What if the ANC lost in 2009? (1)
It seems as though every time I turn on the radio, tv and read a newspaper (all of which I do more than my fair share of) somebody wants to talk about Fikile Mbalula, Zwelinzima Vavi, Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema. It is incredible to me the extent to which people will go to ensure that they are in the public eye. In showbiz they say any publicity is good publicity. Well, I guess the alliance partners think so too given the ways in which they have been hogging the airwaves even when there has been nothing interesting to say.
The ANC is a few years away from turning a 100. It would be a damn shame if it did not make it to that centenary because the people in charge of the various bits are so set on a self-destructive path. Self-destructive for whom?, you may well ask. A good question this. I would hazard a guess that this is a self-destructive path for all of us who live in this country, who want to keep living in this country, who love this continent, who do not think human dignity is negotiable, who believe that the ANC has a conflicted but noteworthy past that should be treasured and deserved, who think gender matters beyond the lipservice paid to it by various misogynists that we are now supposed to think of as leaders.
First, the defiantly re-asserted claim that Malema and co would “kill for Zuma” is troubling at a myriad of levels. Who would they be willing to kill for Zuma? The judiciary that they are rubbishing? They were very happy with the patriarchal judge who let Zuma go during his rape trial. What has happened now? I suppose it is a case of “when the judiciary agrees with us, it is impartial, when it is against us, it is open for attack”. Sadder, still, are the effects of such threats for SA: it doesn’t matter who Malema and co claim they were threatening when they said such things and then all scurried to back each other up. What matters is that this kind of threat communicates quite clearly that they do not care what this country wants and are willing to hold us all hostage for not being in their “camp”, whatever that means. Since they are so big on conspiracies, I am convinced that the whole “camp” talk (Mbeki vs Zuma) is really about something altogether different. We will get worn out focusing on the inner-wranglings between two “camps” with patriarchal, dodgy men at the helm of each, while the real business of stealing the country and holding us hostage takes place sneakily.
But SAns are loud-mouths and opinionated if we are nothing else. And this is our country, not just Malema’s, no matter what he says. Malema et al’s threat is to the ordinary South African who dares disagree with what Malema Inc think should happen in the country, who disagrees with who should lead, who has other ideas about the value of human life, who is critical of the culture of militarism that is our double edged inheritance on this continent.
What is the proper response to these threats? What happens if it has the opposite effect to what threats usually achieve: what if people are embarassed, enraged and put off by threats to kill those who disagree — because that is really what these threats are about — and choose to use their voices, hands and minds to vote differently next year? Yes, most of us have proudly voted ANC in the past even without having carried membership cards. Some of us have eagerly canvassed for the ANC in elections in the past, owned membership to allied organisations (COSAS/SANSCO/SASCO, etc). But if most people who vote ANC in national elections have never been ANC members, choosing that party for what it meant and had been able to achieve in the past, what is to stop people resisting being bullied in the future by those who have taken over the same party?
People are not stupid, and Malema Inc would do well to remember this. If the ANC lost next year, it would not be the first liberation movement turned political party to have suffered this fate. The same arrogance and bullying that Malema et al subject us to now has been seen elsewhere too, to varying degrees and ends.
Personally, I would have prefered to see the ANC in power well into its next 100 years, but I fear that if this happens it will be a different ANC from the one that freed this country and has been voted into power over and over again. It would be an ANC which is happy to trade on ethnic nationalism (also known as tribalism) much like the IFP and Bantustans did, even as this contradicts the very heart of the organisation.
Perhaps, I should not despair. A friend of mine says people get the government they deserve. If I believed that I would have to believe that we deserved apartheid, that Zimbabweans deserve the current crisis (speaking of movements gone awry), that Nigerians deserved all those coups and dictatorships, etc, etc. I don’t. But I know that spin works and these days we are so uncritical of spin that when Malema Inc pretend that threats of violence are the same thing as vigilance and militance, we believe them. What if we didn’t? Which country would that be?