Opinionista Oscar Van Heerden 23 August 2017

The witch hunt that threatens our very democracy

A witch hunt is afoot, aimed at unmasking those who voted according to their conscience in a secret ballot on 8 August. This petty witch hunt has all the hallmarks of undermining the democratic values that we have fought for in our nation.

And so it has come to pass, the 8th no confidence vote was democratically exercised by our legislators, and in secret nogals.

If ever the Speaker of the House had any real ambition to be president of this our republic, it’s all but gone forever now. I say this because contrary to public opinion, she did not take the decision to allow a secret ballot of her own volition. No sir, she, after consultation at the very least with the President if not the SG, made a calculated decision to put this matter to rest once and for all. And indeed it did.

The outcome for all intents and purposes was a resounding victory for President Jacob Zuma, yes the opposition would want to make bold the additional vote they got from some of the ANC benches, but that is hardly what most wanted to see. Instead they wanted to see the back of Zuma. They did not deliver.

Zuma and his ilk, however, for nothing else but being petty, have decided that they must flush out these so-called traitors among them. The cheerleader to lead this assault will be no other than Kebby Maphatsoe, the deserter. Oh yes, the one armed man from MKVA ran away from his MK camp in Uganda because he could not stand the heat in the kitchen (excuse the pun). I say pun because our beloved MK veteran was just a cook in the camps.

The loss of his arm was in fact as a result of Ugandan armed forces shooting at him while he was running away from the MK camp, thinking he was the enemy. And when he was taken to hospital, insisted on asylum status and requested not to be returned to the camp because he knew he could face severe penalties, one of which could be death by firing squad.

And so, upon his return, he told old wive’s tales of his bravery in exile and how he lost his arm in defence of the people of Mzansi.

This is the so-called MK veteran that now spearheads a witch hunt that will supposedly unmask those that betrayed the revolution through their secret ballot vote.

I do wonder how you will accomplish this feat, if not through intimidation and victimisation tactics. In essence, challenging the very rights enshrined in our Constitution.

What we witnessed on the day in my mind was democracy at work and instead of celebrating it we now want to reduce it to factional politics. What a shame that we have such petty leaders in our midst.

I’m reminded of a Hollywood movie, The Contender, in which one of the political character’s retorts, Napoleon once said when asked to explain the lack of great statesmen in the world that ‘to get power you need to display absolute pettiness, to exercise power, you need to show true greatness’. Such pettiness and greatness are rarely found in one person.”

Rarely found in one person…

Instead of celebrating the greatness of our young democracy, Kebby and others want to show us their pettiness. This witch hunt has all the hallmarks of undermining what we have fought for as a nation. The sacrifices we made in the name of wanting the democratic vote, universal suffrage. Many have died in pursuit of its attainment. Kebby, that might not mean a lot to you but it sure means a lot to so many others. But Kebby wouldn’t know much about principles, commitment and fortitude. By pursuing this course of action you make a mockery of what we struggled for.

Perhaps the narrative should be that democracy has prevailed, that the President with all his flaws has succumbed to each and every no confidence vote, he and his executive have obeyed the ruling of the courts in this regard and that the ANC parliamentarians, though they were given clear instructions in caucus, exercised their democratic right on the day and the motion was defeated. End of story, but oh no, the moral and ethical considerations were nowhere to be found.

It does make one wonder, if you can go to this extent in the legislature, a constitutionally protected entity, where moral and ethical considerations were out the window, what indeed can we expect from the voting at the ANC National Conference at the end of the year? The mother of all votes will be taking place at the much anticipated conference.

Are we to assume that the same vigour and intimidation will also accompany the votes cast there by voting delegates to the conference?

Or worse yet, should we assume that since delegates will be casting their votes in keeping with their mandate from their respective branches, that they too will be told who to vote for? And if indeed the vote does not go according to manipulation and bribery, then we can expect another witch hunt led by Kebby as to who did not follow orders and decided to vote with their conscience. DM


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