Khaya Dlanga

The ANC turning into the Nats?

2010-08-12 09:06

Only unjust governments need a slew of laws that make basic democratic rights and freedoms illegal. The last time I read our Constitution we were not a police state.

The ANC would serve itself well by checking to see that it doesn't descend into the abyss of the liberation movements turned into human rights' violators. This is not to say that it is on the verge of being one, this is to serve as a mere warning.

The poisonous arrogance that power breeds is slowly seeping into the ANC as the stalwarts begin to fade away one by one. Those who remain are turning it into a self-serving department.

Fragile egos look for any excuse to turn what they see as a personal affront into a reason to flex their muscles and demonstrate to us how powerful they are and what they could do to those who "don't know what they can do".

Self-serving members of party

Some who have been put into positions of power by this organisation have forgotten what it is to serve the people, instead, they use their positions to serve the ANC and their political bosses. The purpose of the ANC was never to serve to the ANC, it was to serve the people.

In the words of Nelson Mandela as he spoke at the funeral of Oliver Tambo: "There are some who cannot comprehend that the right to rebellion against tyranny is the very guarantee of the permanence of freedom."

This is not to say the ANC is a tyrannical organisation - that would be alarmist.

The loud noises from the general citizenship about the proposed bill to curtail media freedom are foreign to a free and democratic society.

We cannot, and we will not allow the ANC to turn this organisation into something contrary to the vision of Oliver Tambo.

We must defend freedom even from those we credit for giving us that freedom. Freedom of the press is one of the tenets of democracy as Nelson Mandela once said. It is a right that must be fought for tooth and nail.

Keeping it in check

As the ANC does everything in its power to destroy its legacy, members of the free press are doing everything in their power to maintain its legacy - by raising flags, questioning the ANC, they keep it in check by making it accountable, not only to itself but to the nation.

Naturally some will say that it can keep itself in check. Of course they will, that is just the sound of arrogance one would expect.

Curtailing the freedom of the press only serves to weaken government and the ANC itself in the long run.

The ANC wants to control the media - ironically, it is the ANC that is out of control and needs controlling. This is what the proposed bill by the ANC suggests about the party.

Freedoms

Jackson Mthebu, ANC spokesperson said to the press recently: "Your freedom does not supersede the other freedoms that are there."

Then he went on to say: "We say there must be punishment when journalists mess up with reputations and dignity of members of society." Journalists have no right, correctly, to tarnish people's reputations.

All thinking members of society agree that the freedom of the press does not supersede other freedoms. Unfortunately the second line of Jackson Mthembu's statement is troubling.

When a public official has done wrong, initially he will deny and proclaim innocence only for the public to find out later that the person was far from innocent even though it may have appeared that they are innocent at first.

Information should not and cannot be allowed to be enslaved by a slew of laws that seek to keep it in chains. Information is the pillar of truth. A state cannot have too many secrets. But it must have secrets.

Getting personal

There are issues of national security that are always at stake that is understood, but there needs to be an agreed standard of what constitutes national security. The current bill allows anything to be a state secret.

No one is saying that the government must not try to protect itself from wayward journalists, but it must not treat all free press as though it were wayward.

The proposed bill in all intents and purposes makes anything the government deems secret, secret even without justification.

When the government becomes petty and starts to intimidate, meddle and threatens journalists instead of attending to issues of governing, there is a problem. Personal vendettas against the media will never lead to a better government.

Trying to hide incompetence behind the veil of "state secrets" is as incompetent as the bill. Never for a moment did we think we would have to defend ourselves from the ANC.

Blinded by power

Indeed, the press may be petty at times, but this government has no need to act petty as well. The bill seems nothing more than a personal matter.

The ANC's slow descent into the unfamiliar, the unrecognisable has not gone unnoticed. This party no longer sees itself as merely a party, but as the government.

It has been blinded by power, no longer recognises or sees the difference between what it means to be a party and a party in government.

The brazen arrogance with which a journalist was arrested at the whim of self-important party bosses seeks to make the ANC no different from a gang run by common thugs.

A party that seeks to create even more laws in a democracy to "protect itself" is moving towards dangerous territory.

- Follow Khaya on Twitter.

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