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« Apartheid South Africa, Not Israel | Main | Shanah Tovah - Happy New Year »

September 07, 2007



Maybe you should get some other source of news than just CNN if you want a true picture of what has gone on over the years in that other democracy.

"9 Members of Congress Who Should Resign Right After Larry Craig"

Joel Pollak

This is a great piece, but you're too hard on the opposition. It's not just the weak opposition that allows the ANC to do what it wants. It's the fact that the ANC governs according to the Stalinist tradition that the Party knows all and the Party can do no wrong. What we are seeing in the Manto scandal is the ANC's brutal powerlust in its rawest form. It is also linked to Mbeki's desire to retain control of the party and outflank all challengers in advance of the party conference this December. Losing Manto would make him look weak and would encourage his rivals. Therefore this is a fight to the death for Mbeki and his cronies.

Allow me to cut and paste from an excellent article at

By Paul Trewhela

The business about an ANC 'tradition' of non-canvassing of candidates for party president sounds very suspect to me (but I don't know what the state of affairs was pre-Sixties). From the beginning of the exile period in the early Sixties, after the presidency of Luthuli, there were no candidates, period, for any office in the NEC, until the Kabwe conference of 1985 (and then the delegates were pre-selected anyway). Up to that time, there were only appointees. The Kabwe conference, in turn, only came about because of the mutiny in the ANC in Angola the previous year, in which one of the mutineers' principal demands was for a democratic conference. By the time this travesty of democracy took place at Kabwe, the ANC members who had most seriously raised the issue of a democratic conference had been tortured, imprisoned in Quatro, or executed. So the 'tradition' of the ANC on this subject is deeply undemocratic. For about 25 years up to 1985, all positions were appointed from above; then the Kabwe conference of 1985 was rigged; then a fake 'tradition' was invented, in order to hide the continued practice of party-list appointment of delegates from above. The one time in the period of the exile that a real democratic election in the ANC did take place - in Tanzania, in September 1989 - the ANC Nomenklatura which continued intact after the Kabwe conference forcibly dissolved the elected committees, because the NEC did not like the individuals whom the members had elected. That is the real 'tradition' in the ANC.

What had happened is that, given the opportunity of a genuinely free election, ANC members in Tanzania elected "mutineers" who had only recently emerged from Quatro, and who had most insistently posed the challenge of democracy to the NEC. It is very likely that something similar could have happened in Zambia too, had the unbanning of organisations and the release of Mandela not happened when they did. Discontent in Zambia in 1989 among Umkhonto weSizwe troops withdrawn from Angola was of a very similar kind to that in Tanzania.

The current palaver about 'tradition' is simply smoke in the eyes of the uninstructed, to conceal the old, old Stalinistic practice of secret, manipulative control by ANC party bosses. Generally speaking, democracy in the ANC up to now was and is a sham. As the mutineers said in Angola in 1984, the first article of the Freedom Charter - 'The people shall govern' - should begin first of all within the ANC itself. But that is still a long way off. A proper pro-democracy movement within the ANC is still in its infancy, and remains very weak.

It is probable that internal leaders from the United Democratic Front, the Mass Democratic Movement and the trade unions were simply hoodwinked by the exile apparatus concerning this 'tradition' spoof after its return in 1990, and have tamely gone along with it, either out of ignorance or because they haven't felt confident enough to call the bluff of Mbeki's cabal. Zuma himself is so much also a son of the apparatus from the exile period that he hasn't come clean about it either: a prisoner of his own Stalinist past, and also of his more able party rival for the presidency, Mbeki.


I like the comparison to the US. If this happened in the US or UK, she would be asked to step down without any question. If she is a thief and a false pretence, it doesn't really matter what her past history is. She is not fit to stand in government and she should be fired.

No question this would happen in a true democracy.


Joel I am sorry it came across that way. I don’t believe that the opposition in South Africa is at fault. Given their limited support bases, I think political parties like the DA have done extremely well. Civil society has also shown its teeth. The problem is that none of this counts when there is no risk that the ANC can lose an election. The problem is not the opposition but the nature of politics in South Africa.

I know that both Tony Leon and Helen Ziller have spoken extensively about moving away from race/ethnic based politics. Until that happens the ANC will continue to become more authoritarian.

For what its worth, I think that social/value based issue are the key.


Sunday Times to be banned by Government:

This news sounds awefully similiar to a close neighbour of us?


... and opposition members arrested during protests


South Africa is 'IN' with the best of them.
Just take a look at this from Belgium:

"The Belgian Council of State (CoS) has ordered the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reinstate Pierre-Dominique Schmidt as Belgian ambassador to Paris. Two weeks ago, the ambassador was recalled to Brussels after a bank discovered that he had forged Foreign Office documents in order to obtain bank loans to pay for his luxurious life style. The homosexual ambassador had been throwing regular private disco and drag parties costing up to 75,000 euros. "

It is the fashion nowadays.

"Schmidt’s lawyer is an associate of the law firm of Marc Uyttendaele, the husband of Laurette Onkelinx, the Belgian minister of Justice. Mrs Onkelinx, who is a leading PS politician, is responsible for appointing, promoting and suspending judges in Belgium. Her husband hardly ever loses court cases. That is, of course, because he is such a good lawyer."

Read it all.


I still find it perplexing that Mbeki chooses to retain someone who is not only an embarassment to the movement but is also increasingly becoming a liability. It is the same with his AIDS denialism. Whether you look at it from a capitalist perspective or a socialist perspective, it just does not make sense. I have read Ronald Suresh Roberts'account of the AIDS debacle and remain completely unenlightened. RSR too, is an enemy of reason. Any new perspectives out there?


Garibaldi, I think it’s all ideological. Common sense has nothing to do with it.

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