Opinionista Omry Makgoale 16 July 2018

Are fundamental changes taking place in SA’s main political parties?

Is decay setting in among South African political parties, or is there a maturing of democracy? These are strange times. It is not easy to understand what is happening.


The ANC is as divided as ever. The more they talk of unity after the Nasrec elective conference last December, the more glaring the divisions appear.

Former president Jacob Zuma is still part of ANC campaign machinery, according to Fikile Mbalula, the head of ANC’s election campaign looking to the general election next May. Zuma’s allies Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte are still in charge of Luthuli House, the former president attends every NEC meeting without failure staring at his supposed detractors in their eyes, and sending shivers through their spines because he supposedly has a bag full of skeletons. Unlike former president Thabo Mbeki who took recess after being removed from office, he is here to stay.

Zuma is in the corridors of power, while short of being in office. The ANC cannot be renewed under his watch. We see no new dawn.

It’s the same with the generals. General Berning Ntlemeza, formerly head of the Hawks, and former acting national police commissioner General Khomotso Phahlane (no longer accused of fraud, money laundering and corruption) – deployed by former crime intelligence boss, retired General Richard Mdluli – are still in charge, making sure there will be no successful investigation of the Guptas and their friends. Their mission is simple: to scuttle all the cases related to State Capture beneficiaries. They will ensure there will be no successful prosecutions.

The new boards of state-owned enterprises (SoEs) Eskom, Transnet, Denel, and Prasa are facing a fight back from the former State Capture beneficiaries. The former beneficiaries of State Capture have resorted to kidnapping the current board members, who are demanding payback from the beneficiaries of fraudulent deals as indicated by the case of recent Prasa board chairperson, Khanyisile Kweyama. She was physically kidnapped, placed in the boot of her car and threatened to dare to continue with her restructuring. (Strangely enough, the same thing happened to the rail agency’s acting CEO, Lindikhaya Zide, who was thrown into the boot of his car by unidentified assailants three months previously. “Only” his briefcase was stolen.)

Who rules in South Africa today? That is the question.

Politically, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) would wish that Zuma should be far from ANC election campaigning, but they are paralysed and cannot dictate to the ANC as to who should or should not be on its campaign trail.

For its part, the DA (Democratic Alliance) has fumbled the case of Patricia de Lille, the former Pan Africanist Congress firebrand and DA mayor of Cape Town since 2011, who has always been difficult to manage by anybody. She is being removed for supposedly refusing to sign a tender from an Israeli water treatment company supplying desalination – that is, a plant treating sea water to produce drinking water – as part of a crucially-needed improvement in water security in previously drought-stricken Cape Town.

The white liberals in the DA and the timid DA leader Mmusi Maimane are caught wanting. The lack of consistency in handling the DA premier of Western Cape, Helen Zille, and De Lille has left a taste of sour grapes among most black DA members and voters. There appears no fairness in how they handle white leaders as compared to black leaders. The white DA leaders appear more equal than the black leaders. The black middle class voters of the DA are left doubting, they cannot differentiate the trunk from the tail of this elephant called the DA. This is unfortunate for our democracy as a country.

We then have EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) with its national chairperson Adv Dali Mpofu giving legal advice to Tom Moyane, the former SA Revenue Service chief who is alleged to be a Gupta deployee, and who made sure that cigarette barons do not pay taxes while the Gupta-related companies also do not pay taxes. Moyane has led to a shortfall of more R50-billion in collection of tax revenues. ANC government has now raised VAT from 14% to 15%, affecting the most poor of the poor.

As we know, EFF claims to be representing the most poor of the poor but they cannot see the link between Tom Moyane’s performance at SARS and the resulting financial burden on the poor. Could this be ignorance or hypocrisy? The tobacco baron paid the EFF registration fee for the last general elections. There is no ethical behaviour here.

Jacques Pauw has perfectly captured the role of tobacco barons in his book, The President’s Keepers. (But there is a world of difference in South Africa between State Capture and the capture of a truth.)

All these political parties have patriotic members and fraudsters sitting happily alongside each other.

To filter the fraudsters from the patriots in all South African political parties, something has to change. The old party-list system has to go, with its domination of the legislature by the cronies of the political elites.

It is only by parliamentary electoral reforms establishing multi-member constituencies where 75% of members of parliament are elected directly by the voters and only 25% of MPs are appointed by party headquarters that we can shift the balance in favour of ourselves, the people – we, the voters of South Africa.

It is well over time we stood up in our own interest, and demanded our own say over the political class, instead of letting ourselves be trampled on.

We are being mocked by our corrupt adversaries, who treat the people like fools. In our passivity, we are our own worst enemies.

We need to remember what Steve Biko taught us as most important – the problem of self-negation, what he called “a certain state of alienation” in which we allow ourselves to be dominated from outside ourselves because of a sense of inferiority, what he called an imprisoning concept”.

For how long can we tolerate this culture of self-abuse? DM

Omry Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views.

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