Opinionista Onkgopotse JJ Tabane 16 December 2015

Dear Comrade Zizi Goodenough Kodwa… Let’s Talk Frankly

I was totally flabbergasted by the media statement issued by the ANC’s NWC this week. I know that you are merely doing your work drafting statements of this nature, but I spared a thought for you having to once again defend the indefensible.

It was good to see you and your lovely wife at the funeral of our comrade in arms Andile Nkuhlu last week. Ironically the bizarre firing of the affable and competent Comrade Nene happened a day before his funeral added to our angst and frustration as we bid our comrade farewell. You can understand the frustration of the likes of Sakie Macozoma, who could not help but reflect on the state of our nation and ask the question: ‘why it is so easy to fire competent ministers and so hard to chuck out the dead wood in cabinet?’. I wonder what Andile would have had to say about the inexplicabilities that tend to colour our body politic.

I have watched your journey as the voice of our movement since you took over from comrade Jackson and must say you have accorded yourself well under the terrible circumstances of our leaders doing too many things that require fancy explanation footwork. I mean, how do you explain the illiterate insults of the ANCYL to the public protector this week? Where do you start explaining the banal utterances of the MKVA in recent times, often speaking through a running nose ; the cringeworthy and brown-nosing mutterings of the PPF coming to President Zuma’s blind defence or the disgraceful march of the ANCWL to the union buildings? How do you wake up and have to explain that ANC people in the Eastern Cape stole money meant for Nelson Mandela’s Funeral or daughters and sons of some of your NEC members are involved in a toilet tender scandal? Oh and then the gaffes of the year from the highest offices of the movement – declaring that the ANC comes first and the opposition parties are cockroaches! Its a tough job you have comrade. I can only wish you well – I know you are good enough for the task at hand no matter how tall the order.

But let’s talk frankly, dear spokesperson, about the recent curve ball thrown your way. I was totally flabbergasted by the media statement issued by the ANC’s NWC this week. I know that you are merely doing your work drafting statements of this nature but I spared a thought for you having to once again defend the indefensible – your daily bread… But we can only try to help as those that want to see the ANC succeed. Sadly unlike your name, this statement was not good enough…

If the NWC had an iota of moral backbone – something you sadly can’t do much about – its statement – and therefore its actions preceding such a statement – would have gone something like this:

Dear Fellow South Africans,

The ANC’S Extended NWC met and was disturbed by the events of the past few days in our country, precipitated by the firing of the Minister of Finance of the Republic by the President.

We recognize that the President erred in firing comrade Nene without consulting the alliance partners and the NEC. We do not accept the explanation related to deployment to the Brics banks as a justification for the ill-timed announcement in this regard. Government has in its employ an army of advisors at the beck and call of the President and no head of state should come across so ill advised.

While he has a prerogative to hire and fire ministers, there is a tradition of courtesy and consultation in the NEC, for which President Zuma has come to be known for.

The NEC further noted that such habit of consultation did not apply this time around, including with the appointment of minister Mosebenzi Zwane into the minerals portfolio, a decision that ignored a discussion of the deployment committee.

The ANC debated this matter thoroughly and agreed that the President erred and censured the President for his conduct.

We are pleased that after deliberation the President accepted the suggestion to reverse this harmful decision for the sake of the country. We also welcome the President’s admission of guilt in this regard, given the billions that have been wiped off our economy. We welcome the redeployment of comrades Nene, Gordan and Van Rooyen to their new responsibilities. We know that this is not ideal, but accept it as a solution we all stand by to salvage the otherwise catastrophic situation we find ourselves in.

Going forward the ANC has decided the following for immediate implementation: 

  1. To censure comrade Zuma in the strongest possible terms and put him on strict terms to avoid this kind of conduct for the remainder of his term of office.
  2. To instruct comrade Zuma to apologise to the nation in a televised address assuring the nation of our commitment to fiscal discipline as well as commit himself to put the country first.
  3. To confirm that the treasury will be given the necessary support to deal with the matters of SAA and Nuclear Procurement in a professional and prudent manner. This includes appointing a new board for SAA as a matter of urgency to stabilize the airline as well as stabilising the sickening situation at both PRASA and SABC, both of which are giving the movement a bad name.
  4. To refer the conduct of the President to the integrity commission, given it being at variance with the recent NGC decisions related to deployments of comrades. The commission can decide if there is a need for further censure against the President. This will send a stern message to all deployees that the commission will not hesitate to act against them.

    The ANC wishes to unreservedly apologize to the country for the economic calamity that happened under its watch and undertakes to take the necessary steps to avoid this happening again. We commit ourselves to be accountable to each other and to our citizens who have placed faith in the ANC as a leader of society.

    We call on all stakeholders to work closely with us to find lasting solutions to build social cohesion. We commit ourselves ahead of the January 8 celebrations to combat cronyism and corruption that is choking our movement and will focus on rebuilding the moral high ground that we are steadily losing as a political party.

    Issued by the ANC NEC on the 16 December 2015.

You see comrade Kodwa with a statement like that a few things would have been achieved.

The ANC NWC would be speaking honestly to the country about the fact that, like all of us, they were taken by surprise both by the firing of Nene and the hiring of comrade Des, they will be honest about the fact that, like all of us, they were angry about the act of blatant economic sabotage by the President. A statement like this would better reflect what actually took place behind the scenes rather that the terrible whitewash that seeks to pull wool over the public’s eye and lie to us with a straight face about things that even some of the NEC members have confirmed to their contacts. We both know that senior ministers inside the NEC expressed shock and disgust at the decision just a few hours after it was announced.

Politicians must learn that the people of South Africa are not fools and will not play fools anymore. An honest statement would have been good enough for me as a good start, but sadly, this is not a utopia. I know that you have a thankless task of a conveyor belt of political fiction sometimes and that you can’t tell the NEC what to decide. Still, I thought these tips may help you when next you are faced with a choice to spin or to … talk frankly. DM

Yours frankly,
Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

Tabane is author of the best selling book Let’s Talk Frankly: Letters to influential South Africans about the state of our nation.


Are You A South AfriCAN or a South AfriCAN'T?

Maverick Insider is more than a reader revenue scheme. While not quite a "state of mind", it is a mindset: it's about believing that independent journalism makes a genuine difference to our country and it's about having the will to support that endeavour.

From the #GuptaLeaks into State Capture to the Scorpio exposés into SARS, Daily Maverick investigations have made an enormous impact on South Africa and it's political landscape. As we enter an election year, our mission to Defend Truth has never been more important. A free press is one of the essential lines of defence against election fraud; without it, national polls can turn very nasty, very quickly as we have seen recently in the Congo.

If you would like a practical, tangible way to make a difference in South Africa consider signing up to become a Maverick Insider. You choose how much to contribute and how often (monthly or annually) and in exchange, you will receive a host of awesome benefits. The greatest benefit of all (besides inner peace)? Making a real difference to a country that needs your support.


SONA2019: Ramaphosa uses his reply to answer internal critics over Eskom restructuring

By Marianne Merten

"We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings." ~ Ursula Le Guin