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Beware the rising intensity of warfare against democracy and South Africa’s Constitution

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Ismail Lagardien is a writer, columnist and political economist with extensive exposure and experience in global political economic affairs. He was educated at the London School of Economics, and holds a PhD in International Political Economy.

It should come as no surprise that the brand of disinformation produced by ‘journalist’ Thabo Makwakwa has important antecedents in the old Soviet Union, and the black propaganda Moscow spread from the KGB.

It may be time to start worrying. There is no need to panic – not yet. But there may be a war brewing within the ANC. If it does break out, there will be a lot of collateral damage to society and to the institutions we hold dear. 

The main factions within the ANC appear to be clear – it’s the Constitutionalists on one hand and those in bed with the so-called Radical Economic Transformation group on the other. The latter include those who promote the politics of revenge and a crude version of ethnocentrism driven by a hatred of “non-Africans”. 

Driving this politics of revenge and hatred of “non-Africans” are the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), with tacit (and sometimes quite overt) support from key individuals in society who spend their time searching for “non-African” blacks to scapegoat. If this “war” plays out, it will necessarily spill over into society. 

While the RET-EFF Axis has made clear their objections (the political settlement of the 1990s, the Constitution and the very presence of “non-Africans” in positions of influence, authority and power), the first offensive tactical manoeuvre has been made towards reaching a decisive point – a point at which they (the Axis leaders) can gain an advantage over the Constitutionalists and those of us who are fully aware of the problems that beset the country, but who choose to work within the boundaries of the laws that govern the country and avoid letting the solution to the problems be more unjust than were the injustices the majority of South Africans were exposed to over centuries. 

You don’t burn down a clinic when your headache will not go away, or burn down a library if it does not have a hagiography of your hero.

Indirect attacks and disinformation weaken the Constitutionalists

The Axis have approached the coming conflict systematically with attacks on individual journalists and news outlets (that have retained their independence).

They have established paramilitary formations (which look more comical by the day) and have started spreading disinformation. 

All of this is a type of bait-and-bleed strategy, the main objective of which is to have the Constitutionalists (let’s assume that the majority of ANC NEC are Constitutionalists) fight each other, and bleed each other white.

They have done these directly and indirectly: the most recent (overt) attack has been the Rupert-rules-Ramaphosa allegation, in which Mcebisi Jonas and Trevor Manuel have also been ensnared. I don’t know where in the world Jonas and Manuel are, but I am sure they are not in the pocket of anyone – black or white. 

This may seem like a genius move by the Axis, in that, if true (and it is difficult to find a shred of truth in the story), it is intended to further upset the equilibrium of the Constitutionalists. 

Although there is an argument to be made that they are misguided, there are many people who have bought into the politics of revenge, and the (awful and insulting) claim that “non-African” blacks “fail forward”, and by extension block opportunities for “real Africans”. 

One outcome of this is to separate the population from the Constitutionalists, who are now branded as “sell-outs” or brainless factotums of “white monopoly capital” – with Johann Rupert pulling the strings. Never mind that there is no shred of information, the separation of the Constitutionalists from the population, deny them re-entry and retention of legitimate authority in state and legal institutions, and in the media. 

Put bluntly, if you pronounce on likely criminal activities of any Axis leaders, you are a patsy of white people and you hate Africans. This was, arguably, the objective of Thabo Makwakwa’s report published by Independent Media last week. It was tactical disinformation, aimed at penetrating and exploiting fractures among ANC NEC members, (to sow further discord), and weaken the Constitutionalists. 

Makwakwa’s report, “Rupert gives Ramaphosa an ultimatum”, is the thickening edge of the wedge of disinformation that is reproduced by Axis members like Carl Niehaus, who most reasonable people are still trying to work out what the point of Carl, actually, is…

It should come as no surprise that this brand of disinformation has important antecedents in the old Soviet Union, and the black propaganda Moscow spread from the KGB. The EFF’s basic documents affirm their loyalty to Leninist-Marxism. 

The biggest danger of this disinformation lies in the fact that South Africa’s education system has failed so many people, most of whom depend on the rhetoric and cant (and disinformation) of political leaders, or public intellectuals who are unabashedly promoting another agenda. Carter Woodson, writing about the effects of miseducation in the US, explained:

“History shows that… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others, never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.”

And so “the people” take leaders of the Axis, and the likes of Makwakwa, as unimpeachable sources of knowledge and information. The likely outcome of all this is that when Ace Magashule does “step down” or “move aside”, the (predictable) response will (probably) be that Johann Rupert ordered Ramaphosa to get rid of Ace Magashule. 

Nothing will be said about any of the criminal charges that he may face. And anyway, the Axis has already thrown shade on the legal system: see, for instance, the way Dali Mpofu has behaved at the Zondo Commission. 

With respect to our courts, I will leave the last words to Professor Balthazar

“There have been numerous instances recently where counsel have behaved with astounding discourtesy to the Bench, seeking, it would appear, to intimidate judges. The State Capture Commission alone has experienced a number of occasions when the second-highest ranking judge in South Africa, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has been subjected to treatment that can only cause damage to the legitimacy of the Bench. Forensic skill from the Bar is replaced with bluster. If the Deputy Chief Justice is seen as powerless in seeking to curb this behaviour, how much more so will be a single judge or a magistrate presiding in a high-profile case?”

As any half-decent military strategist may confirm, the Axis is proceeding (for now) with a low-intensity warfare against the better of South Africa’s leaders, and those who want to protect the Constitution, and the agencies and institutions that hold the country together. 

It is typical of the scorched earth, or devil take the hindmost, approach to politics of fascism. DM

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  • Most of these people will have soft under bellies when it comes to corrupt or other criminal activity and should be focussed on in order to expose this where possible. South Africans deserve a peaceful prosperous future and no it one that it’s lead by a tiny minority on the lunatic fringe.

  • Great article and well written. I am rather intrigued with the support someone like 00dezz (Desmund Bernardo) has shown this “journalist” Thabo Makwakwa in a video where he clearly supports the article…or have I got it wrong?

  • SA needs to deal decisively with these evil thieves and psychopaths under the State Capture, RET and EFF banner, who want to steal this country blind and turn it into a Zimbabwe/Venezuela. The result will a failed state and a wasteland. Also those peddlers of fake news and deceit like Surve etc.