South Africa has the second highest murder rate in the world. It is a favourite hangout for organised crime syndicates from every corner of the world..CORRUPTION...Who Cares ?
. No fear No Favour - The Truth sets you FREE...........
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Apartheid's InfoGate, fresh and relevant after all these years
Photo: BJ Vorster, Prime Minister of South Africa from 1966 to 1978 and as the fourth State President of South Africa from 1978 to 1979. (Creative Commons)
J BROOKS SPECTOR SOUTH AFRICA
29 JANUARY 2013 03:43 (SOUTH AFRICA)
The South African media is reporting a growing litany of charges about suspicious payments to The New Age newspaper by virtue of its close ties to the top leadership of the governing party. This may be a particularly useful moment to look back at what came to be known as the InfoGate or Muldergate, a tangle of illegal payments that ultimately brought down a prime minister of one of the vilest regimes in modern history. By J BROOKS SPECTOR.
Forty years ago, the country’s Apartheid regime was at the apex of its confidence and arrogance, and with its power and influence reaching deep into South African society. Even outsiders critical of the regime could easily have been convinced the Apartheid regime was going to keep its grip onto power for many years to come. This was especially true since a ring of Portuguese colonies, white-dominated Rhodesia and South African-controlled Southwest Africa to the north continued to shelter South Africa from the changes sweeping across the rest of the continent.
Despite this presumed geopolitical reality, South African government leaders were increasingly convinced much of the rest of the world was coming together in a veritable war against their regime. Their response to this became a no-holds-barred expression of their “laager mentality” (the very symbolic, last ditch, circular defence stand against rampaging enemy forces) that had strong resonances with Afrikaner nationalism. They weren’t entirely wrong, of course. World opprobrium against the regime’s brutal racial segregation (and its social, political and economic consequences) was growing. And in the years immediately following 1976, world disapproval grew stronger after the Soweto Uprising and the increased repression against the country’s black majority that followed that explosion of popular discontent.
Into this increasingly intense, swirling climate of fear and arrogance about South Africa’s relationships with an increasingly hostile world, stepped the flawed visionary, Eschel Rhoodie, the South African government’s secretary of the Department of Information. Rhoodie was a true believer in the virtues of Apartheid South Africa but, earlier than many of his contemporaries, he also saw the critical importance of what eventually came to be dubbed by Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye as the use of “soft power” in affecting national power and influence.
In the mid-70s the security of those Portuguese bulwarks in Angola and Mozambique collapsed and as the generally sympathetic, cold warrior-style Nixon administration in the US (and soon after Gerald Ford’s) was superseded by that of Democratic president Jimmy Carter and his new-found emphasis on human rights. With these changes uppermost in their minds, South Africa’s leaders now began to search for ways to bolster their case internationally and to protect vital trade and financial links abroad. But their methods ultimately led to severe international and domestic embarrassments for the country and charges of financial mismanagement that ultimately drove prime minister BJ Vorster and a clutch of others from their offices in disgrace.
The story really begins way back in 1971 when a young, eager diplomat, Eschel Rhoodie was a press officer at South Africa’s Embassy in The Netherlands. His first try with his surreptitious exercise of soft power was in a deal with a Dutch publisher to provide secret support for a new pro-South African news magazine, To The Point.
Rhoodie was not way off the reservation, however. His scheme had the secret backing of then-prime minister BJ Vorster and Vorster’s chief of Intelligence Services (BOSS), General Hendrik van den Bergh, along with Rhoodie’s minister of information, Connie Mulder. (Mulder was the father of deputy minister of agriculture in the ANC government, and the leader of the Freedom Front Plus, Pieter Mulder.) Following this trial run, the following year, Rhoodie returned to Pretoria and become secretary in the Department of Information – effectively its head of “dirty tricks.” Rhoodie was young, dynamic, enterprising and impatient with bureaucratic niceties – the perfect toxic mix to bulldoze through the bureaucratic thickets to get things done.
