Opinionista Mavuso Msimang 29 July 2021

An unauthorised ANC apology to the nation

We of the ANC have visited upon the nation a veritable winter of despair, which led to death and destruction. It mostly punished the poor, a high percentage of whom we created on our watch, because of inappropriate policy options and misgovernance.

Mavuso Msimang

Mavuso Msimang is widely recognised as a leader of change in South Africa with varied experience in transforming institutions. He has been a member of the WWF South Africa Board since February 2011 and chairs the Social Ethics and Transformation Committee. He also sits on the Board’s Remuneration and Human Resources and Nomination Committees.

We, members of the African National Congress (ANC), owe the nation an unqualified apology for the unparalleled scale of destruction that took place in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)and Gauteng on 8 July and continued for more than a week thereafter. We, and we alone, are responsible for kindling the mayhem whose final toll defies computation.

What is known is that to date more than 350 people lost their lives. Unknown is the number of others who died because they were denied access to life-saving medical attention at a time when the nation was grappling with the dreadful Covid-19 Delta variant. These deaths will have occurred as a result of the mindless ambulance hijackings, looting of pharmacies and a blood bank, the pillaging of warehouses and random road blockages. Some of the most vulnerable members of society were left without means of sustenance. 

People are now spending a lot of time looking for food and waiting long hours in queues where they find it. Job losses, most keenly felt among the low skilled, are said to exceed a couple of hundred thousand. There aren’t adequate words to describe the ruthless pummeling of the economy that, inter alia, incapacitated the nation’s major export-import artery, the N3; had long-haulage trucks set alight; and put Durban, our busiest port, temporarily out of commission.

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, we of the ANC have visited upon the nation a veritable winter of despair, which led to death and destruction. It mostly punished the poor, a high percentage of whom we created on our watch, because of inappropriate policy options and misgovernance.

When the Constitutional Court ordered Jacob Zuma to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to respond to about three dozen allegations of corruption against him, he refused. He was slapped with a contempt of court charge. Believing he could disregard laws that govern everybody else in the country, Zuma spurned participation in judicial processes he despised. So, he was tried in absentia.

On 29 June the court unanimously found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to 15 months of imprisonment. The term was to start within five days of the judgment, failing to obey which, the apex court directed the police minister and the police commissioner to ensure that he was taken to prison within three days.

True to character, he ignored the court’s deadline and had to be escorted to the Estcourt Correctional Centre by the police, minutes before the set time elapsed. This triggered the excuse the instigators of the 8 July violence had been waiting for. We of the ANC apologise that we elected such a person ANC president and, because you gave us the largest number of seats in Parliament, he also became the president of South Africa.

We also apologise that for many years disgruntled ANC members worked overtime making provocative utterances, totally unrestrained by us. In February 2021 already, members of our wayward Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) went to Nkandla and camped outside Zuma’s homestead, ready, so they said, to stop any law enforcement officer from arresting Zuma. 

For years, we of the ANC gave this group carte blanche to be a public nuisance, instead of concentrating on what it was established to do, namely, to help desperately poor military veterans who participated in the liberation struggle, but have since fallen on hard times.

Instead, the MKMVA allowed itself to be misled by shady characters, who randomly incited them to take to the streets and demand jobs, ahead of the rest of the citizens, because they “fought for the liberation of this country”. Much as they deserve jobs, it was never meant to be done in a discriminatory fashion. We of the ANC apologise for this. We know the MKMVA rank and file did this because their political leaders were in the habit of giving jobs to their friends and forgot about them. 

We also know that despite strenuous denials, the MKMVA participated in attacks on African migrants. Also, there are people in the ANC who profess “Radical Economic Transformation” (RET). This brigade says it owes its loyalty to Zuma and claims that his skirmishes with the judiciary are politically motivated. They say he is persecuted because of his principled opposition to “White Monopoly Capital”.

The only problem is that they can’t show anyone any RET programmes Zuma pursued or the struggles he waged against “White Monopoly Capital” during his two-term presidency. Since these are intelligent people, we of the ANC believe these people have an ulterior motive. As Zuma’s arrest drew closer, the RET warned that his imprisonment would spark civic unrest and they worked assiduously to bring that about. We of the ANC apologise that we didn’t do anything about this.  

The ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) has always been divided about how to relate to Zuma despite the enormous problems he has created for the ANC and the country. Anyway, the NEC cancelled its meeting at the beginning of July and sent some of its senior people to Nkandla to “ensure that the situation [did] not become volatile”.

