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Big deal. Why is anyone surprised?
This is a political environment where xenophobic attacks go unpunished, where a veiled call for genocide gets the blessing of the Human Rights Commission. Political opponents are defamed, abused and threatened, while the Independent Election Commission sits with folded hands.
The latest incident just provides more evidence of the obvious: the ANCYL and EFF share the same DNA. It is, after all, EFF leader Julius Malema, who when former president Jacob Zuma was under fire like Ace is now, threatened to “kill for Zuma”.
It is, admittedly, admirable that the old-guard ANC stalwarts have expressed disapproval over the ANCYL’s undemocratic behaviour. As a result, and with instructions from above, the Free State book-burning has been cancelled or – much like Julius’s threatened genocide – postponed, for now. As the ANC’s Free State spokesperson, Sello Pietersen, earnestly explained. “When the ANC spoke we listened.” In other words, the Constitution’s provisions on freedom of expression mean nothing, but when Luthuli House speaks, they’ll fall grumbling into line. While the book-burning is off, it’s not clear about the burning at the stake. Whether the threats to tear Myburgh from limb to limb if he dares set foot in the Free State are similarly rescinded has not been specified.
This schizophrenia – the ANC’s right hand slapping its own left wrist in feigned rebuke – is a well-worn but an effective tactic. Eventually the dissonance between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde will cause a permanent rupture, but for now it works wonderfully.
It makes it possible for two ideologically incompatible but evenly matched parties, engaged in a perpetual struggle for mastery of the ANC, to co-exist under a single roof. It will continue until one bests the other, or the electorate tires of the arm-wrestling, at which point the ANC may split.
This is what makes absurd the suggestion that South Africans who have previously voted for opposition parties should “support” President Cyril Ramaphosa’s faction against former president Jacob Zuma’s faction on May 8. On the ballot there is only one ANC and it shelters not only candidates implicated in criminality, but hardline revolutionaries to old-style liberals.
The choice, then, is between voting for none or for all. Every vote is shared equally between those factions, and the alliance, the SACP and Cosatu. So one can delude oneself, but a “Ramaphosa” vote is equally a “Zuma” vote. The only way to influence a political party is either to join and seek to change it internally, or to indicate your disapproval by voting against it, or not at all.
It is only when the governing ANC alliance is punished at the polls that ANC behaviour will change. Only then will riotous ANCYL office-bearers be suspended, face disciplinary hearings and ejected, if found guilty.
It is only when the ANC comprehends that the electorate is not entirely composed of gullible fools, that corrupt and disgraced candidates will no longer appear on ANC electoral lists, and the partisan behaviour of the SAPS will no longer be tolerated.
* Follow WSM on Twitter: @TheJaundicedEye
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.