(Un)Real Pastor Maimane

2015-05-16 17:14

On the 20 February 2014, Mmusi Maimane firming up his politics as he ran for Gauteng Premiership he declared his politics as belonging to; Individualism, in a prepared policy speech he said; “I am proud to say that I am an individual. I am also proud to say that I am an African. Being an African is part of who I am; it is part of who I choose to be. You can believe in individualism and still have respect for culture and tradition, as long as culture and tradition are never abused to take away the individual rights of others.”

The term individualism was first coined in the nineteenth century.

In Europe individualism became associated with the aspirations of Romanticism and laissez-faire economics, and in America with the core political and social values of democracy and capitalism.

The unavoidable results of individualism are exhibited in egoism, the suppression of all virtues, and the concession of political expansions to the "tyranny of the majority" in the form of slavery, colonialism, personal greed and apartheid.

The very nature of inequality wherein twenty men own twenty five percent of the world’s economy individually is borne of individualism.

The DA’s new Values Charter attempts to undo the ANC’s People’s Freedom Charter by shifting the collective people rights to individual rights. Whereas the ANC emphasizes communal people, the DA’s new policy orientation is on individual rights.

The Bantu culture of Ubuntu is premised on the communal structure as a base and the DA’s Individualism, which is highly pronounced in the DA’s Values Charter draws a clear line, saying an individual, is before a community is.

The Bantu believe that communal equality constituted the necessary prerequisite for the flourishing of free individuals. This is also located in the People’s Freedom Charter. A sense of community. The adage, “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” – ‘a person is because of people’, is diametrically opposed to individualism ethos, politics and general social philosophies.

Communal philosophy contains the potential to dampen or discourage many expressions of individualism that stand at odds with mass freedoms or beliefs. Individualism on the other hand insists on person’s rights no matter the damage to the greater good. This could be anything from commerce, knowledge or other. Individualism stands on the side of liberty, not equality. Many western societies as Maimane does, support individualism.

Thought forbearers of the DA and Maimane, like libertarians such as Friedrich von Hayek (1899–1992), and Atlas Shrugged author, Ayn Rand (1905–1982) proposed schemes of society that radically limited the power of the state (communal people) and advocated broad rights for individual choice in all spheres of life.

The enemies are taxes and regulations for anything; they will fight minimum wage laws, employment laws, banking laws, unions for quasi-utilitarian model of laissez-faire economics.

The ANC on the other hand as is with modern communitarians like Jacob Zuma, worry about the socially corrosive effects of individualism, as evinced by rising levels of crime, political alienation, and unrestricted consumerism.

When Maimane sees nothing wrong with his utterances that placed gays and Muslims in the category of sinners and the sick he is called by his god to befriend, a communitarian will rise to defend these groups rights against the individual Maimane on the other hand, individualism liberals will insist that it is Maimane’s right to hold these views as an individual and no one must interfere with his rights. The rights of the minorities and vulnerable groups are immediately buried in the pile of the self-preservation rights.

Individualism is premised on self. Self-rights, self needs and wants. Often the proponents of individualism see themselves as extraordinary, exceptional and called into the positions they hold by either god or some other special self-attribute.

Maimane in one of his sermons last year, 2014, at Liberty Church where he is elderman and pastor, he tells a story of how he came to politics in 2010, he had been called to prophesy for a young boy who he felt had been called into politics (yes, Maimane prophesies as in the Bible). After church, he says; “My wife looked at me and she said to me, ‘I think that young person was you’”. So the prophesy he had for the young boy was a prophesy from God to him projected to the young boy.

In the same speech of February 2010, Maimane says many things that will confuse one to think he is not truly in the individualism trait, one of these is when he says; “I’ll be very honest today and say that the rise of racial mobilization should be a huge worry for all of us. We see it from all sides of the spectrum. On the one side, it comes from lingering material deprivation, a sense that the majority of South Africans continue to suffer in the new South Africa.”

Here and there, although prone to mix up ideologies and beliefs, Maimane still has an element of Ubuntu left in him. That which each black family universally taught is still lingering in small doses. Someone must get hold of it before it blows off completely, taken by selfish me-me-me politics he is espousing.

The question is, does Maimane really know why the majority as a group (not individuals) continue to suffer?

On the other hand, Maimane is only four years into politics, he is still of milk drinking, for that he must be allowed space to find himself and understand what politics is.

Someone ought to burn his Rand material and get him a copy of Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century as a start.

As the DA enters the politics of charterist with its Values Charter, black leader who identifies as black, a black caucus within, perhaps its about time we call this party, 'New DA'.

Bo Mbindwane

twitter: @mbindwane

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