We need to start thinking for ourselves

2009-11-24 12:57

I read with interest and questions an article by Paul Whelan, he of

The Richmark Sentinel, where he posits that former president Thabo Mbeki was

never a government all by himself. He argues giving due consideration to the

fact that Mbeki was the head of state and the primary decision maker.

Some will argue that Mbeki, because of his perceived intellectual

prowess, dictated to his yes men and women in government the direction and

position that they should take despite what everyone else thought.

One thing is clear, many in the ANC felt alienated by Mbeki. They

struggled to engage him on issues and, even worse, to influence his decision

making. This may explain why many within the alliance came out guns blazing in

Polokwane intent on seeing the king falling. This also explains why many in the

alliance, having succeeded in Polokwane to get rid of Mbeki, continue their

efforts to discredit the man and cheapen his achievements and legacy.

A working example is the strength of mind of the Young Communist

League (YCL) in calling Mbeki’s prosecution for what they call the genocidal

effects of his “so-called denialist” approach in dealing with the scourge of


The point made by Whelan on the issue of collective responsibility

is one that needs further interrogation as I can assert that many within the

current administration can be said to have partnered with Mbeki in committing

the said crime.

Whelan asks in his article, “What about our supposed

representatives, the members of parliament who never questioned or spoke out;

members of the ‘opposition’ ANC now in power; members of ANC branches, come to

that, all now ready to remember it was only one man who made us all go terribly


The general secretary of the YCL and his supporters, including the

media as this manifested itself on Debora Patta’s disguised attack on the former

president, have certainly done little to present a formidable case and show

little or no understanding of the core issues to be addressed in this ‘debate’.

Even more interesting is that the ‘real’ opposition, while

acknowledging that Mbeki and his government had failed us on the issue, seem

decidedly intent on managing the business of today and the failings thereof.

Mbeki was never alone in listening to the leading experts on

retrovirals such as Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry, Karry Mullis and Paul

Duersberg. What is obvious though is that those around him and with him in

government failed us dismally through their nods.

We need to be careful as citizens of this country not to be

influenced by this urge to score political points when there is really very

little in it for us. We need to learn as Whelan suggests that we need to begin

to think for ourselves.

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