Opinionista Lebo Keswa 2 September 2014

Not in our name: A letter to Thami Ka Plaatjie

Thami Ka Plaatjie wrote an open letter to the Public Protector, and its contents were so offensive that it moved this writer – who had sworn off open letters forever – to write back.

Robert Sobukwe must be turning in his grave, following your sycophantic article in the Sunday Independent of 31 August, where you insulted one of the brightest minds and staunchest corruption busters this country has ever seen.

Coming at the end of women’s month, the article was pathetically chauvinistic and must be condemned on behalf of all ANC members whose research leader you are meant to be.

This abusive article – aimed at a woman leader – exposes that you are not even half the leader that Madonsela is, and your tirade against her work is shameful defence of the indefensible, in the face of a scandal that even the ANC seeks to find a solution to.

For the life of me, I cannot imagine what possessed you to so openly insult someone who has only done sterling work in the fight against the cancer of corruption that is drowning our movement. What makes me angry is that you have done this banal act in the name of those of us who support the ANC.

In the introduction of your patronising article, you state, “I have lauded your work to hold our nation to account…but my views have changed over Nkandla…” Yet without any twist of irony you later state with glee that those who praise Madonsela are so-called “liberals” and “killers like De Klerk”. It is clear that you do not think you were so liberal after all when you “lauded [her] work”. Because she now demands accountability on Nkandla, which is a proxy for criticism of Zuma, this changes your mind about her good work which you used to laud. This makes it ok for you to call her a spoilt brat and a child throwing her toys on the floor – because she dares takes on Zuma, she deserves your string of unadulterated insults?

Do you really need to go to this gutter of intellectualism to show that you have now turned over a new leaf as an ANC Apparatchik? Do you really have to stoop so low to sing for your supper? Can someone who advises a minister spew such bile against another institution of the state? Surely even if there are disagreements, as there should be in any democracy, the conduct of someone who assumedly speaks for the ruling party or its government has to have some modicum of dignity? This is worse than your erstwhile “one settler, one bullet” days of pseudo-activism. It is out of sync with the dignity that the ANC as a leader of society is expected to display in public discourse. Your letter is a shameful piece of work, Abuti Thami Ka Plaatjie. Please let it not be in my name.

I have always admired your work and your ability to stir up debate in public, but to use over ten superlatives that simply show your fake disgust at the protector – and this I choose to believe – is unlike you.

You can’t possibly claim not to understand what work she is doing for our society. What can possibly be wrong with activism against rampant corruption? Why is it something that you “invite us to pour scorn over”? How else are we supposed to raise consciousness about this cancer of corruption, if institutions of the Constitution – that are meant to champion such a war against corruption – are supposed to play dumb and not raise their voices when they smell its stench? You expect them to simply close their noses just because it is the president that is being questioned. Such head-in-the-sand politics must not be in my name.

The brouhaha about the leaked letter is a red herring – I believe that with the kind of public interest on the shameful Nkandla matter, there is every reason for such letters to be public in the first place. This will prevent people like you, Abuti Thami, seeking sensation in turning such letters into a cloak-and-dagger affair where they accuse the Protector of being oppositional. This is an old trick, by the way – anyone who dares speak the truth to power is labelled, whether it be COPE or now the EFF! Abuti Thami, your letter is a terrible shame, man. I read it twice and was disgusted ten times over. I did not even know where to begin. I had sworn never ever to write an open letter, but I just could not resist.

I am glad that the Public Protector did not dignify your brown-nose nonsense with a response. Your letter is designed to achieve the lowest form of self-aggrandisement. I am sure you were expecting an excited call from the Deputy Secretary General, who this week has taken it upon herself to label Madonsela a populist. A lot of right-minded South Africans have found your letter terribly foul, however. I have no time to rehearse all the gratuitous insults save for a few points that cannot go unchallenged:

1] The Public Proctor Must learn to wait
Now you wait a minute. Do you really believe that this office was created to wait around for politicians who do not have any sense of shame or urgency? Do you really believe that the Public Protector should resign her duty to follow the president to Parliament after releasing her report as early as March? Do you really believe that the Public Protector should not ask the question just because the same question has been asked by the opposition? Ponder on these questions, and other than the lapping up of patronage I am not sure what on earth can make you ignore this glaring logic. The fact is that the PP is not beholden to politicians and quite frankly, my brother, she should not give a damn about the snail’s pace at which politicians move when more looting of the public purse could be going on.

2] The Mandate of the Protector
A little bit of reading will reveal to you that cases of sensation such as Nkandla are only a fraction of what the PP deals with daily. She is out there intervening every day for ordinary people. You obviously find this fact an inconvenience. It is better for you to give the impression that every case she is busy with is for the express written purpose of embarrassing the president. These total lies about such an important office are a shameful display of the worst kind of hypocrisy.

The Protector is not established to deal with private sector corruption – as a head of research this should have occurred to you naturally.

3] Impugning those that praise the protector

Apparently the work of the Protector that you have previously lauded is doing the bidding for the opposition. This is a flawed and lazy argument indeed, assuming that everything that the opposition does must be dismissed with contempt. The reality is that the stench of corruption is becoming too much even for people who are true members of the ANC, and not Johnny-came-lately types like you who need to be on the extreme of praise-singing in order to be noticed. All I am asking for is a little bit of analysis, instead of defaulting to the lowest form of selling of your soul, please.

4] Stooping to the lowest form of insult

You say of the Protector: “Your actions bespeak a troubled mind and a restless soul seeking redemption from itself…You are becoming a danger to you[rself] and your office… You maybe of the view that you are the best thing that ever happened to South Africa after Nelson Mandela.” These gratuitous insults reflect less on the Protector and more on you, Abuti Thami – are you that desperate to receive recognition from the ANC that you think nothing of denigrating someone of the stature of Advocate Madonsela?

Shame on you to do this in the name of those of us who support the ANC – and on the last day of Women’s Month, nogal.

Shame on you to use your platform granted by the ANC to stoop so low and expose your political chauvinism.

Shame on you to bring the movement into such utter disrepute.

Shame on you for spitting on the graves of even your own political ancestors.

Shame on you to associate the ANC with such unbridled buffoonery.

Please don’t do this again in our name, Abuti Thami Ka Plaatjie. Just DON’T! DM


While we have your attention...

An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money - though not nearly as much as its absence.

Every article, every day, is our contribution to Defending Truth in South Africa. If you would like to join us on this mission, you could do much worse than support Daily Maverick's quest by becoming a Maverick Insider.

Click here to become a Maverick Insider and get a closer look at the Truth.

Days of Zondo

Ajay Gupta tackles Jonas testimony from his Dubai safe haven

By Jessica Bezuidenhout

Towns near Fukushima are now being plagued by hordes of rampaging radioactive wild boars. Where are Asterix and Obelix when you need them?