ANC leaders still wrestling with their ‘inner native’

2014-07-10 00:00

DEBATES in Parliament are rarely civilised and often reduce South Africa to the lowest common denominator. Heckling and comments are rarely as witty as they were when Helen Suzman injected some intelligence into debates. When my son-in-law was Tony Leon’s speech writer, I remember him visiting me quite disgusted with the utterances made by Chief Whip Mbulelo Goniwe, when Leon questioned the ANC about its promises to provide housing, fight crime, and so on.

Exclaiming that the DA had no place in Parliament, he fulminated, as only he could: “One thing that you forget is that you are here because of the magnanimity of the ANC. If we had chosen the path of the Nuremberg trials, all of you would be languishing in jail for the crime of apartheid that you committed.”

Goniwe seriously hurled this abuse at the DA members in the National Assembly, causing Leon and some MPs to walk out of the debate.

So when Minister Lindiwe Sisulu plumbed the depths of gutter pronouncements about Mmusi Maimane’s ascent to the seat of Parliament, she truly disgraced the iconic Sisulu name, and sank to the lowest a politician can go. Even Julius Malema sounds more intelligent. Referring to him (Maimane) as Helen Zille’s (“the Madam”) “hired native” and as a “black commodity”, she reflected something quite disturbing and deeply embedded in the collective psyche of the ANC — the inability of some senior members of the ANC to deal with their “inner native”.

They remain captive to the colonial master-servant paradigm, incapable of freeing themselves from the shackles of racial indoctrination, and unable to imbibe the notion of freedom of association. Trying to make good on Sisulu’s deeply offensive remarks, Stone Sizani went one further by calling Maimane the DA’s “pin-up boy”.

The personae and bodies of Lindiwe Mazibuko and Maimane have and will become the political battleground for the ANC to wage its warfare with the DA. And by the way, if ever there is a “madam”, it is Sisulu, with her designer outfits and entourage in tow, which carries her bags wherever she goes.

If Zille is not a tea girl, or the lesbian, then she must be a “madam”, or be portrayed in some or other guise that fits in with this ANC precolonial mentality. By insulting black and white people who support the liberal tradition, the ANC resorts to the only insults and tactics it knows — that of divide and rule, which it has learnt from its apartheid masters.

But most South Africans have moved beyond this and now feel free to join any party of their choice — we are now free to release ourselves from the straightjacket of conformism, and we are free now even to destroy ourselves.

And with its dominant discourse of racial superiority, the ANC is well on its way to destroying the country.

There is no party that has mobilised its constituents around race and ethnicity as successfully as the ANC, using proxies such as Jimmy Manyi and others to embellish divisive policies of race and ethnicity.

This is a dangerous tactic, as we have seen with the outbursts of xenophobic violence.

But it also reflects a lack of capacity to argue the case, to deal with facts, and to accept people for who and what they are.

The propaganda during elections in the townships, that the DA will bring apartheid back, has gained currency in the townships. It is a myth that the DA has to fight at every level.

Luckily, the people of the Western Cape are able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

• Rhoda Kadalie is the founder of the Gender Equity Unit. She is also an executive director of Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust.

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