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23 March 2018 05:13 (South Africa)
Opinionista Lebo Keswa

Speaking in tongues: Mixed messages on the Public Protector hurt the movement

  • Lebo Keswa
    Lebo Keswa

    Lebo Keswa is a Business Woman and Marketing Executive.

This week saw yet another storm involving the Public Protector, and frankly, the subject matter is now becoming exhausting. What is even more disturbing, though, is the inability or unwillingness of the tripartite alliance and leagues to communicate one unified message about the importance and sacrosanct nature of Chapter 9 institutions.

There are, worryingly, some within the movement that have taken the view that our Chapter 9 institutions are no good and that they must be beholden to the ruling party. This is glaringly obvious from the attacks on the Public Protector from various facets of the tripartite alliance.

This week it was the turn of the young communist league, as well as the MKMVA. Such attacks follow on the back of the letter of Thami Ka Plaatjie, the head of ANC research, whose horribly low attack on the Public Protector the ANC is yet to denounce.

The MKMVA attack on Madonsela has particular significance, as it signals yet another dangerous trend of dragging security agencies into politics. It is curious that it comes after the release of the so-called spy tapes, which underline the misuse of state apparatus to advance factional interests within the ANC.

The claim that Madonsela was a spy for the CIA was clearly a fluke, but the fact that a deputy minister of state could risk diplomatic relations with a super power – and one with whom South Africa enjoys good bilateral relations, to boot – just to besmirch the name of a Chapter 9 institution, is telling. One does not need to have any respect for the person of Kebby Maphatsoe, whose shenanigans even within the MKMVA are well documented, but surely one could expect a little dignity at the very least.

Maphatsoe is known for threatening the Western Cape government with ungovernability not so long ago, and has gone on record shamelessly to insult Kadar Asmal, who dared denounce such idiocy. An association with fiddling with state agencies and running something that approximates a paramilitary operation is not something far-fetched at all where Mphatsoe is concerned. His conduct this week was, however, a shame. Whoever advises him needs to go back to the drawing board to learn how to prevaricate with the tiniest mould of dignity. I do hope the Public Protector sues him, as an example of how reckless politicians can be dealt with when they disregard the Constitution. A caller to a radio station, namely one Themba from Alexandra, contended this week that he doubted people like Maphatsoe had even read the Constitution at all.

The MKMVA has once again demonstrated its irrelevance in the South African political discourse, and it is truly bold that the ANC this week distanced itself from its appalling conduct. If it were taken seriously within the ANC, a meeting of clarification would have been held to seek to understand what on earth the MKMVA was taking about. No such clarification meeting took place, and the ANC wanted to make sure the public did not associate it with such utter recklessness. A radio journalist asked a pertinent question: whether, as with Malema’s utterances against Botswana, we were likely to see Maphatsoe being hauled before a disciplinary committee. With this political gimmick, Maphatsoe has certainly singlehandedly destroyed whatever credibility was left in this sham of a structure. I am not holding my breath, however, because for some reason the whole idea of the MK is still so revered in the ANC. Still, many are now beginning to laugh it off as an organisation of phantom heroism, especially if its best spokespersons are people like Maphatose - whose military record is very suspect.

As if this horror were not enough, the YCL launched a scathing attack on Zwelinzima Vavi and Irvin Jim for protecting the Public Protector. Apparently it’s a sin now to speak in support of a Chapter 9 institution. They earned themselves the scathing title “queens of justice” in what was probably the ugliest attack on their integrity to be received from the highest office in the land. Buti Manamela, an old defender of the president, is clamouring to protect his boss at all costs. But let's just remember that with a new president in the Union Buildings, Manamela is likely to return to the backbench in Parliament, where he can continue to make futile noise.

This is an utter shame. The few remaining voices of reason that speak out against corruption are now being harassed into silence by powerful figures. Just recently, the ANCYL insulted the Protector about the shape of her nose, as one of the lowest blows you can imagine in political discourse. This assumes that a Masina is as handsome as the ANC can dish. This is most chauvinistic – so much so that even the usually moribund ANCWL had a word or two against it.

It all comes down to this: a cacophony of disparate voices emerging out of the ANC on the same matter have spoken in twisted and ill-formed tongues. It is incontrovertible truth that the Nkandla matter has divided the ANC down the middle. There are some who believe that a strategy to make the Protector look bad has to be pushed so that she stands on a back foot when she makes her recommendations. This group has miscalculated badly, because the public perception is that she is now being victimized for speaking the truth to power.

So bad is this miscalculation that it threatened to turn Madonsela into a national hero. Just last week the Gupta-owned ANN7 had her voted the best South African of all time by the public. The noses of those whose strategy was to start soiling her character are seriously out of joint. A few months ago, she was also honoured by one of the most influential publications in the world: TIME Magazine. Now, is the public gonna believe Buti Manamela? Is it gonna believe the person author Chris Vick last week labelled a one-armed bandit, Maphatsoe? Think again.

The second group in the ANC are those such as the disgraced Pallo Jordan, who continue to call for accountability. The YCL's attempt at speaking with a forked tongue is nothing short of embarrassing. The implementation of recommendations of the Public Protector’s report will see President Zuma paying back the money as demanded by the Protector. The lobby within the ANC for seeing Nkandla as a liability is weak, and is being drowned out by those that can't stand the Public Protector.

But as the saying goes, good will eventually always triumph over evil. The MKMVA made evil rear its head, but hopefully good people will stand up against the madness.

What is left to say, then? Ooh, bathong, abuti Kebby Maphatsoe, what is the latest? Apparently all of this hoo-ha is non-existent, and we, the listeners, are the idiots who misunderstood. I give up. I just really do give up. DM

  • Lebo Keswa
    Lebo Keswa

    Lebo Keswa is a Business Woman and Marketing Executive.

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