SA will one day be run by rogues
ON APRIL 13, Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotyu lectured a gathering of North Koreans about the "fundamental and historic similarities" between South Africa and North Korea.
Firstly, North Koreans were celebrating the centenary of the birth of the "Great Leader President" Kim II Sung. The ANC was celebrating its centenary.
Secondly, the "Great Leader President" was the father of the Korean nation. So was South Africa's Nelson Mandela.
Significantly, Sotyu was speaking on behalf of President Jacob Zuma. Given the tacit approval that Sotyu's speech received from Luthuli House and Pretoria, one can only conclude that hers was a masterpiece worthy of a special place in the prestigious collection of great speeches since 1994.
Well, only if she didn't embarrass Mandela, her party and the country. For starters, Mandela did not need to be described in all sorts of tautological titles like "Great Leader President". Only those who aren't great would impose their alleged "greatness" by decreeing such titles through draconian laws.
Mandela was democratically elected. South Africa is a constitutional democracy. North Korea is a dictatorship. There are no political freedoms to speak about.
Sotyu's speech was part of a campaign by some in the ANC to destroy the history of their own organisation.
Some, like Sotyu, do so in diplomatic circles.
Some, like the rogues who attempted to disrupt Zuma's centenary lecture on Mandela in Limpopo, do so through violent means.
The attempts to disrupt the lecture last week was an indication of how fast political civilisation can be rolled back.
The significance of the event didn't matter to the rogues. They didn't care about the Mandela that they and everyone else claim to love. They could not care less about what he actually represents. All they wanted was to embarrass Zuma for narrow political reasons that have nothing to do with Mandela.
The method and the consequences of their protest didn't matter. The end justified the means. The execution of the law of the jungle in its raw form was uppermost in their minds.
They found no contradiction in the fact that Julius Malema - on whose behalf the barbarism was allegedly being articulated - had claimed to be following in the footsteps of Mandela.
They were ignorant about the fact that the ANC Youth League from which Malema was expelled - and which helped him to gain fame and Breitling watches - was formed by Mandela and his comrades back in the early 1940s.
To a certain extent the hooligans won. They ensured that all that the public would remember about the Mandela lecture, part of the ANC centenary celebrations, was mayhem.
To add sweetener to their coffee, someone died as a result of the chaos that ensued when Zuma delivered the lecture.
The rogues also managed to reveal the blurring of the lines between progress and backwardness. They have shown how easy it is to move from the former to the latter in few minutes. (It also took Sotyu a few sentences to take us to the Stone Age).
Yet, the man in whose honour the lecture was organised had shown how difficult it was to lead the apartheid authorities towards political civilisation. Now, the lecture had to be held in fear under tight security.
Didn't Mandela fight for freedom so that all South Africans could assemble and express themselves as they so wished within the confines of the democratically enacted law?
(This question does not even arise in relation to the "Great Leader President").
Among the many things that Mandela and his comrades fought for was freedom of expression and political association. These are enshrined in the constitution of the Republic.
The rogue behaviour didn't start in Limpopo.
When Zuma presented a lecture in honour of former president of the ANC, Sefako Mapogo Makgatho, in February he was disrupted by people linked to a pro-Malema campaign.
They heckled him to express their displeasure at the disciplinary processes that were unfolding against Malema.
As a ruling party and as an organisation with a long history of fighting for freedom and justice, the ANC's history is intrinsically linked to the history of South Africa. The country's history is incomplete without the history of the ANC.
Given the influence the ANC has or aspires to have on society, the ascendance of rogues within the party necessarily means that if we are not careful the country will one day be run by rogues.
(Especially because some ANC leaders like Sotyu cannot distinguish between a dictatorship and a democracy).
It would be difficult to disagree with those who might retort that the rogues are already in charge.
Zuma is not blameless when it comes to tolerating the wild political culture that is taking root in the party. He is the beneficiary of what is unfolding before his eyes.
A few years ago, T-shirts bearing former president Thabo Mbeki's image were burnt in an inexplicable rage. Few in the ruling party condemned the act. And they did so reluctantly.
The desecration of the ruling party's symbols and what its leaders stood for extends beyond the ANC.
Early this year some Pan African Congress hooligans decided to set the South African flag on fire.
This was done on Human Rights Day, nogal!