With Boss support, Rhoodie recruited a tight group of equally eager apparatchiks like his brother Deneys and Les de Villiers to take it to the “enemy”. Rhoodie launched the Committee for Fairness in Sport to counter the country’s growing sports isolation internationally. Then came the so-called Club of Ten international business leaders circle to tackle the activities of the UN and individual countries opposing South Africa’s political situation. By 1973, Rhoodie was working hand-in-glove with Boss head Van den Bergh on hatching a growing list of new – cash only – efforts to counter foreign pressure on the country.
They quickly moved on to bigger, while still secret, fish. Early in 1974, the prime minister and finance minister gave their go-ahead to Rhoodie’s ambitious covert action agenda (with a playbook that had echoes of the old Richard Nixon “dirty tricks” agenda). Moving well beyond the standard tools of above-the-line public affairs activities like gauzy, sympathetic films about the country’s cultural heritage and breezy, colourful magazines and cheerful press releases, Rhoodie and his troops agreed the time was right to finance a no-holds-barred secret campaign of psychological warfare against foreign opinion – and foreign opinion makers. The ends – protecting the Apartheid state - would justify the means for the newly christened Project Annemarie, named after Rhoodie’s daughter.
Their first really big, really audacious move was to position Louis Luyt, the starkly conservative fertiliser manufacturing magnate and rugby kingpin, to purchase the Rand Daily Mail, the country’s premier anti-apartheid newspaper, from the SAAN publishing group. If they were successful, they would be able to silence effectively the single most prominent media voice inside the country countering the regime. But it didn’t work out. Several of the holding company’s major shareholders refused to sell their prestigious but financially struggling title to the toxic Luyt.
As a result, the schemers decided to underwrite, from scratch, an entirely new, avowedly pro-government English language newspaper, once again under Luyt’s ostensible entrepreneurial gifts. The new paper was christened The Citizen and prominent but thoroughly conservative journalists like Aida Parker and Martin Spring were brought in to guide the new publication to popular success. But not too surprisingly, launching a newspaper from scratch, then as now, turned out to be an expensive, cash-eating misadventure, consuming both the secret stash of cash as well as a surreptitiously organised loan to keep it going.
This money had been secretly channelled to the Department of Information from the defence establishment on the tacit understanding that nobody would ever notice a couple of million rand or so going to this little project out of a billion rand defence establishment (back then R5,000 could buy a nice new car). However, as things usually happen, it was the little things that began making trouble for the conspirators, just as soon as the plan unravelled. The bean counters in the defence establishment forgot to add Project Annemarie funds to their formal budget request to the Treasury. Meanwhile, then-defence minister PW Botha began showing increasing bureaucratic unhappiness at effectively being the bagman for all this cloak and danger stuff for a Cabinet rival.
By July 1977, unhappy rumours about the Department of Information’s creative accounting were sufficiently serious that an audit was needed. Then, amid the growing rumours about some seriously close ties between Rhoodie’s department and The Citizen, Louis Luyt opted out of the newspaper business and sold The Citizen to others. Then the smaller fry started to get caught off base, as their stories didn’t quite match up. Rhoodie deputy Les de Villiers bailed out from the department, left the country entirely and joined a PR firm in New York City. Meanwhile, the Information Department minister, Connie Mulder, then had to answer a litany of particularly indelicate parliamentary questions about this whole tangled mess. While under oath he declared that The Citizen newspaper had not been financed by government money, no siree! That creative use of the truth eventually led to his public disgrace and disbarment. And by this time, the scandal had reached much higher. Embarrassed and caught out, BJ Vorster was himself also forced to resign in disgrace.
Given the baying about the dissembling, the finance minister, Owen Horwood, finally felt compelled to appoint Justice Anton Mostert to carry out an inquiry that was specifically charged with looking into exchange-control violations. Finally, despite protestations by the country’s new prime minister, PW Botha, and the finance minister, on 2 November, Justice Mostert told the public what he had learned of the scandal.
