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
27 August 2007

What kind of enemy are you?

I had so much fun lambasting the anonymous writer on the ANC Today website yesterday, that I did not notice the very carefully drawn list of the “enemies” of the “national democratic revolution, the ANC and the masses it leads”. Apart from those forces who were opposed to the ANC revolution before 1994, the writer identifies the more devious enemies as follows:

We must also recognise the reality that this situation makes it very easy for some who might have been inspired temporarily to attach themselves to the ascendant revolution to change their positions. This includes those who might find greater comfort among, and in the positions advanced by a necessarily sophisticated opposition to the political vanguard of national democratic revolution, in the aftermath of the victory of the democratic revolution.

It also encompasses those who, for partisan reasons, might find themselves acting in collusion with the ideological opposition forces which would consciously avoid presenting themselves as opponents of the national democratic revolution, while openly positioning themselves as adversaries of the vanguard movement of the national democratic revolution.

Now I am wondering where I fit in. I am surely not one of those “enemies” who feel more comfortable with the “sophisticated opposition” than with my previously beloved ANC and has therefore felt the need to switch sides.

I don’t even believe that there is a sophisticated opposition in South Africa – unless one includes civil society opposition groups like the Treatment Action Campaign, of course. Characters in the official opposition (think Theuns Botha and Dougie Gibson) are about as sophisticated as a sheep farmer from Putsonderwater and I would feel very uncomfortable to share a room with them – let alone a party.

But now that I have called the national democratic revolution a load of codswallop, I am clearly also not an “enemy” “consciously not presenting myself as an enemy” of said revolution while opposing the ANC’s vanguard role in it.

O dear, I suppose the learned writer forgot to include those of us who are “enemies” of the ANC because we shockingly believe that the aim of political parties in our democracy should ideally be to change (for the better) the social and economic conditions under which especially poor and marginalised people live, while respecting and expanding the rights and freedoms that individuals need to even begin to make important life choices.

We are obviously enemies who, under the guise of supporting social and economic transformation of the masses of our people, wish to limit the power of the ANC to tell us what to think and say and do.

What kind of enemy of the ANC and the national democratic revolution are you?

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