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Archive for the tag “Robert Mugabe”

Politics is getting interesting again, thanks to two fascist clowns

Easter week of 2010 will be remembered as the week when politics in South Africa became interesting again, thanks to two political clowns and the media.

On the left, Eugene Terre’blanche (known as ET), former leader of the AWB (Afrikanner Resistance Movement), and on the right, Julius Malema, leader of the ANC Youth League.

ET made headlines by the manner of his death, and the rumours that circulated around it, and his political buffoonery lay in the past, though his funeral was a circus, if media accounts are to be believed, and some of his supporters appear to believe that Julius Malema’s racist rhetoric at least contributed to his death, if it was not directly responsible for it.

But, as the front page of City Press shows, they were actually birds of a feather, both dedicated to overblown fascist and racist rhetoric. But a nation divided? I doubt it. Both these demagogues appealed to small but vocal minorities, and they have been boosted by much media attention.

For ten years or more, politics has been excessively boring. Endless stories of graft and corruption, and fat cats jockeying for position. In the apartheid days we were largely protected from such stories because the press was kept on a tight leash by the National Party regime. The best one could say about the corruption stories was that they showed we now have a free press.

But the antics of ET and Malema and their supporters provide entertainment, and the media are determined to give it to us. Not all of the jounalism is responsible, though. One can expect sensationalism from tabloids like The Sun, but even “responsible” papers like the Sunday Independent could not resist a sensation-mongerring headline like

Was ET gay and bonking darkies?

based on the rumour that a used condom had been found in the room where ET was murdered. The police had categorically denied that a condom had been found, but the Sunday Independent was not about to let the facts get in the way of a good story. They did include the police denial — in small print, right at the bottom. So the antics of the media are almost as entertaining as those of the protagonists.

But it also reaches the point where it goes beyond a joke.

The last straw was when Julius Malema kicked a BBC journalist, Jason Fisher, out of a press conference, claiming he had been insulted.

Malema apparently castigated the Movement for Democratic Change, the Zimbabwean opposition group, for speaking from their air-conditioned offices in Sandton. And Fisher pointed out that Malema himself lived in Sandton, and Malema blew his top.

Any politician in a democratic society with a sense of proportion would probably have grinned, said “Touché!” or something similar, and moved on.

The fact that Malema perceived that as an insult and lost his cool over it and kicked the journalist out speaks volumes. It doesn’t matter what Malema said. The words he used are not important. It his actions that show that he is a fascist, with no sense of democracy, and no sense of proportion.

As another journalist in City Press, Xolela Mangcu, put it, “Il Duce step aside: a fascist fire rages in Malema.”

If Malema had any political nous at all he would see that as an insult, and an insult far worse than saying that he lived in Sandton.

As Mangcu says of this incident

Perhaps a little world history could be helpful in opening our eyes to what Malema’s reaction could mean for our young democracy and people.

The historical figure I have in mind is Italy’s fascist leader, Benito Mussolini. On the eve of Mussolini’s reign as prime minister a critic asked him about his party’s political programme. Mussolini mocked the critic thus: “The democrats of Il Mondo want to know our programme? It is to break the bones of the democrats of Il Mondo, and the sooner the better.”

Mussolini concluded his tirade thus: “The fist is the synthesis of our theory.”

And that statement is a pretty good summary of the political programme and philosophy of ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe, which Malema has just visited, and spoken admiringly of ZANU-PF.

This, is of course, an embarrassment to the leadership of the ANC, which is trying to portray itself as a neutral honest broker between ZANU-PF and the MDC, an image which Malema’s blatant partisanship has shattered. His outburst to the BBC journalist has shown his true colours. It bodes ill for our democracy if his political career goes any further. Xolela Mangcu is hopeful that it won’t

Could Malema be the face of the replacement of politics with violence? I doubt it. Malema will ultimately trip on his own words. Besides, South Africa is too complex and differentiated to fall under the rule of one Il Duce.

