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ANC must be consistent and 'blame' Mbeki for successes

By unknown | Oct 05, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

BEING the occasional cynic that I am, I dismissed President Jacob Zuma's shocking statement onCNNthat what the rest of us and the world had called Aids policy was actually his predecessor Thabo Mbeki's "own views" and never those of the government or the party Mbeki led.

It is an absurd thing to say. Imagine a leader of the National Party saying the party and the government had no idea what had gotten into PW Botha's head when he announced the numerous states of emergency because it was never the party or the apartheid government's thinking.

ANC leaders must get off their obsession with trying to claim easy victories and distorting historical truths.

We all know that the ANC has been in power for all of the 15 years since apartheid fell. The good and the bad have been achieved, to use ANC language, collectively.

The ANC and not Mbeki was responsible for bringing running water and electricity to millions who previously did not enjoy these basic amenities. It was the ANC that saved millions of those who would otherwise have gone hungry, by providing basic income grants.

The party must be proud of its record in creating a black middle class because of employment equity and economic empowerment laws.

If they are to attribute some of the government's programme to some individuals, then it should at the very least be consistent and "blame" Mbeki for all the successes that happened during his watch.

So as far as we are concerned, the unfortunate position on Aids-HIV was ANC policy even if the party is not proud of its record.

Unless they are willing to say that all those Monday meetings at Luthuli House were no more than a gathering of the faithful to hear their spiritual leader preach down at them while they obediently listened.

The above is the easy part. The difficulty for me comes with the possibility that what Zuma had said was true.

If it is, it would mean that by Zuma's account South Africa was an autocracy for close on 10 years, yet those who were aware of it did not think it was something to share with the voting public.

It means they looked with derision at the rest of us who went about spreading the illusion that ours was a model democracy based on a most progressive constitution, which provided for institutions to deepen democracy.

All we had between Nelson Mandela's departure and Mbeki's fall from grace was no more than a sham and a pantomime.

I expect some ANC lackeys would go on about how I could insinuate that the president of the republic is lying, deliberately ignoring that I am also saying that another did worse, he ruled us by decree.

That none of the two versions are before me - that either Zuma is stretching the truth or Mbeki was a ruthless dictator - gives me any comfort and I can only hope that those closest to the levers of power will place the country's interest ahead of those of their comrades.

If they did nothing the last time around, what will make them speak out should another dictator emerge from among them?

The only thing I can take from either of the versions is that we have never needed a more vigilant civil society.

If the elected public officials will not speak truth to power even if millions end up dying deaths that could have been prevented or delayed; or others rewrite history while we watch, you dear citizen are the final bulwark against the threat to the freedom we all fought for.


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