The next morning, the Rand Daily Mail, the paper that had almost been purchased by the Project Annemarie plan, but which had then pursued the scammers ruthlessly, ran its famous banner headline that said, “It’s all True.” The story explained, “South Africa's biggest bombshell burst yesterday when Mr Justice Anton Mostert made public startling evidence which has confirmed reports in the Rand Daily Mail and Sunday Express of massive misuse of public money through Department of Information secret funds. Judge Mostert released evidence, which shows beyond doubt, that The Citizen newspaper was financed through State funds. And in evidence under oath, Mr Louis Luyt named the former prime minister, Mr Vorster, the minister of plural relations, Dr Connie Mulder and General Hendrik van den Bergh, former head of the Bureau of State Security, as key figures in the secret project to finance the newspaper.”
Despite the distortions of the political and judicial processes in Apartheid South Africa, a fearless judge had pressed on to the unsavoury but necessary conclusions and made them public without fear or favour.
The same month, still another commission of inquiry under Justice Roelof Botha Erasmus heard testimony from Eschel Rhoodie. Although Rhoodie’s passport had already been pulled from him, he vanished from sight right after testifying before the Erasmus Commission.
By this point, Mulder was taking fire relentlessly in the media. He lost his cabinet post, his leadership position in the National Party and then, finally, his seat in the national parliament. The scandal ruined his political career with the Nats and he eventually lost the 1978 National Party’s leadership race to PW Botha. The Erasmus Commission, appointed by PW Botha, sealed his fate when it revealed serious financial irregularities and abuse of power in the Department of Information. He refused to accept the findings of the Erasmus Commission and was forced out of the National Party, shortly after resigning from Parliament. Mulder eventually became a force in the Conservative Party.
BJ Vorster’s fate was not much better. He resigned the prime ministership after being censured by the Erasmus Commission, even though he was exonerated of any actual involvement in the secret projects of the information scandal. The Erasmus Commission’s final report was actually published the following year.
As for The Citizen, for years the paper was discredited as an independent, albeit pro-government voice, given the circumstances of its birth. The paper’s second editor, Johnny Johnson, argued in an editorial on 6 November 1978, that, yes, “The Citizen was started and funded with government money. That is the finding of the Erasmus Commission. But the government did not direct The Citizen’s editorial policy. That is the assurance I have already given as editor-in-chief of this publication. And it is an assurance, which I repeat today, when the newspaper is at the centre of a new storm of controversy. The Citizen – and I cannot emphasise this strongly enough – was not, and is not, a government propaganda medium of the National Party.”
Meanwhile, skip tracer-style investigative journalists had finally tracked down Rhoodie in Ecuador! He then moved on to the UK, then France and eventually the US where he ended up as a sort of property developer in Atlanta. Along the way, in an interview with veteran BBC reporter David Dimbleby, Rhoodie insisted he was the scapegoat for the whole tawdry business and a whole clutch of senior officials, including the prime minister, had expressly sanctioned the slate of those secret projects. Before he got to the US, however, Rhoodie was extradited by the French back to South Africa, for a trial where he was charged with various counts of fraud and theft. He, in turn, argued his handling of the secret funds had been perfectly clean, but, regardless, he was found guilty on five counts, although he successfully appealed his sentence.
After his final victory in court, Rhoodie gleefully told anyone who would listen, “I have always maintained I was innocent and that the case against me was a political one. That is why I strenuously resisted the government’s efforts to extradite me from France. It was a handful of powerful politicians who used the apparatus of the State, not to mention a vast sum of taxpayers’ money, to destroy me and my family, socially, politically and financially. There were other victims too, outside my family, but they must speak for themselves. These politicians launched a vendetta against the Rhoodie family in 1978, in an all-out effort to crush us, primarily to protect their own involvement in the government’s secret propaganda war of 1971 to 1978. I reject totally the Erasmus Commission’s whitewash of those ministers.”
After he had finally ended up in the US, Rhoodie published a very long, very tendentious, one helluva doorstopper of a book, The Real Information Scandal, that served up a whole stew of charges that dozens of other senior government officials were equally aware of other secret projects his department actively pursued with huge splodges of wonga.
