The blame game

2009-11-28 11:55

THE other day I surprised myself by

finding sense in something that Julius Malema, the president of the ANC Youth

League, said.

Responding to the Young Communist League’s Buti Manamela’s call for

former president Thabo Mbeki to be charged with genocide for his government’s

failure to provide anti-retroviral drugs to tens of thousands of people with

HIV, Malema said that, when he was president of the country, Mbeki was an ANC

president who was implementing ANC policy in ­government.

How refreshing for someone from the governing party to place the

former president right at the centre of the ANC.

Of course, should one have the inclination to dig deeper, one might

find that Malema’s motives in coming to Mbeki’s defence – that in itself the

stuff of headlines?– are not so pure and may have more to do with the

behind-the-scenes tussle for leadership positions that has engulfed the ANC so

far in advance of the party’s elective conference in 2012. And exactly the same

imperatives might be motivating the leader of the young communists who makes a

living as an ANC MP.

For his part, the youth league leader came up with some less than

palatable reasons for shooting down Manamela’s ridiculous call, saying: “That

will never ­happen. If there are those ­harbouring those interests then you must

know that we are going to part ways.
 You will never touch one of our own.

“If we allow that to happen with Mbeki, they will then do the same

with (Robert) Mugabe and (Jacob) Zuma,” he said.

Now therein lies the problem: in “our own” and “same with ­Mugabe

and Zuma”. Evidently in Malemaland some are more equal than others. We knew

this, of course, but it takes the youth leader’s brand of arrogance not to

­sugarcoat this reality.

However, one can’t fault his ­argument that Mbeki was leading an

ANC government.

What we have become accustomed to is a tendency in the ANC to blame

government failures in the last 15 years on an individual, Mbeki, but claim the

successes for the collective, the ANC government.

During the recent election, the ANC – as usual – campaigned on what

its government had “achieved” since 1994?– so many houses built, so many

households with running water, so many communities electrified and so many

children with social grants.

We were told that the reason South Africa has been somewhat

cushioned from the worst effects of the global financial crisis was because of

the economic policies of the “ANC government”.

Yet when a study by Harvard University researchers claimed that

about 330?000 South Africans died unnecessarily of Aids-related illnesses

between 2000 and 2005, that became one man’s doing.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the reason we have an

out-of-control Aids pandemic is because of the health policies of “Mbeki’s

government”.

Even Zuma, the very last person one would expect to throw stones at

others about Aids (after his comments about the vaccinating powers of a shower),

jumped on the blame-Mbeki bandwagon during a CNN TV interview.

This was the very same Zuma who was not only deputy president

between 2000 and 2005, but was at one time chairperson of the South African

National Aids Council.

This “let’s blame all our ills on Mbeki” trick has long reached its

sell-by date. On HIV/Aids in particular and the nonsense about genocide charges,

as a nation we would do well to heed the words of Nkululeko Nxesi, the

secretary-general of the National Association of People living with HIV/Aids:

“We need to spend all the limited resources and time we have in

fighting HIV and Aids rather than focusing on fighting people and things that

happened in the past. It is important that we move forward and stop trying to

settle scores and being vengeful.”

Hear, hear!

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