Adriaan Basson

The ANC thinks you are stupid

2016-11-30 08:11

We speak to outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela

2016-10-11 18:59

News24's editor-in-chief, Adriaan Basson and head of video, Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath speak to the outgoing Public Protector. Watch.WATCH

Just in case you haven’t noticed, Gwede Mantashe thinks you are stupid.

Okay, it’s not really uncle Gwede the person who thinks you are stupid, but the secretary-general of the ANC; the poor sucker who has to communicate the once glorious liberation movement’s statements to the public on behalf of the party.

So effectively, the ANC thinks you are stupid.


Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States, is credited with the quote “if you can’t convince them, confuse them”.

Apparently Truman didn’t actually support the sentiment in the statement, but accused his opponents of using the tactic against him. Whatever Truman meant by it, his words rang remarkably true for Mantashe’s performance at Tuesday’s media conference at Luthuli House.

The national executive committee (NEC) is the 104 people who rule South Africa. They are ANC members who did enough (nudge, nudge) at the ANC’s 2012 national conference in Mangaung to be elected by delegates to the party’s highest decision-making body.

The NEC consists of a mixed bag of characters: from convicted criminals to Pravin Gordhan.

It is the NEC, “in its wisdom”, who decided not to recall President Jacob Zuma as leader of South Africa at its extended meeting over the weekend.

On Tuesday Mantashe had the unenviable task to downplay the Battle of St George’s in a fashion that can only be explained as glib, sorrowful and pathetic.

The sheep farmer from Cala in the Eastern Cape was clearly not in the mood for laughs and giggles as he rambled off the NEC’s statement to the nation.

It’s simply unbelievable that the ANC, through Mantashe, could deal with the historic attempt to remove Zuma from within, led by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, in such a nonchalant way. Call it denialism or arrogance; no attempt was made by Mantashe to deal with the Zuma motion of no confidence vote in a substantial, truthful and transparent way.

So the party opted for confusion.

But let’s not be confused or stupid. Things will never be the same for Zuma and the ANC.

There is a crack in the wall and no amount of Polyfilla can fix it up again. Until Saturday, the NEC has been Zuma’s safe space where he found refuge against the tides of Nkandlagate, Guptagate and Nenegate (pick your scandal).

No more. The NEC has cracked and they have Zuma’s number. It was unthinkable that Zuma could be recalled on this historic occasion where grown men and women rediscovered their backbones.

This was just the start. But the floodgates have opened and December 2017 must feel awfully far for the man from Nxamalala.

Between now and then lies a consultative conference as part of the ANC’s policy conference mid-2017 where there will be a larger group of comrades calling for the president’s head. A parliamentary motion of no confidence remains a possibility. Zuma has problems.

Not if you listened to Mantashe, who treated Hanekom’s motion as just another pedestrian discussion point on the NEC agenda.

“During the course of these discussions, a call was made for ANC President, Comrade Jacob Zuma, to consider stepping down as the President of the Republic of South Africa. The NEC decided that even though the issue was neither on the agenda nor in the Political Report, the debate should be allowed without any suppression,” Mantashe said, pausing for applause that didn’t come.

One would reasonably have expected Mantashe to elaborate on the debate: who said what? If you cannot name people (the NEC has strict rules, even banning cellphones from the conference room), at least tell us what the arguments were. No such thing.

Did Mantashe skip a paragraph, I wondered? Where’s the stuff about state capture and the Guptas and Eskom and Trillian Capital and Duduzane Zuma and Dubai and the Saxonwold shebeen?

But no; this was actually the ANC’s official response to the NEC’s debate about Zuma’s fitness to hold office. Mantashe spoke about racism and nationalism and monopoly capital (sounds familiar?), but nothing on WHY Hanekom et al thought the president was no longer fit to govern.

Mantashe swiftly closed the subject matter: there is a “negative narrative” directed towards Zuma; the Hanekom motion was defeated through persuasion and issues that are “hurting” the ANC and the country are being tended to by the NEC.

And that was it, before he turned to Fidel Castro. In total, Mantashe (or then: the ANC) dedicated 175 words or 11% of its entire post-NEC statement to Hanekom’s motion. How’s that for unbalanced reporting!

The ANC’s troubles have just become bigger. And no amount of spin-doctoring from Mantashe or Jessie Duarte or Zuma about the “enemy” or the media or the opposition will paper over the cracks that have opened up at the Battle of St George’s.

This is the endgame. Can you feel it? It’s here.

* Basson is editor of News24. Follow him on Twitter @adriaanbasson

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  state capture  |  anc

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