The most obvious and in-your-face example of the staggering levels of hypocrisy we are served up by these plaster saints daily centres around newly-appointed Agricultural minister Senzeni Zokwana, former worker’s champion, outspoken critic of unfair wages, SACP senior member and head of NUM, paying his cattle herder a paltry and exploitative R800 per month.
I am not sure which is worse – a man who has made a career out of pointing fingers at exploitative bosses turning out to be one himself, or the ham-fisted and embarrassing justification for his behaviour spouted forth by the clearly ethically-challenged communist Blade Nzimande.
You see, explains comrade Blade, it is ok for comrade Zokwana to only pay this cattle herder R800 a month, because until very recently he himself was a poor mine worker, and that is why he flouted labour laws and paid R26 a day instead of the prescribed R111.69. Thanks Blade, that makes it all ok … ummm … not.
The problem is, cde Zokwana has not been an actual mineworker since 2000, and as head of NUM was reported to earn a salary of around R1m per year, paid for by the mining houses. Add to this the fact that he can afford to own cattle and land, and the justification put forward by cde Blade has about as much weight as Lindiwe Mazibuko leaving the DA simply to further her education. This is a shameful case of hypocrisy and double-standards, nothing more and nothing less. In any case, even if cde Zokwana was surviving on a modest salary himself, he does not have carte blanche to ignore the very labour laws he expects other bosses to abide by.
Of course, cde Zokwana is not alone in saying one thing and doing quite the opposite. In fact, when compared with the King of Left Wing (or should that be the King of Ka-Ching?) his double standards fade into obscurity. I am of course referring to none other than the charming and multi-tongued cde Julius Malema. His latest salvo at elitist privilege and the ruling class involves compelling public representatives, of which he is now one, to use only public institutions such as schools and hospitals for themselves and their families. He explains that this will be an effective way of improving the quality of such institutions – “We want schools and hospitals to be upgraded… They will never be of (good) quality if MPs are not using them,” he explains.
All well and good, until he was asked if he would lead by example and take his own son out of his very prestigious private school and put him in a public school. “Why must I subject my child to poor education when people who are in power don’t do it?” he asked. “Why must I be the first one to commit suicide?” Oh, ok then. How about giving up your expensive medical aid and using a public hospital to show that you are not just a political opportunist who expects others to make sacrifices but not yourself? “I will never give away my medical aid until they (government ministers) go to those hospitals,” Malema said. Wow.
While we are at it, another cadre who deserves an honourable mention on the list of leftist hypocrisy is our very own ‘Gucci Socialist’, cde Tony Yengeni. This champion of the masses and former outspoken militant leader not only cruises around in a Maserati and wears Armani suits, but also has a penchant for fine liquor – unfortunately, usually before he gets in his car to go for a drive.
In the interests of balance and to neuter the inevitable cries of racism that will follow this article, let’s be clear that history is littered with coloured and pale versions of leftist hypocrisy, starting with Stalin and meandering through a litany of faux-socialists, teamsters, shop stewards, politicians and religious leaders, including the likes of Jimmy Swaggart and disgraced former poor people’s advocate turned common thief Rev Allan Boesak. The common denominator across all of these folks, irrespective of colour, creed, status or platform, is that mantra – Do as I say, not as I do.
Fundamentally, I have a huge problem with that, and it shocks me that more people don’t, especially those that really have every right to take umbrage at such hypocrisy. Having grown up in a modest but certainly not impoverished home, I find it hard to put myself in the shoes of a starving, striking mine worker hanging on to and cheering every word uttered by a plump, well-fed union leader wearing R1 500 shoes and driving around in a car that costs more than he will earn in a decade. It is all so Animal Farm. Similarly, how does one take seriously the ethics of a man who rose to prominence by demonising white monopoly capital and extravagance, while simultaneously owning multiple luxurious properties, greedily influencing tenders, wearing a R250,000 watch and racking up a tax bill of R16m? The mind boggles.
Clearly, there is more to this state of affairs than meets the eye. Black colleagues I speak to, who are infinitely better positioned than I am to pass judgement on such matters, hint at an unspoken cultural code that respects and condones the financial success of those who have grown up rough, irrespective of how it is achieved. It is kind of like “In spite of decades of apartheid and the fact that whites still control so much of our economy, we have made it to the top so f*&k you.” Ok fair enough, I would probably feel the same if the situation was reversed. It is this attitude that sees people like Boesak and Malema and Shauwn Mpisane get cheered when appearing in court, when in reality they should be getting booed and vilified as the fraudsters, liars and criminals that they are.
One day our society will hopefully have matured to the point where it will take more than fiery faux-communist rhetoric, race cards and finger-pointing to cement one’s position in the pecking order – it will take genuine moral fortitude, ethics and a commitment to practicing what you preach. In the words of rock band Hoobastank, “Don't tell me you'll make things better for us. Don't tell me that you're someone I can trust. It doesn't mean a thing to me just because, it isn't what you say, it's what you do…Your actions will speak louder than you!”
*Anton Ressel is a senior consultant at Fetola and has over 15 years experience as an entrepreneur, trainer, business developer and mentor in the emerging business sector. Views expressed are his own.