One other major project, of course, reached back to Rhoodie and his allies’ feelings from years earlier about the need to deal with the enemy abroad was the effort to gain influence in Washington, the place that many government leaders feared was now becoming the real locus of their international troubles. As a result, they came up with the idea of buying their way to influencing the influentials in Washington. They wanted to gain control of the conservative but well respected, long established, but money-losing Washington Star, the capital’s oldest newspaper. Once it was in the hands of friendly forces, they could bend its editorial and news policy towards a more sympathetic view of South Africa as a bastion of anti-communism – thereby serving as a base for attacking the actions of liberal Democrats like senators Dick Clark and Gene Tunney, trying to limit support for Unita, among other goals.
They found their new Louis Luyt, Washington-style, in the person of John McGoff, a right-wing media magnate and conservative causes and Republican political campaign fundraiser. McGoff had built a media empire that by then included over a half dozen radio stations, a television outlet and more than 70 regional papers – the Panax Group – located in cities from Michigan to Texas. He also had business interests in South Africa. Project Annemarie funds were quietly made available to McGoff to purchase The Washington Star, but that paper ultimately wasn’t available for purchase, despite its wobbly financial position. (Washington Star filed for bankruptcy in 1981, and its building and printing presses were purchased by The Washington Post.)
In a bit of a double-cross on the schemers, however, McGoff then made use of those same funds to purchase The Sacramento Union in California instead. It seems it was a much better, more profitable business deal for McGoff, but it was clearly not much use for Rhoodie and his would-be American conservative media moguls for influencing Washington politics.
Soon enough, however, the murky hidden sources of the money got McGoff in trouble with the US Justice Department. It charged him with receiving foreign funds and acting as the agent of a foreign nation – without doing the tedious but necessary registration needed to carry out such activities. McGoff, in turn, got off those career crashing charges on a technicality. The courts eventually dismissed the government’s case, but only because the case had reached the courts after the statute of limitations for this particular charge had expired.
In the end, however, like Rhoodie, Mulder, Vorster and the rest, things didn’t turn out very too well for McGoff either. Before he died he had to liquidate his media empire and declare bankruptcy.
Muldergate or Infogate was one of those rare but immensely rewarding moments of victory for both the media and actors from within South Africa’s judicial establishment in favour of the rule of law during the Apartheid era. Despite the robust pressures they faced, they persevered and found out the truth – and the culprits did not live happily ever after. This scandal made it clear, even to the country’s most Panglossian citizens, that government is not always right, or even truthful, and for the same government to bankroll a newspaper, especially via illegal channels, is a pretty damn stupid idea.
And it became a cautionary tale for future generations to, just as Woodward and Bernstein’s “Deep Throat” had so wisely advised reporters in America: “Follow the money.” DM
For more, besides the magisterial book by the two reporters who broke the story, Muldergate: the story of the info scandal, by Mervyn Rees and Chris Day, read:
John McGoff, 73, Entrepreneur And Conservative Fund-Raiser
The Information Scandal at Famous South African Crimes
The Information Scandal at SA History Online
Muldergate Scandal Figure Is Directly Tied To South African Rugby Tour Of The United States at the African Activist Archive
Photo: BJ Vorster, Prime Minister of South Africa from 1966 to 1978 and as the fourth State President of South Africa from 1978 to 1979. (Creative Commons)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Response by Jared Sacks to the City of Cape Town
J BROOKS SPECTOR
J Brooks Spector
Spector settled in Johannesburg after a career as a US diplomat in Africa and East Asia. He has taught at the U. of the Witwatersrand, been a consultant for an international NGO, run a theatre, and been a commentator for South African and international print/broadcast/online media, in addition to writing for The Daily Maverick from day one. He says he learned everything he needs to know about politics from ‘Casablanca.’ Maybe he's cynical about some things, but a late Beethoven string quartet, John Coltrane’s music and a dish of Pad Thai will bring him close to tears.
FNB, Guptas and ANC: Zille responds
January 29 2013 at 12:15pm
By Helen Zille
Comment on this story
DA leader Helen Zille
Helen Zille denies that the DA took money from the Guptas. Here is her full statement:
“Before the Nkandla "white-wash" wiped everything else off the front pages, the past week's headlines were dominated by the First National Bank debacle.
