Disc Dem

Disc Dem

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Disconnecting Some Dots

Connecting the dots originated as a children’s puzzle, where each dot is numbered and if you draw a line between each dot in the correct numbered sequence, a recognisable picture emerges and you become an instant artist.

Wikipedia’s definition includes...... "connecting the dots" is used as a metaphor to illustrate an ability (or inability) to associate one idea with another, to find the "big picture", or salient feature, in a mass of data.

For me, the “Big Picture” of South African politics is just a tangled web of lies and deception that has no believable pattern, nor recognisable form. So instead of continuing to pursue the connection of wildly divergent dots, I have tried to disconnect some of them to see if an alternative picture emerges when they are reconnected differently.

Our generally recognised “Big Picture” in South Africa is that the Gupta family has captured Jacob Zuma, and through him all the essential organs of State. JZ is identified as the ignorant, pliable puppet with the Gupta family pictured as the puppet masters who are pulling everyone’s wire – as it were.

But what picture emerges if we connect the dots differently? What if Jacob Zuma is the Puppet Master who “captured” the Guptas with promises of wealth beyond imagining provided they acted as his surrogate bankers and political facilitators?

First of all, our President may be undereducated, but do not make the mistake of believing he is ignorant or stupid, and my dot-reconnecting conjecture is that his dynastic dictatorship game-plan began over 20 years ago.

To follow this particular line of dots I have retraced some of the significant timelines in JZ’s rise that are bringing him ever closer to realising his ambition to establish a Zuma dynasty.  It is quite a long story that goes back some time, but if you have the patience to follow these dots with me then I hope your endurance will be rewarded with a completely different perspective of where we stand today, and where, perhaps, we might go tomorrow. So, once upon a time.........

1 - Jacob Zuma and Nkosazana Dlamini: Early Period (1982-1999)
In 1982 JZ married Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini.  

In 1994 Dr Nkosazana Zuma as she was then called, was appointed Minister of Health in South Africa’s first democratically elected government under Nelson Mandela.

In 1996 the Ministry of Health funded a “dangerously inaccurate” anti-Aids play, Sarafina 2, which heralded the first sniff of possible corruption surrounding the Zuma family. According to a 1996 New York Times article “..... the Cabinet Minister in charge of health has been caught lying to Parliament. The production contract turned out to have gone to a good friend of hers. Proper bidding procedures were ignored. The private donor she said had paid the bill had never heard of the play.”

Over the next couple of years the Sarafina controversy and a 1997 Virodene scandal refused to go away for Nkosazana. Meanwhile, Jacob had eyes on the Deputy Presidency that would be open to him at the end of Nelson Mandela’s term of office in 1999, but which ran the risk of being derailed by the smallest hint of familial corruption or ineptitude.

So, in 1998, after 16 years of marriage, and four children later, Jacob and Nkosazana divorced over “irreconcilable differences”, which is the least controversial and most convenient method of severing marital ties without any further attached scandal.

Interestingly, it was only after the divorce that Nkosazana introduced the hyphenated Dlamini-Zuma nametag. Perhaps indicating an ongoing connection beyond marital boundaries? Or indicating a politically inspired divorce born of like minds, rather than their supposedly irreconcilably different minds?  Separate but still connected?....... Hold those thoughts for a while......

In 1999 under the Presidency of Thabo Mbeki, JZ was duly appointed Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa.   In the same year, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was redeployed by Thabo Mbeki from Minister of Health, to Minister of Foreign Affairs.   My own suspicion is that this appointment was most likely influenced by JZ, not only to initially distance Nkosazana from the Sarafina/Virodene spotlights, but perhaps more importantly, to improve her overall political profile. After all, in any government worldwide, Foreign Affairs Ministers and their equivalents have a much higher profile than Health Ministers.

2 - Jacob Zuma and the ANCYL (1994-Present)    (“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”)
In December 1994 Jacob was elected as National Chairperson of the ANC, as well as Chairperson of the ANC in Kwazulu-Natal. These appointments put him in close association with ANC Youth League structures across the country, and in particular the KZN branch. It is therefore not entirely surprising to learn that in 1996 a Zulu was elected as National President of the ANCYL.

