Ties that bind run too deep to fathom

Kgalema Motlanthe
Kgalema Motlanthe

A morning drive on the R21 towards Tshwane, passing the airport, can be a test of wits and gusto because of the bustling traffic.

The scorching morning sun compounds the feeling of haplessness as traffic freezes and unfreezes intermittently.

It is in such circumstances that one admires motorcycles, with their agile navigation through the traffic gridlock.

The radio offers relief and companionship by affording one a sense of escapism in these stressful circumstances.

Roving from one station to the other necessarily becomes a panacea to the traffic nightmare that Johannesburg can impose on motorists.

The morning radio shows on 702, SABC and Power FM become the usual stopovers in this lonesome sojourn.

In the middle of the morning on Wednesday, I stumbled into an interview that 702’s Eusebius McKaiser was conducting with former president Kgalema Motlanthe.

By the time I tuned in, the voice of Motlanthe could be heard, with his trademark measured words. Truth be told, I found the show midway, as it was advancing towards its crescendo.

Motlanthe was speaking about the state of the ANC and what, in his view, had gone wrong.

He bemoaned the current state of the bloated national executive committee (NEC) and impugned that this was answerable for the reduction in the relationship of cadreship to that of employee and employer between NEC members and the president.

Motlanthe went to great lengths, even against what he regarded as the accepted convention of not critiquing the current leadership.

He emptied his chest of what he regarded as the faultlines in the ANC.

He answered a few questions and referred listeners to his organisational report that he presented at the 2007 ANC Polokwane conference.

What drew my ire was not so much the interrogating style that has become McKaiser’s trademark, but his repeated insistence on extracting a particular answer from a guarded interviewee.

Moment of glory slipping through his fingers

The question asked of Motlanthe was whether, given his critique of his own organisation, he would vote for the ANC in the next election.

By all means, this was a sequential and normal question, given the build-up of the narrative that had been projected thus far.

The answer to this question rested on the interviewee given his moral judgement of facts that he had proffered.

Motlanthe rejoined that, not withstanding his criticism, he would still vote for the ANC in any election.

This answer drew McKaiser’s rabid irritation and he failed to conceal his disgust at it. His subjectivity was palpable and he came out of the woodwork as if wielding a machete menacingly at Motlanthe.

Let us for a second imagine that Motlanthe had answered in the affirmative – that would have been the biggest coup for the opposition, thanks to McKaiser’s show.

His ratings would have skyrocketed and the news clip would have been quoted by all media for days.

Follow-up interviews with Motlanthe would have been lined up for more details and more exposé, as the ANC headed for its conference. The ultimate talk show host’s dream would have come through.

Alas! The gods had other designs on that day and they were not in favour of the loquacious one.

In as much as Motlanthe is critical of the ANC and has aired some of its dirty linen in public, he denied McKaiser the laurels of pomp that would ordinarily have followed his affirmative answer.

McKaiser saw the moment of glory slipping through his fingers and broke into a fit of anger with unconcealable hurt.

With radio, one has to imagine the presenter and the mood in the studio.

I imagined an upset McKaiser seated in his rocking chair and taking turns in various positions to cajole and intimidate the interviewee.

The language could not conceal a body language oozing with irritation and annoyance.

Motlanthe could not indulge him and refused to accede to his designs, thus depriving him of the much vaunted jewel.

Evidently, McKaiser displayed what, in historical theory, is termed unavoidable subjectivity.

It does not follow that because Motlanthe is critical of the ANC he will therefore denounce it.

This assumed Aristotelian syllogism is warped, untenable and misplaced. It is informed by and emanates from a scant comprehension of the liberation movement’s history, culture, dynamics and ties that bind its members.

These ties run too deep for the comprehension of McKaiser and his ilk.

Ka Plaatjie is head of research for the ANC and adviser to Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu


Did you hear this radio interview? What is your opinion of Motlanthe’s support of his party?

SMS us on 35697 using the keyword MOTLANTHE and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Would you choose to continue working from home after the coronavirus lockdown if given the option?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's much better for me
40% - 7696 votes
No ways! I can't wait to get back to the office
12% - 2242 votes
A mixture of both would suit me best
48% - 9307 votes
Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo