What colour is our flag?

2016-09-25 06:07
Mondli Makhanya

Mondli Makhanya

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Back in 2005, when the Jacob Zuma juggernaut got going in earnest, SA Communist Party (SACP) activist Mazibuko Jara penned a paper that questioned the organisation’s slavish loyalty to the ANC’s then deputy president.

The paper was titled, What colour is our flag? Red or JZ? – a critique of the SACP’s approach on the Zuma matter. It was a radical departure from the official party position, which was basically to get Zuma elected as president of the ANC in 2007 and of the country at all costs.

Some ideological arguments were constructed to justify the support, when in fact the main reason was that Zuma was Thabo Mbeki’s foe, the SACP’s bête noire.

Jara decried the commitment of party resources to a cause that had very little to do with the advancement of socialist goals.

“Massive resources and energy are spent by an insufficiently strong party in the mass campaign in support of JZ whenever he appears in court ... and through fundraising for the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust,” he wrote.

He continued that this had “the effect of displacing other more principled and strategic programmes and struggles”.

“This may sound obvious, but a Communist Party caught in the internecine strife over JZ is not a Communist Party that will effectively mobilise the mass of the workers and the poor to challenge and defeat capitalism in South Africa,” wrote Jara.

He also pointed to the contradiction of the SACP aligning itself to a campaign championed by people such as the late businessman Don Mkhwanazi – then chair and founder of Zuma’s trust – as well as with shady types.

“There is something wrong when the left in the alliance finds itself uncritically on the same side as emerging capitalist Don Mkhwanazi, corrupt businessman Schabir Shaik, and an ANC Youth League suckled on the largesse of the late Brett Kebble.

What can possibly unite us with these elements? Some of these elements are also known for pushing the line that fighting corruption requires a political process: a euphemism for diffusing and deflecting a principled struggle against corruption, which is far from what a communist approach should be.”

On the demand that the National Prosecuting Authority drop charges against Zuma because they were supposedly politically inspired, Jara argued that he “must face a court of law (as different from a court of justice) in which he must have a fair trial irrespective of who he is”.

He also warned about the dangers of undermining the rule of law in the interest of one man.

“We have to ask the question of who loses most when there is no rule of law under capitalism: look at a Congo without the rule of law, look at who suffers most in countries without even a parliament.”

He went on: “After all, the creation of a democratic and constitutional dispensation in South Africa has made political stability possible where apartheid and other atrocities can be brought to book. It is under the rule of law in South Africa that poor people can take their own government to court to assert their right to housing or point to its failures.”

Jara also asked why a progressive, leftist party was throwing its weight behind someone with publicly pronounced conservative views.

“As a public figure, JZ has taken what can be described as controversial and conservative standpoints on gender equality (polygamy, virginity testing and sexuality), economic policy, ethnicity and pandering to the interests of the traditional and undemocratic elite in rural areas,” he charged.

I have cheated by quoting chunks of Jara’s paper because it sounded a poignant warning about the man the SACP was backing.

After this paper went public, Jara was hounded out of the SACP and driven into political obscurity.

The SACP continued its pro-Zuma campaign and was one of the key forces that got him into the big office at Luthuli House and the even bigger office in Pretoria.

Once in the Union Buildings, “the man of the people” became none of the things that the communists and other backers hoped he would be. He sold his soul even more enthusiastically than he had done in the past.

He found himself more dodgy friends and made sure that these mates and his large family feasted on the wealth of the nation. He misgoverned the country to the benefit of those around him.

He continued to be the medieval chauvinist that he had always been.

More damningly for those who had backed him, he presided over the crumbling of the ANC, encouraged the disintegration of Cosatu and actively marginalised those on the left who had been on his side, but were unwilling to dance to his corrupt tune.

Today, the SACP is one of Zuma’s prime enemies. He cannot stand the sight of anything red unless it is the blood of his political foes.

The SACP has come round to Jara’s views and is a vocal critic of Zuma, his cronies and the factionalists he has surrounded himself with.

They should have taken heed of What Colour is Our Flag?

Read more on:    sacp  |  anc  |  jacob zuma

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