What might be surprising, is the name of that Zulu is Malusi Gigaba, our recently and controversially appointed Minister of Finance. There is also no doubt that the ANCYL were influential in the appointment of Zuma to the Deputy Presidency in 1999.

Gigaba held the ANCYL position for eight years until 2004, when the baton was passed to another familiar political name – Fikile Mbalula, who was recently reshuffled from the Sports Ministry to become our latest Minister of Police.

In 2007 at the ANC National Convention held in Polokwane, Limpopo Province, the ANCYL, under the leadership of Mbalula vehemently and vociferously supported Jacob Zuma against Thabo Mbeki’s campaign to serve as ANC President for what would amount to a third, essentially   unconstitutional term of office.

In 2008 at a chaotic ANCYL conference marred by tactics of intimidation and violent confrontation between opposing factions, Julius “I-will-die-for-Zuma” Malema, supported by his predecessor Mbalula, was controversially elected as the new National President of the Youth League.  Up until this point it is quite clear that Jacob Zuma was the Puppet Master who had the ANCYL dancing to his tune. They really were prepared to go to any lengths to protect him.

The picture changed somewhat after 2011 when Julius Malema was re-elected unopposed, after his only contender, Lebogang Meile, declined to stand against him. Zuma recognised that Malema’s increasingly high-profile and revolutionary rhetoric had not only loosened his own grip on the puppet strings of the Youth League, but also threatened to derail his long term dynastic plans.

So in 2012 reasons were found to have Julius expelled from the ANC, putting JZ firmly back in the driving seat.[1] In the resulting fallout, all Youth League structures were disbanded in 2013.  They were only re-established in 2015 after JZ had found himself another pliable puppet in the form of a somewhat less-than-youthful Collen “Oros” Maine.

From here onwards the modus operandi of the Puppet Master and these puppets is clear. Nothing more needs to be added except, in closing this segment, to tell you that the quotation in the heading “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future” came from one Adolf Hitler - just saying.

3 – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the ANCWL (1991-Present)
While Jacob was busy with the Youth League, Nkosazana was busy with the Women’s League where she was instrumental in establishing their national structures, and from 1991-1993 served as chairperson of their Southern Natal Region.

By now, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that during her three years as regional chair, her committee included Bathabile Dlamini, our less-than-capable Minister of Social Development who suspiciously avoided the chop in JZ’s latest Cabinet reshuffle.

Interestingly, during the very same 2013-2015 period that the Youth League structures were out of commission, the Women’s league also failed to hold their required congress to elect new leadership. This brings me back to the nature of the relationship between Jacob and Nkosazana. Were these events coincidental, or were they the Puppet Masters waiting to align their new puppets?

Whatever the answer, in Bathabile Dlamini’s election as chairperson of the ANCWL in 2015, Jacob and Nkosazana got the puppet they both needed to move their plans forward.   What is unbelievably crass about this is that we have a Constitution that strongly promotes gender equality yet, in Bathabile Dlamini, we have the leader of a powerful women’s organisation who will go to any lengths to protect a patriarchal sexist, who believes that a particular item of female attire represents an open invitation to have sex. (Remember Kwezi?).

4 - Jacob Zuma and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (2000 – Present)
Because of the above overlapping timelines, it is difficult not to connect the dots in a picture that shows there has been some careful planning in the way that Jacob and Nkosazana have moved themselves forward. The King and Queen executing a subtle coordination of moves with outcomes that always ensured there was a Plan B if Plan A failed. 

Another example - in June 2005 when Thabo Mbeki fired Jacob Zuma because of his links to a fraud and corruption scandal surrounding the $5 billion Arms Deal, it was reported that Mbeki first offered the vacant Deputy Presidency position to Dlamini-Zuma, which she declined. It was a seemingly inexplicable decision because had she taken the position then, it would have been the clearest, cleanest and quickest route for her to become South Africa’s first female President, possibly as early as 2007.

