Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
6 April 2010

Wake up and worry about the real threats to our democracy

I really do not understand why everyone is making such a fuss about the murder of a completely irrelevant, right wing, racists, megalomaniac like Eugene Terreblanche. Of course, it is always tragic when someone is killed, and Mr Terreblanche’s family and friends must feel much sadness at his passing – something we must try and respect.

But although the killing of yet another South African does remind us of the extremely violent and polarised nature  of the society we live in,  Terreblanche was politically a spent force and his murder – no matter how sad and senseless – was therefore irrelevant from a political perspective and his death should not have been as politically noteworthy as it has become. After all, the AWB consists of no more than a few bearded grey men who seem to have an inability to stay on top of their horses after drinking one brandy and coke too many.

There are far more sinister and politically relevant events to worry about. Our democracy is facing a fundamental threat from the Kebbelists, the tenderpreneurs, the facists and the Stalinists, but we are all so busy getting hysterical about a silly song and about the sad killing of a lonely old man, that we hardly seem to notice.

News that Mr. Kebby Maphatsoe, national chairperson of the MK-veterans association, launched a vicious attack on the judiciary by saying  that judges who ban struggle songs like “Kill the Boer” “wants to bring back apartheid” poses far more of a danger to our democracy than the killing of Terreblanche or even the singing of the “Kill the Boer” song. The fact that Julius Malema and the MK veterans are on the same page and are both undermining the judiciary because of the “Kill the Boer” ruling is really scary.

Julius reinforced the view that he has utter contempt for our constitutional democracy on Saturday when he said the following to the SABC from Zimbabwe (where he was making friends with his fellow anti-democratic kleptocrats):

That court interdict does not apply here [in Zimbabwe]. The order was granted by an untransformed judiciary system, which is the same one that was operating during the apartheid system. It [judiciary] was defeated by the struggle.

Meanwhile the MK veterans association said yesterday they refused to accept the interim interdict. “There is no way we would stop singing this song. The judge (Bertelsmann) is uninformed. It is people schooled in apartheid laws who have been sitting there for 40 years and do not realise that things have changed” which hand down such judgments, Maphatsoe said. According to the MK veterans, judges who do not understand the history of the ANC and the armed struggle is not entitled to pronounce on issues that touch on the heritage of the ANC.

This kind of talk is far more dangerous and irresponsible than the singing of the actual “Kill the Boer” song. It is also uninformed and idiotic and suggests that Mr Maphatsoe is not the sharpest tool in the shed and does not have a firm grip on reality.

The thing is, Bertelsmann granted the interim  interdict on the basis that a case had been made out that it infringed on section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act. Mr Maphatsoe and Julius Malema seem not to understand that this act was passed by the democratically elected Parliament and contains a sweeping hate speech provision that will almost certainly be found to prohibit the “Kill the Boer” song when it is sung in a political context. Judge Bertelsmann did not apply apartheid law but the law tabled in Parliament by the ANC Minister of Justice and voted for by the ANC dominated legislature.

It is scandalous that these enemies of democracy now want to argue that because they do not like the law which they themselves passed, they will ignore the interpretation of that law by a judge (who happened to have been appointed after 1994 by the democratically elected President) and will ignore the order by the court. Such statements fundamentally undermine respect for the independence and integrity of our courts and are seditious. This is the kind of fascist talk that poses a grave danger to our democracy.

The statement that only judges who understand and agree with the ANC version of history will be respected and that those judges who choose to apply the law rather than obey the whims of the ANC MK veterans and Youth League cannot enforce the law against the ANC, is so fundamentally at odds with any tenet of democracy that one suspects Stalin himself might have come to Mr Maphatsoe in a dream to give him this startling insight. These people are dangerous. They will destroy our democracy if they are not stopped.

President Zuma rightly received some praise for his statesmanlike remarks in the wake of the killing of Terreblanche. But statements are not enough. ANC leaders need to reign in these dangerous anti-democratic forces in their midst. Talk is cheap, but what is really required is action. Julius should be disciplined for his shocking disrespect for our democratic order and for his behaviour which fundamentally undermines one of the three branches of our government. If he is not disciplined it will suggest the ANC tacitly supports this little fascist kleptocrat (or at least, are too scared of him to do anything about his actions).

Speaking of Malema’s kleptocratic tendencies, City Press reported on Sunday that Julius Malema has now officially asked the Companies and Intellectual Properties Registration Office (Cipro) to de-register him as one of the directors of SGL Engineering Projects. This means, first, that Julius has been lying all this time about not being a director of SGL Engineering and about having asked for his membership as a director to be removed from the register months ago. If he is only now asking to have his name as a director removed, he was obviously lying when he stated previously that he was no longer a director.

Being caught out in such a blatant lie should have embarrassed Julius and the ANC. Brazenly telling lies like this and then implicitly admitting that you had lied, brings one’s organisation into disrepute and perpetuates the view that one’s organisation is stuffed chock a block with dishonest thieves. Surely any organisation with any pride and self-respect, with a moral compass of sorts, would have instituted disciplinary action against a member caught out telling such blatant and self-serving lies?

Second the fact that Little Julie is now giving up his directorship means nothing, because whether he is a director of SGL Engineering is really neither here nor there. The question is whether he owns shares in the company and is entitled to share in its profits. One can give up one’s directorship but still hold a 70% share in the company and take 70% of the profits made by that company. One need not be a director of a company to profit from the illegally obtained tenders given to that company.

So, even if Malema gave up his directorship, chances are that he is still raking in the money as the majority shareholder in the company. No wonder Julius went to Zimbabwe this weekend. He obviously wanted to get some tips from ZanuPF about how they had managed to stay in power for so long while mercilessly looting state coffers and stealing from the poor.

These issues are the issues that will destroy our democracy and will ruin the lives of ordinary South Africans who vote en masse for the ANC – not the singing of a “Kill the Boer” song or the murder of a has been racist. Wake up people and make a noise about the things that matter!

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