Criticism and credibility

2009-04-13 00:00

Reading through Professor Colin Gardner’s article in The Witness, March 26, titled “Dissenting supporters” was difficult to contend with, knowing the calibre of person he is. I did not understand what motivated him to make the comments he did, to the extent of risking his hard-earned credibility and integrity on a matter that he is expected to understand better as a loyal member of the ANC.

As much as this could be viewed as a matter that has been exhausted and extensively debated following opinions and views expressed by Smanga Sethene and Dr Zweli Mkhize in response to the article, I still feel that there is more to be said.

I ask, at what point does one demonise and discredit one’s political party while still remaining a member of that party?

Gardner’s views are somewhat mind-boggling while at the same time they give us the opportunity to scrutinise the reasons for such repellent views. To do justice in this matter and in the interest of fairness and objectivity, he has to be given the benefit of the doubt by observing that he has a right to his opinion which, however, cannot go unchallenged.

Without getting into too much detail about the confusion it has caused me, I want to believe that every human being makes mistakes and that Gardner is no exception. This puts me in the challenging position of correcting and guiding my mentor and my role model while at the same time it also gives me the opportunity to assess my own level of political maturity in relation to that of my elder.

The disgruntlement he has expressed is similar to that expressed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the Sunday Times of March 2. One thing the two gentlemen have in common is that both are elders and respected academics who have a long history of association with the ANC. What appears to be evident in both of them is that they could be suffering from Skotoma, a mental condition that causes paradigm paralysis (a blurry vision of the mind which conditions the mind to think in a particular way so as to maintain a particular status quo) and very synonymous with resistance to change. The issue of Jacob Zuma is a change issue which does not go down well among the likes of Gardner and the Archbishop. What my elders need to come to terms with is that they should be sensitive to the aspirations of the majority within the ANC and learn not to shoot from the hip, as that could open an opportunity for vultures to prey on the party.

The hostility against Zuma is quite disturbing and alarming as it is being unleashed at unprecedented levels, and what is even more disturbing is the indiscipline demonstrated by the likes of Gardner and the Archbishop who by virtue of the respect they command within the ANC can cause irreparable damage before any suspicions are raised against their misperception about Zuma and the ANC.

It would not be incorrect to believe that allegations against Zuma have been manufactured, drummed up and carefully calculated to prevent him from being the president of South Africa.

I shudder to think that such democracy is being abused through blatant employment of dirty tactics worse than those of the apartheid era.

My advice to all, including my elders, is that our choice of who should lead us will come from the people and should such wishes and aspirations be stifled through dubious means by those who have a personal dislike of the choice of the majority, I am afraid such people are treading on very slippery ground. The will of the majority must be respected. As to how other political parties feel about Zuma, this is a non-issue, because it is common knowledge that they will stop at nothing to find fault with him.

The ANC is a party that thrives on robust debates and whatever the magnitude of the challenge, solutions will always be found within the party. As such, disgruntlement such as that shown by Gardner has its solutions within the ANC and not from among its opponents whom the professor’s comments are meant to attract.

• Max Moyo is the Managing Director of Mindset Re-engineering Solutions and a member of the ANC.

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