Shikota hypocrisy

2008-11-10 00:00

The stage has been set for what other analysts and the mainstream media term as the major development on our political landscape. However, little has been said about the hypocrisy underlying the positions of the two dissidents, Mbhazima Shilowa and Mosiuoa Terror Lekota, in particular.

The reasons advanced for the formation of the new rival political party leaves much to be desired and in fact borders on political thuggery.

It is common knowledge that the two leaders vigorously campaigned for a third term for Thabo Mbeki and if that failed they were clear that an alternative had to be found and what we have now is the plan B in action. No amount of engagement or convincing is going to change them now. The Shikota movement is still suffering from the ego bruises of Polokwane and is very bitter that the project of

modelling the ANC into an elite party for a intellectuals was defeated at Polokwane.

The Shikota movement would like us to believe that it has suddenly found salvation like Saul on the road to Damascus. But only fools will forget that Lekota has been at the helm of the government since the democratisation project started in 1994. He has served as the Minister of Science, Arts, Culture and Technology, and more recently as Minister of Defence. During his tenure, Mbeki and his cronies were meting out patronage to all who worshipped him and

creating a personality cult around him, something unheard of in the history of the ANC.

It was during this period that real purging by Mbeki took place and ruthless suppression of differing views took shape.

Where was Lekota when Pregs Govender, Nozizwe Madlala and other activists were marginalised for taking a position on HIV/Aids? Where was Lekota when Nelson Mandela was humiliated by the Mbeki NEC on the issue of HIV/Aids and branded an agent of the

pharmaceutical companies?

Where was Lekota when stalwarts of the struggle such as Jeremy Cronin were hounded in front of the Mbeki ANC and called racist simply for cautioning against the Zanufication of the ANC? Where was he when the people of Khutsong, in large numbers, demonstrated their democratic right to decide their future?

The fact of the matter is that Lekota was at the front of that assault on the democratic values that have driven the ANC historically. Did the Freedom Charter, which said that the people shall govern, not apply to the people of Khutsong or was it the case of the few elite deciding what’s best for the people? It is common knowledge that Lekota went to Khutsong with an army of people to tell the community that they couldn’t have what they wanted.

Where was Lekota and the Constitution when Mbeki sabotaged the right of people to decide about their medical conditions by denying them access to ARV treatment when members of his cabinet and Parliament had that access through a parliamentary health insurance scheme? Where was Lekota when close to a million people since 1994 were evicted from farms? What happened to the Freedom Charter clause that stated that the land shall be shared among those who work it? Or did it mean that it would be shared among only those in the executive, as many seem to have amassed land at the expense of the landless and needy?

Where was Lekota when millions of youth, especially blacks, were denied access to higher education simply because they were from poor families and therefore could not afford decent education? Or was the clause that stated that the doors of learning and culture shall be opened to all amended to mean that the doors of education and culture shall be open only to a wealthy few?

Where was Shilowa when Gauteng, and in particular Johannesburg, embarked on the privatisation and commodification of basic services and kicked out the poor working-class families and traders to create an exclusionist world- class city for the affluent? Where was Shilowa when apartheid-style forced removals in places such as Thembalihle, outside Lenasia intensified? It was Shilowa’s regime that unleashed the notorious Red Ants to evict the poor and the working-class families.

Which policies and programmes did he pursue to advance the interest of the working people who through the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) moved him directly from the position of a security guard to becoming the premier of the wealthiest province? Such hypocritical tendencies must be exposed so that current and future leaders may know that they too are under a watchful eye and will in future be asked these questions.

The Shikota movement must accept that it is bitter because its project of consolidating power crumbled in Polokwane. In any event, democracy is brutal. It is unthinking that the movement sees itself as above the party and cannot stomach democratic defeat. It was defeated with all the patronage resources it had.

The notion that the ANC has deviated from the Freedom Charter is a subject of debate. However, the Shikota movement is unable to say when and how that shift happened and what it did to arrest the situation. Has there been any major policy announcement since Polokwane that we can say is a departure from the Freedom Charter? No. Remember that Polokwane was in December 2007.

The Shikota movement has advanced the notion that those who supported Mbeki are being purged within the ANC. The ANC can speak for itself on the issue. I suppose there is truth in that. My observation is that Mbeki would not have acted differently, given his long history of vindictiveness and ruthless purging.

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