“For those readers who may have been hibernating, FNB Chairman Sizwe Nxasana last week made a grovelling apology to the ANC after the bank's senior executives were summoned to Luthuli house for a roasting over an advertising campaign. This included YouTube clips which showed children speaking of the future. Some made negative comments about the government and at least one Minister.
“As a result, according to reports, an enraged ANC threatened to withdraw government business from FNB. This threat is, in itself, an outrage as it confirms that the ANC decides who gets government contracts. FNB's "crime", said the ANC, was that the advertisements took an "oppositional stance".
“FNB buckled and withdrew the video clips after the ANC argued they could deter investment. That is deeply ironic. The ANC's bullying of a private company, its apparent ability to influence state tenders, and its failure to understand the constitutional right of free speech, will do far more to kill investment than anything a child might have said in a YouTube clip.
“For FNB's part, one of their excuses for withdrawing the ads was to protect the children involved. If FNB had reason to fear for the safety of the children, what does that say about South Africa and the ANC? It is truly chilling.
“Even as this controversy raged, there was a lesser story unfolding in the media, arising out of my decision to withdraw from a televised "New Age" breakfast on 31st January. I made this decision after it emerged that State Owned Enterprises (ESKOM, TRANSNET and TELKOM) had funded 24 breakfasts to the tune of R25-million (over and above the tickets sales of R792 per ticket that more than covered the cost of each breakfast). Furthermore, it emerged that the SABC's hour-long broadcast of each breakfast was free (a donation equivalent of R1.8-million per breakfast to promote a newspaper sympathetic to government).
“It is obvious to any thinking person that this cannot be described as a regular event sponsorship (which would typically cover the cost of part, or all, of the event).
“The word "sponsorship" here is a fig-leaf for disguising the transfer of millions of Rands of taxpayers' money into a company owned by the Guptas, who are major benefactors of the ANC and Jacob Zuma.
“I was not aware of these facts when I spoke at a breakfast in February last year. But this did not deter people from accusing me of "hypocrisy" for turning down this year's invitation. The attacks escalated when the New Age produced a video of the introduction of my speech last year, in which I read a protocol list and thanked the event sponsor, TELKOM. This apparently was "proof" that I knew that state funds were being used. Apart from the fact that the government is a minority shareholder in TELKOM (unlike ESKOM, TRANSNET and the SABC), this argument misses the point. There would have been nothing wrong with an ordinary sponsorship. There is something profoundly wrong with a "sponsorship" being used as a cover for a conduit of state funds to a private benefactor of the ANC and Jacob Zuma.
“But this is standard practice in the ANC. Chancellor House has been set up precisely to facilitate these deals. It is corruption writ large.
“Instead of focusing on this, the media diverted their attention to my alleged "hypocrisy". I said that most reasonable people adapt their position when new facts emerge. There is nothing hypocritical about that. It is plain common sense.
“The next diversionary tactic was to accuse the DA of taking donations from the Guptas, and the "hypocrisy" allegations reached a crescendo. The argument went like this: It was hypocritical of you, Helen Zille, to pull out of a breakfast sponsored by the government to benefit the Gupta's newspaper because the DA also allegedly received donations from the Guptas".
“With respect this is a nonsensical argument. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Guptas giving money to any political party they choose - as long as they do not request or receive favours from a government using taxpayers' money as a reward. I said, I could guarantee that no-one in the DA had ever exercised any influence on any DA administration to give the Guptas (or any of their companies) preferential treatment. Nor had we ever siphoned taxpayers' money to them under the guise of "sponsorships".
“Most journalists didn't get it. They kept asking me whether we had received money from the Guptas. I kept replying: Ask Them. If they wish to answer the question, they are free to do so. Indeed, I would welcome them clearing this matter up. But I cannot do so because the DA makes a commitment of confidentiality to our donors. The reason for this is obvious. If the FNB got roasted and almost lost its government contracts because of its "oppositional stance", you can imagine what would happen to individuals or companies who donate funds to the opposition!