This would be laughable if it had not been for the seriousness of the matter. Among the people sent to Nkandla were Zuma acolytes who knew about the sabotage campaign that was planned if Zuma was arrested. The NEC said it sent a balanced delegation to Nkandla. No sooner were the ANC notables in Nkandla than Tony Yengeni mounted the stage, with the suspended ANC secretary-general and the redoubtable Carl Niehaus, and shouted his support for Zuma — all in the glare of media cameras. We of the ANC apologise for the naivete of our leaders.

We have noted with deep embarrassment a minister publicly contradicting the president. We were also ashamed to see two ministers engaging in a public spat. We of the ANC apologise for this. We have been requested by some fishermen to convey their message to the president.

It suggests that when one day, hopefully soon, the president contemplates reducing his unwieldy Cabinet while also making essential replacements, he might wish to consider casting his net beyond the NEC pool and look at the shoal swimming in fresher water in Parliament. Failing that, they fear, he might never achieve herd immunity against incompetence and corruption in his administration. DM

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All Comments 33

  • Like the leader of the ANC, Ramaphosa, you seem to think that it is adequate to present a shopping list of what happened as some sort of acknowledgement. Anybody old enough to read here has lived through it and knows exactly how you collectively, repeatedly failed the country. Ticking the little box ‘apology’ at each item does not make it better; just sounding more hollow, phoney and insulting.
    As always, no action beyond ‘hoping’ that the president ‘might consider’ is suggested. All the fishing metaphors, Dickens references, herd immunity quotes do not make your piece anything better than sorry and so what. Even you, as a movement elder, seem to think that, having mouthed the word ‘apology’ you have a license to carry on exactly like before – no remedial action, no mending of ways required. About one thing you are correct: there aren’t adequate words.

  • I think this one could garner support with a large number of ANC members and branches! Maybe it is time for an ANC focused on the genuine well-being of the nation to set its sights on 40% of the vote rather than a chaotic 60% broad church mandate ending in paralysis and infighting?

  • With respect, anyone over 50 reading this will realise that this apology , while like a feint glimmer in the distance, is far from illuminating the scope of what needs to be apologised for. The ANC has stolen the hopes and dreans of all good people accross the Nation. The ANC stole the country and installed an unauthorised policy of civil war, and now that they have been caught, you wish to apologise on its behalf. And while its the right sentiment moving forward, your apology represents a tiny few, and its not enough. By an entire measure of one whole country, its not enough.

    • Im in agreement with all the comments so far and wish to just say: Too little, Too late Mr President. Hope has also been captured!!!

  • Regrettably I am not sure that these sentiments are widely shared in the ANC…..hard to say but would like to think that there are some like this writer, but until the ANC moves its liberation mindset to one of a proper political party interested in governing the interests of South Africa as a whole and not just the ANC and personal self-interest often times it is hard to see a way out. CR is limited in what he can do as we must not forget, though I am sure it will be denied, but tribalism lies at the heart of much of this too and so his own base is quite limited and relies on faustian bargains with some unsavoury elements in the ANC no doubt. It would require someone of enormous courage and fearless intent to fix this – I simply do not see that in the current leadership. Very sad for SA, many in the ANC both current, and past I should add,
    have a lot to answer for!

  • Too little too late, I’m afraid. Your sentiment is appreciated, but what’s the point? Since we’re in a political kitchen baking apologies, let me say, the milk is spilt, all of it. The cake has flopped. Why not? It was baked with a recipe for disaster. Dinner is burnt and we’ve run out of gas. The oven ain’t working and the chef didn’t turn up for his shift. The lights are out, the taps running dry. The waiters are waiting – and so are the rest of us – for the kitchen to disappear in a puff of smoke, like it never was. You seem like good guy, someone with a new recipe, but what’s the use without a kitchen?

    • It is never too late. Philip Armstrong in the previous comment has in my opinion, pinpointed the dilemna faced by Cyril Ramaphosa in having to ‘rely on Faustian bargains with unsavoury elements in the ANC ‘. There remains hope that enough of the ‘unsavoury elements’, especially those in the cabinet, will wake up and realise that the split in the ANC is now literally playing with fire and that it is now time for them to either resign or give our President the full support needed

      • There is no hope that the ‘unsavoury elements’ would suddenly develop the integrity it would take to resign for the good of the country. There is simply too much at stake for these characters and they will never willfully give up the gravy train – they will fight until there is nothing left.

  • Are you acting on behalf of the ANC or are you an ordinary member of this criminal organisation? When did your Damascus moment arrive? Only now after your organisation has looted the entire SA into the ground? Where were you when others left the ANC years ago when they finally realised that your organisation is nothing but a Mafia gang aimed at self-enrichment through corruption and by using the newly-found democracy to lie to millions of uninformed voters to keep in power and keep on looting? It also appears you will stay on in the folds of this cancer. How can you lead the Ethics Committee of the WWF if you clearly do not understand the meaning of the word? How can you think an apology by an individual would make anything good? An apology does not change anything. You have to be seen to actaully DO something positive.
    Not you nor your cancerous organisation have that ability.