I hope he’s right.

But if anyone is getting cold feet about coming to South Africa for the World Cup for fear of a bloodbath, don’t worry about it. Julius Malema is unlikely to become president this year, or next year, or any time for the next nine years. And a lot can happen in nine years. South Africa has plenty of precedents of politicians who appeared to have a meteoric rise, and had a sputtering fall. Tielman Roos, for example. Anyone remember him? With any luck, Julius Malema will go the same way.

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Mugabe, Malema and the future of South Africa

The death of Eugene Terre’blanche stole the news over the weekend and drew public attention away from something far more ominous for the future of South Africa — Julius Malema’s visit to Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, Malema on Terreblanche:

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema have discussed the murder of South African white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche during talks in Harare.

Mugabe met Malema — who was concluding a four-day visit to the country as a guest of Zanu PF — at State House for over two hours on Monday.

With reporters present, Mugabe spoke to Malema at length about Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and what he said was Britain’s failure to honour its obligations to white farmers whose properties were seized for resettlement.

Mugabe also praised South Africa as an unstinting ally against what he said was a global crusade by “imperialists” to remove his government through economic sabotage and propaganda.

Former President Thabo Mbeki was frequently criticised for taking a low profile on Zimbabwe, and refraining from public criticism of the fascist Mugabe regime.

Julius Malema has shown no such restraint, and has shown his true colours by praising the Mugabe regime. And this is a clear indication of one scenario for South Africa’s future: Julius Malema becomes president (possibly succeeding Jacob Zuma), and then it’s goodbye to our hard-won democracy. Perhaps in another 15 years time there will be South African refugees sleeping in the Methodist Church in Harare.

Look at what has happened.

Malema is welcomed in Zimbabwe, and praises the leadership of the Zanu-PF and Robert Mugabe. In South Africa he has attacked the trade unions and Cosatu, and just a few years ago, far from meeting Mugabe, a Cosatu delegation was turned away at the Zimbabwe border.

The white, Western and capitalist press has concentrated its criticism of the Mugabe regime on its “land reform” policies, which has entailed the seizure of land from white farmers, and its redistribution among relatives and supporters of high-ups in Zanu-PF.

But long before that, Mugabe attacked the trade unions, which was of less interest to the white, Western and capitalist press.

To understand this one must go back to the 1990s, when Mugabe sent Zimbabwean troops to intervene in civil wars in the Congo. In these foreign military adventures he resembles Tony Blair and George Bush, whom he professes to dislike. In reality, they are birds of a feather.

Foreign military adventures are expensive, and depleted Zimbabwe’s foreign currency reserves. This in turn led to fuel shortages, which in turn led to an economic recession, particularly in the towns. Businesses were closed, workers were laid off, and the Zimbabwean trade unions were up in arms. Opposition to Mugabe’s policies grew, and in a referendum some constitutional amendments that would, among other things, have made Mugabe president for life, were rejected by the electorate.

This was a wake-up call for Mugabe. If he could lose a referendum, he could also lose an election.

But instead of reversing the unpopular economic policies that had caused the problem, he exacerbated it by instituting his land redistribution scheme as an electoral ploy to buy the rural vote. If Mugabe were sincere about land reform, he had had 20 years to do something about it, and had done nothing. It was only the threat of losing an election that made him bring it in hastily, for the purpose of buying votes. And in the way it was implemented exacerbated the economic problems as Zimbabwe’s agricultural productivity plummeted. The foreign exchange problems worsened as tobacco, the main export crop, virtually disappeared. In a couple of years Zimbabwe went from being the bread basket of central Africa to basket case, as hyperinflation took hold.

The opposition grew stronger and reorganised, and coalesced around the trade unions, to form the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). And they have a natural affinity for Cosatu in South Africa, which is why the Cosatu delegation was turned away at the Zimbabwe border.

But who is Malema talking to?