“This is the sad reality of South Africa's democracy. Ideally the DA would prefer full transparency. But if we were the only party to apply it, most of our donations would dry up - together with any prospect of sustaining democracy in South Africa.
“Of course, there are risks associated with confidentiality as well - such as the opportunity this creates for people with malicious agendas, such as Marius Fransman, to invent insane allegations, such as that the DA received R4-million from the Guptas to renovate our Cape Town offices! That is so ludicrous that most thinking people would just dismiss it. But some journalists took it seriously and gave it substantial air time. Within minutes it was being repeated on social media as ‘fact’.
“When I heard this, I decided to take the unprecedented step of telephoning our donor to ask him to release me from our commitment of confidentiality.
“He declined. He said he did not want his name in the papers. He is not a Gupta. He is an executive in a company owned by the Guptas. I gave him the undertaking I would not mention his name, but I said, given the wild and unfounded speculation (masquerading as fact) I would have to set the record straight. I undertook not to mention him by name.
“I also tried to phone the Guptas, but the telephone number I obtained was no longer operational.
“So, protecting individual identities as much as possible in these extremely unusual circumstances, here is the story.
“In the run-up to the 2009 elections, the DA North West Provincial Leader, Chris Hattingh, contacted the DA's fund-raising office to say a long-standing acquaintance of his wanted to make a donation to the DA's election campaign. The fund-raising staff made an appointment for me to speak to him. I did, and I received a pledge of R200 000.
“The donor then suggested that I come and fetch the cheque at the Gupta's house in Saxonwold, and it transpired that he was a senior executive in one of the Guptas companies. I and my colleague Ian Davidson duly went to the Guptas home, ate some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten, and received the cheque for R200 000 from the individual who had made the pledge. It was a personal cheque from his personal bank account. It did NOT come from a Gupta company, nor from the Guptas, but it was handed over at their home.
“The DA subsequently thanked the donor. And, because we had been guests at the Gupta's home, our fundraising department included our standard letter of thanks to the Guptas, even though the donation had not come from them.
“Later, during the campaign, when funds were tight, we sent an appeal to a range of donors and potential donors. Mr Tony Gupta was one of them. We did not get support from him. But we did get support from the same executive who had previously donated. Again, he wrote us a personal cheque from his private bank account in the amount of R100 000.
“In 2010, the fundraising department scheduled an annual fundraising meeting between me and the same businessman, at which he pledged another R100 000. We received this amount by cheque, but this time the cheque was made out in the name of a company of which the donor is a senior executive. This company is either partially or wholly owned by the Guptas (but is not one of their well known brands such as Sahara Computers or The New Age newspaper).
“In 2011, Chris Hattingh, who had first introduced us to this donor, prompted me to approach him again. Chris said the donor wished to contribute in his personal capacity as he believed in what the DA was doing. By this time, I was becoming concerned about news stories linking donations from companies associated with the Guptas to the ANC's power abuse and political patronage. Even though it was stressed that the person would make the donation in his individual capacity, I did not think it wise to pursue the relationship. I therefore declined the request for an appointment.
“The same occurred in 2012.
“Early this year (ironically on the same day I withdrew from the New Age Breakfasts) Chris contacted me again to say his acquaintance had requested another meeting, and he presumed it was to continue his donations to the DA in his personal capacity. I declined for the third year in a row.
“Without naming names, that is the full story. I normally would not tell it. This is an exceptional circumstance, in which the facts have been twisted and manipulated once again to undermine the DA.
“Perhaps most importantly: the donor has never once asked a DA government for any special favours or preferential treatment. He knows very well that we don't function like that.
“The Guptas have only ever asked me for one favour: Once, before they were scheduled to come to Cape Town, their secretary called and requested an official police escort for them from the airport. I said no.
“So where is the scandal?
“I suggest that the media stop following the trail of red herrings, laid out for them by the ANC, and start following the real scandal, which is the diversion of millions of Rands of taxpayers money to private companies who donate to the ANC and the Zuma family.”
