Is breaking news breaking us all?

2017-10-01 06:02


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In these times when breaking news stories occur daily at breakneck speed, South Africa appears to be sinking into a frenzied, bottomless pit – with no time to reflect properly. But then, maybe we want to forget and move on.

Like many, I came to know outspoken former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza through the media. My former role was that of special adviser to one-time president and, later, deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe. As deputy, he was also the leader of government business in Parliament and interacted with various ministers, deputy ministers and chairs of portfolio committees.

But during my tenure, I never met Khoza. Judging by her performance, she has been a worthy cadre of the ANC in Parliament. Like all of us, she had her strengths and weaknesses, and in these times of endless breaking news, it is inevitable that her actions would be part of this media news category.

The ANC group of stalwarts and veterans issued a statement last Friday in response to Khoza’s exit announcement, requesting that she reconsider her decision. Well meaning as the statement is, it does not adequately deal with the reasons that led to Khoza’s resignation. While noting her principled stance, the stalwarts then say: “However, we believe that her decision, while understandable, was not the correct one.”

This has raised questions for me and I mull over their words even as breaking news stories roll out relentlessly around us.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa reacted to Khoza’s exit announcement, saying: “We have in the past discovered that she [Khoza] harbours uncontrollable ambitions of being [a] minister … [and] being appointed as a minister.”

In the same breath Kodwa added: “Unfortunately, these are the things that are very dangerous to the ANC when individuals do everything in the ANC to promote themselves. Obviously, we have discovered that her handlers wanted her to destroy the ANC from within. So, we are not surprised by her move.”

I was left flabbergasted by this breaking news. The day before Khoza’s resignation from the ANC, former president Motlanthe repeated what is common knowledge about President Jacob Zuma: that Zuma is the ANC and the ANC is Zuma, and the two are inseparable. “Each one of his [Zuma’s] mistakes and indiscretions, the ANC takes it upon itself to defend [him] as though he is the ANC,” Motlanthe said.

Zuma’s list of scandals is endless, yet the ANC has never charged him or the ministers involved in these misdeeds, which include bringing the organisation into disrepute. Instead, after the Constitutional Court judgment on Nkandla, which ruled that Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution, the top six persuaded all the ANC’s structures to accept Zuma’s so-called apology.

Then came the party’s mantra of taking “collective responsibility” after losing the Tshwane, Gauteng and Nelson Mandela Bay municipalities in the August 2016 municipal polls.

None of our current ANC presidential hopefuls has come out in support of Khoza. When disciplinary charges were concocted, not one of them said this must be stopped. Not one offered to protect her or accompany her to the disciplinary hearing. She was made to look a fool for refusing police protection, despite Khoza offering sound reasons for doing so.

In these times of Breaking News breaking Breaking News, were we expecting Khoza to be a superhero, even as she was being floored and clearly needed support? While she appeared strong in facing her persecutors within the ANC, she was actually at her weakest and needed protection rather than the abundant praises she received from the public and the media.

I see a woman angered by circumstances beyond her control and rendered emotional as a result of incessant terror tactics from her own party. Naturally, this could only lead to fear and insecurity.

It is in this light that I found the stalwarts’ statement insensitive to Khoza, especially when it brought up honesty, admonishing: “If honest members of the ANC either leave or are silent…” Khoza was never silent, but was forced to leave.

“We believe all honest members should stay and join together with those who want to see an end to this nightmare that has engulfed our country,” they continued.

We must ask Khoza if she was ever asked to join hands with like-minded comrades – or those who did so must come out and say so.

“We also believe that those who have let their membership lapse should reinstate their membership,” the veterans said. This is commendable. But in light of the speed at which our breaking news breaks, which member of the public would want to approach an ANC branch and say: “I want to be part of this noble goal.”

The stalwarts conclude: “We cannot allow an ever-increasing vacuum to be created ... filled by those who want to use and abuse their membership ... We must re-find our collective voices that will again mobilise a country sickened by what they see.”

I agree. Maybe it is time we reflected on, and acted according to, our conscience – a move opposed by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe during the recent motion of no confidence in Zuma.

Mbatha is the author of Unmasked: Why the ANC Failed to Govern


Do you agree that, given the speed at which breaking news occurs, there is no time to reflect on issues and then act?

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Read more on:    anc  |  makhosi khoza  |  media

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