News – Politics: Malema upsets MDC:

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has upset the Zimbabwean political party, the Movement for Democratic Change, by meeting only Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF on a visit to Harare.

‘Is Mr Malema saying that the ANC does not respect democracy and is willing to ignore the millions of Zimbabweans who sent Zanu-PF packing in the corridors of power?’ asked Austin Moyo, chairman of the MDC in South Africa, at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday.

‘Does Malema understand that there are millions of liberation heroes in the MDC?’

Moyo said Malema made it clear that he would be visiting the Zanu-PF because it was ‘a revolutionary party’.

At the moment Cosatu is still allied to the ANC in the tripartite alliance, but if Malema should ever become president Cosatu will have the choice — become a lapdog, or follow the Zimbabwe trade unions into the political wilderness, and form an equivalent of the MDC.

allAfrica.com: South Africa: Vavi to Tackle ANC Over Malema’s ‘Disdain’:

CONGRESS of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday said the bilateral meeting with the African National Congress (ANC) next week would be an opportunity to deal with how the ANC’s actions had threatened Cosatu’s functionality within the tripartite alliance.

ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema’s public mudslinging against Cosatu, the ANC’s unilateral decision banning municipal workers from taking up leadership positions in political parties, and a ‘general lack of commitment by the ANC to make the federation one of its political centres’, had left the alliance in a crisis, Vavi said at the National Union of Metalworkers’ National Bargaining Conference yesterday.

‘The oppression and super- exploitation of workers remains widespread – despite government and union efforts.

What South Africa lacks, and probably needs, is a strong and coherent left opposition, preferably before a fascist takeover. Is Zwelinzima Vavi up to it? The tragedy of the assassination of Chris Hani continues to haunt us.

And perhaps Thabo Mbeki kept quiet because he saw how easily what was happening in Zimbabwe could happen in South Africa, and lead to the break-up of the tripartite alliance. He preferred the Ronald Reagan approach of “constructive engagement”.

Telling it like it is – why xenophobia

A lot of the blame for the growing xenophobia among ordinary South Africans must be laid at the door of the government, says Justice Malala.

The Times – A simple recipe for xenophobia:

A cocktail of factors, mixed by the ANC over the past 10 years, is responsible for the barbarism.

These people are behaving like barbarians because the ANC has failed — despite numerous warnings — to act on burning issues that are well known for having sparked similar eruptions across the globe.

This cocktail is made up of stubborn denialism on Zimbabwe, an increasingly incompetent and corrupt police service, poor service delivery and corruption in government departments.

The crime-does-pay culture fostered by the ANC — criminals such as the Travelgate fraudsters walk away scot-free — is a central ingredient of the cocktail.

But the bulk of the cocktail comprises the failed state that is Zimbabwe. The country’s economy has collapsed. Its political leaders, security services and agents are looting the treasury. Zimbabweans are fleeing.

Malala tells it like it is, and there is no point in repeating what he says, far better than I could.

But a few points could be added. The police and immigration officials have harassed foreigners, even those who have valid residence permits, and tried to extort bribes from them, because of the culture of impunity. The move to incorporate the Scorpions into the police is part of this culture of impunity. But this attitude of the police encourages xenophobia. When South African passengers in taxis see foreigners being singled out for bullying, it sets an example that people follow.

South African observers of earlier Zimbabwean elections have said they were not free and fair, but they were told to say that they were free and fair, so they did.

I get the impression that Thabo Mbeki has shrunk over the years. When he first became deputy president, I regarded him as one of those who had fought for our freedom, but he has become more and more gnome-like. Back in 1991, at the time of the break-up of the Soviet Union, there was a communist-backed coup attempt. Gorbachev was on holiday at the Black Sea and was held incommunicado for several days, while Yeltsin in Moscow faced down the coup leaders. A few days later a cartoon appeared in some newspapers showing Yeltsin driving a car, with Gorbachev strapped into a child seat on the passenger side. Now one gets the impression that Mugabe is driving the car, and Mbeki is strapped in the child seat.