In my picture, however, that would have required their ditching of “Plan A”, which was for Jacob to be the first of them to assume the Presidency, and moving them straight to the implementation of “Plan B”, which is for her to ultimately assume the Presidency.  However, this would have left no fall-back Plan “C” position, and had there been any resistance to a female becoming President at the 2007 National Convention in Polokwane, their dynastic plans would be immediately spiked.

Her decision not to accept the vice-presidency in 2005 therefore only makes sense when you consider that the ANC’s National Convention was a relatively short 18 months away and, although politically wounded, and with the Youth League fully behind him, Jacob Zuma was still strong enough to challenge Mbeki.  It was therefore worth risking the wait, for the sake of their future dynasty.

Much of Zuma’s perceived strength could also be drawn from the general ANC membership’s discomfort with Mbeki wanting to serve an unconstitutional third term as President. They perhaps saw another African dictator in the making, and seemingly worked on the principle of “anyone but Mbeki”, which played directly into Jacob Zuma’s hands.

In 2007 Dlamini-Zuma had an apparent change of heart when she agreed to run as Mbeki’s Vice Presidential candidate at the Polokwane Convention to be held that December. This about-turn alone makes a case for rejoining the dots differently.  By waiting the relatively short period of 18 months, the Zumas were able to keep both A and B plans in place. If Jacob won, he would become President first (Plan A), and if he lost, Nkosazana was appropriately positioned to still eventually become the first female President of the Republic of South Africa after serving as Mbeki’s deputy (Plan B).

Another give-away that the relationship between JZ and NDZ is perhaps not all that it appears to be, is that Nkosazana became the only Mbeki “supporter” to be retained by Jacob in his first 2007 Cabinet.   Not only that, but in 2009 he moved her from Foreign Affairs, where she was fairly anonymous in fulfilling her duties, to the Department of Home Affairs. While many thought this was a demotion, it actually gave her the opportunity to claim a great success in turning the chaotic Home Affairs Department around. However, it appears that much of the work had already been accomplished by the Director General, Mavuso “Mr Turnaround” Msimang, starting as early as 2007.

Nkosazana’s “administrative success” at the Department of Home Affairs was used in 2012 as the spring-board from which the Puppet Master, Jacob, pushed her to controversially contest, and win, the position of Chairperson of the African Union. A position she never seemed entirely comfortable to hold, and one that was overshadowed by “...African rivalries, suspicions about her abilities, and the reasons why her former husband, Jacob Zuma, pushed so hard for her to get the job”...

There is no doubt that Dlamini-Zuma is a seasoned politician, but there is also a shadow of the Puppet Master’s hand to be seen behind every career move she has made. Join the dots differently and you might glimpse the almost invisible hand of her ex-husband, subtly but steadily orchestrating the perceived improvements in her political stature, in preparation for her for eventual succession to the Zuma dynastic throne.

But is she really Presidential material? Rebecca Davies wrote a very telling article on this subject for the Daily Maverick in 2015, which reflects that Dlamini-Zuma’s performances have been somewhat less than stellar wherever she has been.

Returning to the redrawn “Big Picture”, you must have noticed that the Guptas have not yet featured. This is because I find it almost impossible to believe that an immigrant family of opportunistic traders with flexible morality are in any way capable of derailing Zuma’s master-plan, laid out above, by “capturing” him so quickly and easily.

When then Deputy President Jacob Zuma met the Guptas, reportedly for the first time in the 2002/3 timeframe, not only was his dynastic plan already well underway, but it was also a time when I believe the Guptas would not have had enough money to tempt the Zumas away from their ambition.

It is therefore more likely that the Guptas were trying to curry favour (pun intended) with Jacob Zuma and, strategist that he is, I believe JZ would have seized the opportunity to convert them to his own cause with promises of wealth beyond their wildest dreams, as long as they fronted his own ambitious State Capture end-game.

Our President is renowned for putting others in the firing line while staying a safe distance away from any potential fallout, so when it comes to bribery and corruption of State officials is he likely to approach an official such as Mcebisi Jonas, or Vytjie Mentor himself, or is he more likely use a surrogate, or puppet?

