Bloom to it on competence alone. Your party could do with a new voice, new perspectives. It’s interesting that your own internal processes have ended up with the conclusion that Gauteng’s citizens can do without Bloom’s constant nag and broken-glass politics. Since you were not appointed for merely being black I have to go with the logic that you beat Bloom on ability – he is not as competent as you are as a potential premier of the province. Your party is brave, of course, for believing that after failing to be a mayor of the biggest Metro of the country you could then rise to become premier of the entire province. But as your slogan goes – we’ve gotta believe.

I am somewhat proud of your achievements, though. You and Lindi Mazibuko have shown some mettle in navigating the Machiavellian party of our day. You guys are brave. The reality is that the DA is not a progressive party by any stretch of the imagination, and yet you make it almost believable that you…well..believe that it is as progressive as they come. How do you manage to internalise a party ethos that really just defends what is left of white privilege? How do you wake up after your own chairman simply let this reality slip when talking about BEE recently? I must say that to in fact stand up and contradict him was brave of you – it made me proud somewhat, thought I was not sure when you were going to be made to swallow your own words in that regard. Essentially your chairman, in his own wisdom, allowed us into the real thinking of the DA on BEE, and left the spin to you. And as if that were not enough, your leader contradicted your entire caucus on their voting to support the Employment Equity Act in Parliament. So what, really, should South Africans believe? And given your recent PR gimmicks on the e-tolls billboards, we have every right to believe that the apparent contradictions on a matter as crucial for our country’s economic development was not a mere slip of the tongue by your chairman. Yes ? No? So he gets to comfort white fears on BEE and you get to speak to black hope at the same time. It seems to me, quite frankly, that your party is scrambling for some kind of New South African identity, while also having nostalgia for being a mate of the Nationalist Party.

As you know, PR is a temporary reprieve from reality. So your denial that the infamous billboards on e-tolls were not of your making lasted a day or two, with you emphatically denying your responsibility for them. And people must, next time, believe you… We have to believe you that this time you are telling the truth. I must say that the whole e-tolls thing seems to be your only sexy election issue in Gauteng. You have taken it in your stride to perfect the opportunism that is to be expected of any shrewd politician. The funding of the OUTA to a tune of a million was a PR master stroke, but as they say, money does not buy happiness – the court has still thrown out what is essentially a request for institutional chaos – telling government to see how to finish commitments made on behalf of citizens to improve our road infrastructure. Please don’t get me wrong; I have not purchased my e-tag yet – you know that last-minute South African habit – I will probably join the scramble on the eve of the inevitable when civil disobedience won’t be an option, and with your constant refrain about respecting the law and the Constitution I have a feeling I will see you at that queue. None of us want to pay for anything, really – the difference is that you at least dream of being Premier. If – touch wood – that dream comes true, you will probably not believe in not paying for stuff, because you will be faced with a burden to govern and not be the shout-and-do-little Jack.

Most of us are not chuffed with the services we receive from municipalities – look at the short end of the stick that people in Gugulethu are receiving under Zille with no toilets and all – humiliating stuff. But should they refuse to pay rates and taxes because development has not fully bloomed in NY1? The Native Yards that are Cape Town townships have remained so, but you want us to believe that in Gauteng, should the citizenry here unmathematically decide to give you the reins as Premier, this will change for the people of Soshanguve? Come now, let’s talk frankly….

The reality is that you are going to remain in opposition for a long time to come. You are sadly no match for David Makhura, who I am told is touted for Premier of Gauteng. Maybe you would have stood a chance with the Dirty Vote Mama Action, but that is not the future, that is the past. There’s going to be a dog fight for you to go past that post with David leading the charge.

Look, you are a good guy, but I truly hope no one has honestly made you believe that you could actually become Premier. I think you will make a good opposition leader across from David Makhura as Premier. Frankly, a shadow premier is all you can hope to… believe.

Politics requires a kind of consistency not in its definition. Take the Midvall demarcation debacle, for example. Whereas you would have consistently praised the demarcation board for its seeming impartiality in all other decisions of redrawing municipal boundaries across the country, you disagree with it in its sensible decision to integrate Midvall into Sedibeng, because you want an Apartheid enclave to remain untouched because you are in charge there. Where is the consistency? Sadly, you are left with these kind of inconsistencies to explain. Your leader Zille is ungovernable and has embarrassed your fellow black DA leader in Parliament – essentially casting aspersions on her leadership abilities to keep the eye on the DA ball when it comes to matters of redress. One hopes the same fate does not await you as you do the ‘believe’ thing in GP.

But you remain, in my eyes, a good guy. Your kind of bravery is in the league of Dali Mpofu’s EFFing off to the EFF in the face of ANC admonition. No sooner had he joined the EFF, no sooner was he reminded that he joined the ANC after it was unbanned. Soon we will be reminded that he was very good friends with the mother of our nation. You know how dirty people can be.

You are a good man, Maimane. You are the kind of fellow who could not be bothered with all the baggage of a white party that was part of Apartheid, and try to do the best you can within it. In a twisted way, you have tested how much we can tolerate people who break the racial ranks even after experiencing Apartheid in our townships, warts and all. You probably would crack only a branch chairmanship if you ever joined the ANC, but where you are, you have taken over an essentially white party and you stand a change of leading it way better than the current whities in its ranks… this is the stuff believing can do. You have followed a different route to the same trough of political greed, because believe me, once you become Premier, we will hear of your security wall going up… but then, I believe.

Wishing you well in your campaign to unseat Mokonyane, no matter the mathematical odds. Keep believing.

Yours frankly,

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane DM


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