Power, money and the ANC: There will be blood
MANDY DE WAAL
23 JANUARY 2013 02:42 (SOUTH AFRICA)
Relative “calm” has returned to South Africa following the bloody turbulence that was the run-up to Mangaung. On the surface, Jacob Zuma’s landslide victory has silenced dissidents who challenged his position for ANC presidency, and the ruling party is now battening down the hatches in an effort to control in-fighting. But when having the right position within the ANC means the difference between being middle-class or destitute, it is unlikely that the contestation for access to patronage networks and resources will remain under control for long.
The advent of January 2013 heralded a rebirth for the ANC, a renewal campaign for which the strategy was that those loyal to the ruling party would be “economically advanced”. When SA’s president declared at the party’s 101st anniversary gala dinner that those who supported the ANC would be rewarded, Zuma did not only mean businesses that were loyal to the former liberation movement.
Instructing ANC members to make use of internal channels for voicing grievances, party spokesperson Keith Khoza told The New Age that the ruling party’s new unity strategy included focusing on the “liberation of people so that they could advance economically”.
“Our focus will be based on improving the lives of our people. We have a vision that we share with our alliance partners, which is derived from the Freedom Charter. We will guide our alliance partners and we hope they will work with us well in the new year,” said Khoza.
“While we respect the fact that our alliance partners can express their views, we also wish to say there are internal channels that they can use to articulate their views, instead of engaging each other on public platforms.”
2013 sees the ANC reborn not only as a political party, but as a powerful organisation with access to resources, jobs and wealth. The clear message is that if you’re useful to the ANC and you support the ruling party, you’re in... and will have access to economic advancement. However, if you publicly criticise or attack the congress, like Julius Malema did, you’ll find yourself in the wilderness with the public prosecutor, sheriff of the court and debt collectors knocking at your door.
As Richard Calland, Associate Professor in the Public Law Department at the University of Cape Town, writes: “Arguably, the ANC's character has long ago changed beyond the point of no return: to some observers of the Mangaung proceedings it has become a party of ‘arrivistes’, a vehicle for the socioeconomic advancement of individuals, but not the grand driver of structural social change and reform it once was.”
A new lens is required for looking at the ANC, and columnist and political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi offers this lens, when he tells Daily Maverick that “since 1994, the access to political power is no longer an end in itself, but has become the means towards the achievement of other ends, particularly narrow economic gain.”
Says Matshiqi: “If you look at the violence (in the run-up to Manguang, provincial elections or local elections), there are basically two drivers, the battle for political power and the battle for money. The two are interlinked. If you win the battle for political power you have access to money.”
The political murders and assassinations are all part of a bloody struggle for class formation, and at a provincial and local level, particularly in regions like the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the North West, where poverty is rife and jobs are scarce, the only way to be part of an emerging middle class is through government.
“The main access point (to wealth in these areas) is the state, through the ANC. If you win political battles in the ANC, you can then enter the ranks of the middle class, because the ANC is so dominant as the governing party, and the state is the main platform of middle-class formation in those provinces,” Matshiqi says.
In a country where over a quarter of the population is unemployed, and where this statistic rises to some 50% amongst the youth, and can reach 75% in rural villages and sprawling rural townships, loyalty to the ANC can mean access to money and more. One in five South Africans or some 2.8-million people now work for government, the biggest employer in the country, who pays employees 34% more on average than the private sector.
The contest for position within the ANC is dangerous, and at times even deadly, because with position comes the ability to dispense employment and access to resources. What ANC-aligned politicians are fighting for isn’t just a place at the feeding trough, as it has been repeatedly and vulgarly put. What we’re seeing is an epic seeding contest amongst factions within in the ANC to become part of the power elite, or as close to it as possible.
At a senior level within the ANC, this has realised the creation of an authoritative new cluster, a group that Daily Maverick has written about. At a cabinet level, the struggle for power determines your ranking and status, and because this is mostly a public competition, the outcome means access to patronage networks in varying degrees, or being cast out into the wilderness like a leper.