If you accept that Jacob Zuma is the Puppet Master hell bent on securing if not a dictatorship, at least a dynasty, then you must also accept that when he laughs that trademark laugh, he is not only mocking the opposition, but also mocking the ANC for not seeing through his plans to use them for his own purposes.

If you accept the redrawn “Big Picture”, or even some of it, then you must conclude that Jacob and Nkosazana do not love and are not loyal to the people of South Africa. Nor do they love and nor are they loyal to the ANC, the organisation that has trusted them for so many years to further the cause of social justice. They are peas in a pod, two like minds whose only ambition is to perpetuate and cement the Zuma dynasty.

Even if half-true, the message to the ANC leadership is that these two cadres have abused their positions and brought the ANC into disrepute by bringing both the ANC, and the entire country, to the brink of disaster. It is well beyond the time for you to take action to remove them and their puppets before it is too late for all of us.

To ANC MP’s who may shortly be asked to vote in a motion of no confidence, your smallnyana skeletons will be as nothing compared to the devastation that a Zuma dynastic dictatorship will bring, so feel free to vote your conscience. All will be forgiven if you prevent the Zumas from destroying our country, and everything the ANC has worked so hard to achieve.

[1] An unintended consequence, I believe unforeseen because of the arrogance of JZ and his cohorts, was that this action led to the formation of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – a political vehicle being used by Julius Malema to conduct what amounts to a personal vendetta against Zuma.  But that is another story for another day.