  • Diabolical liberty to use this platform for such an insult dressed as an apology. The electorate deserves an apology, from the ANC NEC, from SAPS, from CI, from MI, from the MVKA, but you are neither mandated nor qualified to give one. Sir.

  • Unlike when Evita Bezuidenhoudt apologised for Apartheid, ‘the ANC’ did not say “…en ons sal dit nooit weer doen nie!”

  • Thank you for your honesty. We forgive you because we know about absolute power and what it does to those who wield it. Thank you for leading us through a peaceful transition in 1994. We, the people of South Africa will take it from here.

  • Thank you for facing the truth of what the ANC has done. I am very heartened to see that you admit that there have been inappropriate policy options.
    Business leaders, the IMF and other knowledgeable organizations with proven track records keep calling for “structural reforms”, when are these going to be implemented and government policy change in a rational direction to grow the economy and create desperately needed jobs?

    That is a by far the biggest threat facing this country and it is caused not only by horrendously mind-blowing levels of corruption, but also by very poor policy-making in government.

    Where are the structural reforms that are so desperately needed?
    Where is the renouncement of EWC which has devastated investor confidence at a time we need it most?
    Where is the acknowledgement that while universal health coverage is an admirable and desirable goal, NHI in its proposed form is not affordable and will decimate our health care industry?
    Where is the shift away from central state control, and towards a competitive market-driven economy?
    Where is the shift away from race-based policy making towards rational policy that prioritises South Africans and not a black elite?
    Isn’t it time to start emulating countries that have succeeded, rather than trying to copy failed states?

    • Martin please remember this is a ‘liberation movement’, (previously known as a terrorist organisation) from Africa. Time to feed at the trough is still in full swing. The goose (SA Taxpayers) keeps on laying eggs and the frenzy will only be over when absolutely everything has been destroyed.

  • A friend of mine was asking “when will the government change its ways?”. I answered, “In SA, government = ANC, and communist dominated parties don’t give up power until forced to do so by PEACEFUL popular uprisings, e.g. Europe and the Iron Curtain”.

    To be honest, I find it very difficult to imagine a reformed ANC. They have managed, not only, to capture the government, but also to capture the entire country. And, all based on and rooted in an outdated, widely discredited Marxist/Leninist total party central control ideology, designed with the highest priority goal of keeping the party in power forever. What is needed is new ethical leadership coupled to a new vision that brings together the best minds in the country from the left and the right (political, social, and economic) to develop and propose a solution that is relevant and uniquely South African, one that offers real hope to our precious people in their own lifetime.

  • Clearly, this is not “adequate” as an apology. But was it meant to be? As far as I know, Cde Msimang is no idiot and no sycophant, so it might be worth wondering what this “unauthorised apology” is meant to do. Perhaps to appeal to or motivate some “we of the ANC” that is ashamed of “naive” leaders and “inappropriate policy options and misgovernance” and “wayward” MK veterans? Again, so what? Tell us something we don’t know! To suggest that there are less compromised – or positively, more honourable and responsible – MPs in parliament? That would be nice, and it would be good to see them get on with it, but what of “we of the ANC” who can’t wait for parliament to sort itself, who don’t see indication that it wants to or even could? This “apology” remains impenetrable, as far as I can see.

    • Where was integrity when the opportunities were created to get rid of jz? All anc MPs rather fell for the feeding trough, including cr.

  • Words, while nice, are cheap.
    The real question is what is the ANC going to do about it. Or should “we” the electorate do what democracies can do…vote for someone else.
    A big hand the old and may have had in political emancipation. Economic freedom not so much. The ‘comrades’ stuff had already proven to have failed before they got started and everyone else in the world knows it for what it is …a jobs for the boys and patronage club.

  • If you apologise for the ANC, it means that you still see yourself as one of them. If you can list the litany of their wrongs, how can you still be one of them? How can anyone be so loyal against principle? I call on you to encourage members to shift their support elsewhere!

  • It takes courage to openly admit to failures – it takes more courage to be an agent for change.
    Start with dumping bankrupt ideology, BEE and other growth stunting policies and the poor might have hope

  • What, no apology for Bell-Pottinger?
    A political party actually funding, probably using state money too, an organised campaign to intentionally incite race-based hatred. In all honesty, the evidence has been clear for some years now: the ANC is nothing more and nothing less than the Enemy of The People.

  • This is a spoof, a tongue in cheek piece that has no source within any ANC structure or person … it is a piece that will never ever be written by anyone within the ANC. An apology for what… ? We fought for and secured your freedom. We deserve our just rewards …

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