Opinionista Phillip Dexter 4 April 2017

A Howling Wolf in the Wilderness

Marius Fransman must, as all of us have to who have erred, prove that he is a loyal, disciplined member of the ANC by remaining quiet for the duration of his suspension.

The former Chairperson of the ANC, Marius Fransman, has recently launched an extraordinary attack on the Secretary-General of the organisation. For a suspended member who is awaiting a decision on his appeal against his suspension, this seems a suicidal thing to do. Yet, this is not the first time Fransman has behaved this way. He long ago stopped being a disciplined member of the ANC. He long ago stopped being a leader who would take responsibility for his own actions. That he has now turned to defend another member of the ANC who is defying the authority of the national leadership of the ANC is part of a strategy he and others have to change the character of the ANC from being a coherent, disciplined force of the left, to being a moribund, loose network of individuals who are hell-bent on accumulating what they can by any means necessary.

At the same time, he sent out another missive, claiming to defend the President of the ANC and of the Republic from a “soft coup”. He is so shameless, so apolitical and so deficient in the politics of the ANC that the contradiction and the irony in his statements, like most things, fly way over his own head.

Fransman has long claimed to have the political protection of certain national leaders. Whenever he has deviated from ANC policy or guidelines, he has sought to deflect attention from his transgression. During the 2014 elections, the ANC in the Western Cape had to do damage control on a number of occasions where his utterances were out of line. A prime example of this was when he expressed a view that “Jews” controlled the property sector in the urban areas. Instead of withdrawing these remarks and apologising for them, Fransman tried to suggest that these were made in the context of the issue of Israel/Palestine. He attempted to make his transgression a national issue. Thankfully, the ANC saw through this opportunism and it corrected this nonsense.

The question of whether Comrade Andile Lungisa undermined the constitution of the ANC is a matter to be decided by the appropriate structures of the organisation. Marius Fransman is entitled to his opinion on these matters, but these are not for him to distribute and to broadcast.

But to pre-empt these processes, just as he tried to do with his own disciplinary process, is to demonstrate a profound disrespect for democracy, for the organisation and for the leadership of the organisation. His arrogance precludes him from behaving as he should while suspended. But again, it is his opportunism in using the issue of Lungisa’s decision to stand for the position of regional chairperson in Nelson Mandela Bay after being told that he was not eligible for this position in terms of the ANC constitution. It is Fransman’s crude attempt to make common cause with Lungisa against Mantashe that is at play here. Thankfully, Comrade Lungisa did the right thing and resigned from the position.

Recently, a group of Fransman’s “supporters” (another foreign thing to the ANC constitution, members of a member) started distributing T-shirts with a profile of Fransman on them, demanding that he be reinstated to his previous position. Given his behaviour, given his track record in leading the ANC to its biggest ever electoral losses in the Western Cape, given the divisions he has created and still tries to foment, reinstating Fransman would be disastrous for the organisation. Fransman must, as all of us have to who have erred, prove that he is a loyal, disciplined member of the ANC by remaining quiet for the duration of his suspension, by allowing the disciplinary process he, as a member of the ANC, has been rightly subjected to.

That his “supporters” still try to suggest that Fransman was lured into a “honey trap” by one of the women who has alleged sexual harassment on his part only goes to show their backward, misogynist character. That Fransman allows them to utter such things without correcting them shows that, apart from his anti-semitism, his “coloured” chauvinism as manifested in his Cape Forum initiative and his general lack of good character, he shares their view of women.

The ANC must discipline Fransman for this blatant transgression of the ANC constitution. While the leadership are at it, they should also look into the many other issues that have arisen about his behaviour, including the allegations of sexual harassment by other women against Fransman, of his refusal to account for funds donated to various organisations he set up or used, such as the NGO Ruminet and the NPO the Western Cape Social and Economic Development Forum, as well as his claims to have legitimately accumulated over R250-million while he was an MEC and a Deputy Minister. In this regard, the organisation must also investigate why it is that Fransman will not account to the Provincial legislature Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Now Fransman, the champion of the President (which is a bit like a Tele Tubby standing up to defend Baloo the Bear from Shere Khan the Tiger) seeks to suggest that their is a “coup” against the President. While the organisation is going through a complicated period, during which throwing around remarks such as these is akin to pouring petrol onto a fire, Fransman applies his junior school level analysis to the situation and makes these remarks. What we all should be doing is allow the freedom of all members of the ANC to speak, debate all the crucial challenges we face as an organisation and then act to unite for the benefit of our people. Instead, Fransman wants to use this moment to ingratiate himself with a faction of the organisation in the hope that this will mean his appeal is favourably looked upon and he can return to wreak havoc on the ANC in the Western Cape.

It is a shame, really. What Fransman should do is quietly retire to the country and live off his ill-gotten gains. Hopefully, there will be a thorough investigation of him so that we can get back anything that was taken from the public purse. DM

Dr Phillip Dexter is a member of the ANC.

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