The government does not want to acknowledge that there are enormous numbers of refugees from Zimbabwe at present in South Africa, because to do so would be to acknowledge that there is a problem in Zimbabwe. And, sad to say, Zimbabweans are often better educated and harder-working than South Africans. Nearly 15 years after the end of apartheid, the government has failed to repair the damage done to the education system by Christian National Education. A whole generation of school children have gone through school without seeing very much improvement. By now, the school system in Zimbabwe has probably collapsed, but the average Zimbabwean aged between 25 and 35 is probably far better educated than their South African counterparts, and so find it easier to get jobs.

No one in their right mind expects Thabo Mbeki to behave like George Bush and to invade Zimbabwe to bring about regime change, but he could at least say something in favour of justice, freedom and democracy. We’ve heard his excuses for his impotence for the last eight or nine years now, and he’s still strapped in the child seat and can’t reach the steering wheel and the pedals, and his toy steering wheel fools no one but him.

The sermons of cowards

The powerful nations of the West are fond of preaching sanctimonious sermons about freedom and democracy to tin-pot dictators like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, but are too chicken to speak the truth to power when it come to the evils in their own back yards.

Kishore Mahbubani: The sermons of cowards | Comment is free | The Guardian: “Ten years ago, if anyone had suggested the US would reintroduce torture, the answer would have been ‘impossible!’ Yet the impossible has happened. Amnesty International has described Guant�namo as ‘the gulag of our times’. Despite their history of condemning human rights violations, no western nation has condemned the US government for Guant�namo. Miliband’s speech rightly applauded several brave Burmese people for standing up to the military government. They spoke truth to power, and at great personal risk. Sadly, even though he faced no personal risks, Miliband could not muster the courage to speak truth to power regarding Guant�namo.”

Zimbabwe elections

Last week official or semi-official spokesmen for the Zimbabwe electoral commission criticised those who imputed sinister motives for the delay in releasing the election results. There were no sinister motives, he said, and the delay was due to the thoroughness in counting. According to the constitution they had six days in which to accomplish the counting and release the results, so everyone should be patient and give the electroal commission the time needed to complete the task.

But the allotted six days have now passed, and still the results have not been released.

Can we start imputing sinister motives now?

It’s beginning to look as bad as the US Presidential election of 2000.

And still the media are jumping the gun, and speculating about “run-off” elections. One cannot begin to talk about “run-off” elections until the results are known.

But it begins to look more and more like Algeria a few years ago, or Lesotho in 1970, when the “wrong” party was seen to be losing the election, and the previously ruling party cancelled the election staged a coup to remain in power.

Zimbabwe elections: is media optimism justified?

For the last couple of days we’ve seen headlines announcing that Mugabe’s repressive regime has fallen, and that the MDC has won the elections in Zimbabwe. Only when one reads the small print does one discover that this is based on guessing, wishful thinking and speculation.

Reports from observers on the spot, however, indicate that this election was no more free and fair than the last one and the one before that.

sa news YCL members back from Zim

Three members of the Young Communist League’s Zimbabwean election observer team have returned early because of constant surveillance amounting to intimidation by Central Intelligence Officers (CIO).

In a statement on Monday, the league said three members returned early and one member — based in Bulawayo — had been interrogated by the CIO.

‘This shows the level of intimidation that is still prevalent in Zimbabwe,’ it said.

Four years ago, on 1 March 2004, the South African Council of Churches held a meeting at Kempton Park where the situation in Zimbabwe was discussed. Several of those present had been election monitors at the previous election, and said openly that they needed to repent because they had been pressured into signing statements that the elections were free and fair when it was quite evident to them that they were not.

It seems that this election has been no more free and fair than the previous ones.

It might be better if the media did not count the chickens before they hatch.

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