Defend Truth


I will not stay silent any more


Dr Phillip Dexter is the Chief Operating Officer of NIH. He writes in his personal capacity.

I have been biting my tongue ever since I resigned my ANC membership forms in 2012. But I have had enough now. I won’t accept the lying and the conniving, the spinning and the bullshit any more.

The statements recently from senior ANC leaders that we can’t recall President Jacob Zuma because this will divide the ANC even further are true. However, that’s not where it starts and ends. Those making these statements now are the very same people that recalled President Thabo Mbeki. They expelled Julius Malema. They purged Willie Madisha as the then President of Cosatu. Now the remnants of this gang stands here telling us that if President Jacob Zuma is recalled, the ANC will be divided even further.

Should have thought about that then, but I guess the call of office was too strong.

The issue is not about recalling Jacob Zuma. It’s about uniting the ANC. In this respect there is nothing, no leadership, no vision, no imagination, from these “leaders”.

I have no issue with the statement that a recall of President Jacob Zuma will divide the ANC. It’s obvious. But why did those who say this now not apply this logic when they recalled President Thabo Mbeki? I did not support President Thabo Mbeki on his stance on HIV and AIDS, or on GEAR. But I could never, in my wildest imagination, short of him committing treason, think of his recall as being a good thing. This along with the purging of the then President of Cosatu, Comrade Willie Madisha, over a credit card debt of R29,000 owed by an official to the federation, are the shameful facts about how a small group of factionalists almost destroyed the ANC and its allies. The SACP was not spared this treatment. In defence of the misuse of resources by an official, the party was prepared to throw itself behind an individual and tag along on his agenda at the the expense of its independence, its programme and its responsibility to the working class. The further purging of Julius Malema and his cohort of leaders in the ANCYL is the same. The actions of these “leaders”, who drove a bus through the ANC, SACP and Cosatu, wrecking these organisations, may still be our undoing.

Willie Madisha was the worker leader at the helm of Cosatu. Yet he was removed to protect a paid employee of the federation. So much for worker leadership. Even Julius Malema, as rude as he sometimes is, should never have been dealt with in the way he was. The leadership of the youth that rebuilt the ANC in the 1950s was not that different from Comrade Malema. Walter Sisulu put up with and developed an angry young Nelson Mandela to make him the leader he became. Sisulu worked with him, groomed him through love and patience. So did Ahmed Kathrada and others. Govan Mbeki, Harry Gwala, Andrew Mlangeni, Raymond Mhlaba, Wilton Mkwayi, Ruth First, Dora Taman, Ray Alexander, so many great, heroic leaders, put up with each other’s egos, pettiness, foibles, fahribbels, indiscretions and so much more. Such is the nature of revolutions and political movements.

If these great leaders, giants of the ANC, could do this, who are we, who are these people who lead us today who stand up on platforms and say, “you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t say this, you can’t say that’?

As the song by Die Antwoord goes, “who f*cking said so!”

I have been biting my tongue ever since I resigned my ANC membership forms in 2012. But I have had enough now. I will not stay silent any more. I won’t accept the lying and the conniving, the spinning and the b*llshit any more.

The problems we have in the ANC come a long way. The divisions in the SACP, Cosatu and the ANC are not new. But there is a convention of how to manage these. First, we cannot purge each other because we don’t agree. It took years of efforts by President Oliver Tambo and others to try to deal with the Gang of Eight and the Marxist Workers tendency before they were expelled. Never did the ANC expel or purge anybody lightly.

Yet, over a personal issue, we witnessed the removal of a president from office in government. The issue of whether President Jacob Zuma, the then Deputy President, did or did not receive bribes from somebody is not simply an ANC issue. It’s complex. Where does organisational responsibility begin and end? The same with personal responsibility. But it has nothing to do with the National Democratic Revolution. Whether he did or did not build Nkandla with state resources will not house people, create jobs, build the economy, so why do we have to spend so much time and money and energy on this issue? And the Guptas! They are not even South African. They don’t actually give monkeys about whether we build houses or not.

Yet all day long, it’s the Guptas.

Second, leadership must lead, not by telling us what we can’t do, but what we must do. What is the programme? It can’t be to defend Nkandla, to defend Oakbay. It has to be about growth, development, jobs, housing, and education. Frankly speaking, the President’s housing, the Guptas’ shares, and similar issues, are just not mine or any other citizens’ issue, unless they are using our money. If they are, they must pay it back. That’s easy to determine. Investigate. If it warrants is, prosecute. But it can’t be a conspiracy all the time! We can’t hear about the counter-revolution, who seem not to be interested in stopping socialism but are rather interested in stopping the president from having a fire-pool/swimming pool.

Personally, I think global capitalism has far bigger fish to fry.

Comrades, as a friend said the other day, in response to my tongue-in-check question about our nation, paraphrasing the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, who asked Comrade Ndlozi of the EFF, “are you not well?”, she said, “We are not well at all. We are unwell in our bones, our marrow, our identity. Our hearts have been broken by those we trusted.”

This is the truth. Our truth.

Comrades in the ANC NEC, the SACP CC, the Cosatu CEC. Our organisations are in tatters. Yet, you sit there telling us what we can’t do. We need you to tell us what to do.

Here is my small contribution:

  1. We need to start a process in the ANC and its allies, similar to the TRC. We need to allow all to speak and tell the truth about what has been done to these structures and the individuals in them and what they have done individually. None of us is blameless. I am willing to be first. We cannot go forward and heal this nation if we don’t heal ourselves as an organisation.
  2. We need to have an honest discussion about our policies and our programmes. Because while we have changed much for so many, we are not where we want to be as a country. Our policies are just not radical enough. The gap between rich and poor is getting wider. Public services are not what they should be. People are not safe. None of these is the ANC’s fault, but it’s our responsibility to fix it.
  3. Let us call activist forums, where we do not allow gatekeepers and those who pay for someone else’s membership to determine who is in the meeting. Let’s have real Imbizos, so that we can all speak and be heard.
  4. Then let us take the necessary corrective action to resolve these contradictions in our organisations and to start from the bottom up, to build branches that represent the people who belong to them, elect leaders who are for the people and not for their bank accounts, elect a national leadership who can project a vision that places us where we should be as a country — at the top and not the bottom.

If the ANC leadership does this, it can take us forward.

Our founding fathers gave us the ANC, the Freedom Charter and this Constitution. Let’s honour them by treating these with the respect they deserve.

You can purge me again for saying this. You can sideline me. You can do whatever you want. But I, like so may others, am Black, Green and Gold in my bones, in my marrow, in my blood and in every part of me.

You may change the ANC, but you can never change that.

Che Guevara is credited with saying that, “A true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”

I am not feeling any love from those we have entrusted with our future, our hopes, our desires, our children’s interests. DM


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

[%% img-description %%]

The Spy Bill: An autocratic roadmap to State Capture 2.0

Join Heidi Swart in conversation with Anton Harber and Marianne Merten as they discuss a concerning push to pass a controversial “Spy Bill” into law by May 2024. Tues 5 Dec at 12pm, live, online and free of charge.