At the branches and in the provinces, faction fights largely take place on the news periphery, and here feuds are often “resolved” with gunfire. This was the case with Wandile “Wonderboy” Mkhize, who was mowed down on his way home in June 2012 following an ANC meeting where pro- and anti-Zuma groups were at each other’s throats. Mkhize’s story briefly flowed through the news machine, before attention was rapidly diverted to the high drama of succession battles between top ANC leaders, Nkandla and other personality politics.
What the ANC has created is a series of dependencies. At the apex of the ANC, sits the power elite who hold the reins to patronage and resources. Beyond the elite are an emerging middle class who rely on the power elite for their status. Then there’s the entrepreneurial class that is largely dependent on the State for tenders. And below the middle class, the mass working class on whom everyone is reliant on keeping the economy going.
It is here that the ANC’s fault lines lie. These rifts and splits live between the newly evolved classes; between the “haves” and the “have-nots”; between the nouveau riche and the desperately poor who both fought a liberation war but received dramatically different outcomes. The fractures exist between those who support Zuma’s patronage networks, and those who do not.
Zuma’s victory was overwhelming at a national level, but it is at the provincial and local level where these fault lines are most exposed, and where they will collide to create conflict.
As Calland writes: “Mangaung has shuffled the deck of cards. The anatomy of power has changed, subtly yet potentially significantly. But the core socio-economic fundamentals are unbendingly unchanged: the grinding poverty and unsustainable inequality; the degradation and indignity of permanent unemployment; the understandable anger of the youth; and the scope for violence and social destabilisation in a desperately precarious nation.”
The ANC will likely create unity amongst those who depend on its patronage and who are happy with their positions within the organisation. Beyond that, and for those who live outside these networks, the battle for access to resources and patronage networks will realise the same bitter fighting as it did in 2013. There will be blood. DM
Grand slam for Zuma, but what about the poor? in Mail & Guardian
ANC: The battle for power is about to begin by Richard Calland in Mail & Guardian
COMMENTS BY SONNY
J BROOKS SPECTOR should have started in 1918 with the formation of the BroederBond or Afrikaner BroederBond as it became in 1919.
"The Super Afrikaner" Inside the Afrikaner Broederbond......
He could then have gone onto the Ossewa Brandwag which was formed in 1938. (The Ossewabrandwag (OB) was formed by Johannes Frederik Janse 'Hans' van Rensburg in 1938 to formally represent the increasing Afrikaner Nationalism ...)
The revolt by the Ossewa Brandwag prior to WWII and the sabotage that lead to internment at Koffiefontein in the Orange Free State of the perpetrators by Genl Jan Smuts and the SAP. The "Red Oath" that had to be taken before enlistment in the SADF.
1948 The National Party take over of South Africa and the eventual rise of all these "MEN" mentioned in the article (book) and their take over of the Country, its infrastructure, religion, education, health, and forces and the SABC.
Then and only then, do we get up to speed with Eshel Rhoodie and the Info Scandal.
Alan D Elsdon published a "good read" on Hendrik van der Bergh and his dirty tricks department and the ultimate resignation of B J Vorster and all his infamous friends from Koffiefontein.
Buy My Cryptic Life by Alan Elsdon (Paperback)........
Now, in 2013 we have a similar situation with J Zuma as President of the ANC and South Africa, his Gupta friends and the acquisition of the "New Era" Newspaper which is exclusively ANC and caters for Zuma and his cronies.
The SABC has also been taken over by the ANC as their "official organ to the people for the people!"
Yes, the People are paying for ANC exclusive air time.
The "Soft Powering" of DA Helen Zille with 'donations' and 'breakfasts' and other shady tricks to soften up the official opposition.
All nations have in the past made use of "Dirty Tricks" to effective rule countries and dupe people into being subservient to them.
The Royalty and Nobel's are the best examples of Classist Oppression!
Now we have tribal dictators.
The American Mafia sponsors the USA government and that is a reason why JFK could not put them out of business. He died trying.
The British, American, Russian and now the Chinese are all thriving after eating a piece of the Illuminati Pie!
The ingredients of a New World Order.