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Rape of the Nation Report

We are living in a surreal post truth era, where alternative facts (lies) and fake news reports (more lies) proliferate; an era dominated by fake politicians making fake promises to voters living in fake democracies, and we are falling for it over and over again.
Social media platforms in particular demonstrate how gullible we are, confirming Edward de Bono’s view that... There's a danger in the internet and social media. The notion that information is enough, that more and more information is enough, that you don't have to think, you just have to get more information (is) very dangerous”.  
The key observation here being “you don’t have to think”, and it only takes a quick glance at any of the on-line social media platforms to realise that, worldwide, this already constitutes a clear and present danger.  
That we can be selective about what we read and who we follow, coupled with a proven propensity to believe something is true simply because it fits what we want to believe, pushes us further into the unthinking danger zone of seeking only affirmation of our beliefs, while blithely ignoring contrasting viewpoints and contradictory evidence. A proverb that begins with the words “birds of a feather....” springs to mind, which also seems a particularly apt way to describe one of the more prominent social media platforms.
Unsurprisingly it is the world’s demagogues, past masters at exploiting weaknesses in the human condition, who are thriving in this environment.
“Leave” campaigners in the UK Brexit saga used a number of alternative facts including, for example, savings of £350m per week to be directed to the National Health Service, to carry out “the greatest fraud ever perpetrated in British politics”.
In the United States, Donald Trump is a living and breathing generator of random alternative facts and fake news, to such an extent that it prompted CNN reporter Zachary Wollf to rhetorically ask: "What does it mean when he says words?”. And if you can spare 30 minutes, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight dissection of Trumps problem with the truth sums up the very real danger of having a bullshit artist in charge of a nuclear arsenal.
Here in South Africa we have also stopped thinking; and because we have stopped thinking we are being buried under a mountain of vitriolic alternative facts and fake news. Launched by the EFF’s post-truth land ownership crusade, and their alternative facts assault on so-called White Monopoly Capital, this predominantly anti-white rhetoric has now been hijacked by Jacob Zuma and his captured cohorts. They have learned quickly that their followers will unreservedly believe anything and everything they are told, so truth has become the main casualty of their ambition.
Their latest Radical Economic Transformation mantra is a minefield of alternative facts and fake news reports, all of which ignore the fundamental prerequisites for sustainable transformation, which are fiscal stability, and a first class education system.  Pravin Gordhan is fighting tooth-and-nail for the first, but despite providing huge budgets for education the ANC government has failed spectacularly over the last 22+ years to properly educate, or to provide any alternative value-added skills to the majority of the black population.
They have, however, accommodated many of their undereducated and corrupt cadres in overpaid local, provincial, and national government positions - and we all know how that’s working out.
Forcing the same level of ignorance and incompetence on private enterprise will be disastrous for the economy. Education and skills development was, is, and always will be the key to sustainable transformation, and no amount of regulation will change that.
The real bottom line is that we are suffering from a politically induced societal sickness, and the promise of radical economic transformation is merely a placebo being fed to the poorest of the poor.
To relieve our present malaise, whether it involves mismanaged and bankrupt SOE’s, corrupt and incompetent provinces, mismanaged and corrupt government ministries, or Jacob Zuma’s single-handed “Rape of the Nation”, we have to stop trying to treat the multiple symptoms of this sickness individually.
There is an underlying and ultimate cause of all our ills, which is clear if you think through just two of the more obvious political issues shown below: (Clue: the answer is not Jacob Zuma, nor is it the ANC).
1. How is it possible that Jacob Zuma can still be President after breaching his oath of office?
2. How is it possible that this single individual also retains the power to frighten us with a threat to cabinet-shuffle the country into economic meltdown, while all we can do is stand by and watch?
If you are still not sure of the answer, then interrogate the ANC circus surrounding Brian Molefe’s appointment as a Member of Parliament, and see if that helps the penny to drop.
The answer is that the common source of all our political ills lies in a little book called “The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa”. Justifiably admired the world over for its human rights objectives it does, however, contain a single but singularly important legislative defect.
Our proportional representation electoral system makes a mockery of democracy as we have absolutely no say in the selection of individuals who are “deployed” to parliament. Our vote for a political party serves only to give that party absolute power over their “deployees”. In the case of Brian Molefe, factions within the ANC loyal to Jacob Zuma have manipulated the party list system so that yet another unsuitable candidate can be “deployed” to parliament - and there is seemingly nothing we can do about it.
We are reaping the sour fruits of a system that provides fertile ground for an unscrupulous politician who is a master at exploiting the politics of patronage. The Guptas could not capture the state without the head of state first capturing parliament. The legislative defect in our electoral system has made this ambition all too easy to accomplish, and again there is seemingly not a damn thing we can do about it.
Repeated successes in the courts, including the Constitutional Court, will not cure this systemic sickness. Such court judgments are like yellow cards in sport, except in this arena the demagogue can receive an infinite number of them without ever being “sent off”.
It is time for radical transformation of our electoral system to include constituent accountability as a predominant requirement. We must have direct influence over who represents us in Parliament, and perhaps even have a direct say in who should be our President.
It is also time to introduce meaningful sanctions against those who break their oath of office. There is absolutely no point in having such an oath if it can be broken with impunity.
While I have been vocal in my aversion to all forms of proportional representation, and remain very much in favour of a constituency accountability approach, after some serious rethinking I have come to the conclusion that what we need is a sensible combination of constituency and proportional representation. Not the 50/50 approach used for local government elections as all this does is double the number of pointless politicians, but a balance that favours constituency accountability without completely silencing the voices of a minority.
I was trained to hope for the best while planning for the worst, so at best we can hope that the DA ousts the ANC in 2019, and at worst we must plan for another Zuma to be in the driving seat. But no matter who is in control, we remain exposed to what can be called “the Zuma syndrome” until the system is changed, and we cannot afford to delay taking corrective action in the vague hope that alles sal reg kom.
The biggest challenge is to dispel a predominant belief that it is impossible to change the constitution, even if it is to effect what will essentially be a more democratic political dispensation; and the biggest tragedy will be if we don’t even try. We must move beyond bemoaning our predicament in the comments sections of various on-line publications, and become proactive in the movement for change.
If you are still among those who think it will be impossible, remember that it was our national hero, Nelson Mandela, who said “It always seems impossible until it is done”, and let this simple statement change your mindset. After all, to again quote Edward de Bono, “what is the point of having a mind if you can’t change it?