The recent cabinet reshuffle, in particular the removing of the finance minister, is unfolding in many ways. We have seen corporate sponsored Save SA organising a sparsely attended march in Tshwane to register their rightful displeasure with the removal of SA’s former treasury team of minsters.
Not to be undone, the official opposition – the DA – was planning a march on Luthuli House for this coming Friday which they changed to Beyers Naude square; we don’t know what for. We have subsequently learnt that that the planned march is now called off and rerouted to Mary Fitzgerald square after submissions by Kenny Kunene and the ANC Security Cluster to the JMPD .
The claimed opposition, the EFF, has lodged a Constitutional Court case as a last attempt at attaining what it came into existence for, namely the removal of Jacob Zuma. We anticipate this EFF attempt will fall flat too, because the court cannot be seen to be ruling on political issues.
Equally, we must at all times afford South Africans their right to express their displeasure and opinions, after all that is what makes for a democracy. Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is therefore entitled to his opinion no different to any of us.
Makgoba is no stranger for his controversial, and as some say conveniently biased, views on SA political leadership. Makgoba categorically claims today that the reshuffle is an assault on the poor. Let us first understand Makgoba made his choice for a personality as saviour of SA and its economy a long time ago when he chose to lead his church to offer selective prayers for former finance minister Pravin Gordhan. He proved consciously selective to render Gordhan a victim that warrants protection in a heavenly realm from an enemy in the sitting president. These prayers were offered in stark exclusion of all other members of a democratic government, in particular the SA president. Makgoba has written many articles on the SA president’s leadership, which is also his right, but has hitherto failed to publicly admit ever praying for the president as his sacred text instructs him to do.
In this season Makgoba now invokes the poor as the ones that will suffer because Gordhan was offloaded. Makgoba makes this statement when the much-made-of threat of SASSA’s non-payment of the most vulnerable of society came to naught because the grants were paid out as always. Makgoba denied himself the opportunity to critically ask what sits behind the all-of-sudden created narrative of a plausibility of non-payment.
The learned and honourable bishop, and also vice-chancellor of one of my alma-maters, does not find it odd that the SASSA grant debacle may have been a political play initiated by those who have vested political interest in testing the political base of the ANC and its president. The poor, as we all know, is the ANC base and in particular this President’s base. He – for whatever reason known only to him – does not afford himself the space to question all politicians in a sense of equality for their respective motives. The truth for Makgoba, like so many who share his mind, is not even about the reshuffle, it’s about the firing of one individual. He ties the fate of the poor in a strange narrative to this decision.
Makgoba instead tells us today the poor will suffer because a politician in his second coming was fired. He, in blindness of loyalty to his preferred politician, disregards the fact that we have a Treasury with a new political leadership and ministry team. He therefore tells us Gigaba will fail the poor and cannot be trusted to look after the poor. It is this narrow thinking on the poor that leads one to ask why Makgoba would make such an assumption.
Makgoba, in convenience, is uncritical of how the economy has thus far served the poor. He sells us this doom prophecy with an anchor of his preferred politician and finance minister. He therefore, no different to other clergy, takes the liberty to empty his proverbial can of doom (the insect killer) in our ears because he assumes we do not think or see through this façade.
Archbishop Makgoba is yet to tell us how the poor were uniquely benefitting under the leadership of his preferred politician and finance minister. He must also still confide in us as to why he thinks the poor will do worse under the new Minister Gigaba.
It is perhaps time we ask what the political motives of Makgoba are, to have been this adamant in his biased and selective choice of respect for a democratic political leadership.
We do not hear Archbishop Makgoba offer prayers for Malusi Gigaba and Sfiso Buthelezi; we don’t hear him saying this is a moment for pensive reflection in prayer for healing the nation. We instead hear the Anglican Archbishop fueling the false narrative that the poor is worse off, because his favourite politician is no longer at the helm of Treasury.
He is oblivious to the rape inflicted by multinationals, the agony of multinationals that collude in corrupt practices against the poor. He is conveniently silent on the ever-increasing disparity of the rich and the poor. The challenge of an untransformed economy is not the concern of the cleric. The esteemed theologian is silent on the fixing of prices that works against the poor. He is yet to venture an opinion on the recent findings of Competition Commission. The Archbishop fails to ask his favourite politician to answer whether he benefited in a special pension scheme, if he was entitled to that pension and what his position was during the benefit.
He hardly takes the same liberty to rebuke the banks for their confirmed corruption. He has no opinion on the corrupt rating agencies for their criminal and repugnant practices that hurt the poor. Makgoba can’t call ABSA’s CEO and board to order; he sees no need to be public on the bank’s admitted role in corruption. The Archbishop’s singular focus has been a sitting president.
The archbishop is yet to say anything on Helen Zille’s colonialism comments, but the Archbishop is willing to lay his life down for his politician, the made messiah of our economy, the endangered species namely Saint Gordhan!
To Makgoba, we say the poor are not fooled. The poor were not uniquely served in benefit from a Gordhan leadership of the Treasury. Gordhan is a politician and he is hardly as angelic and pristine as we are made to believe in narrowness of a tangible agenda.
Archbishop, let us give effect to the biblical instruction to pray for those who have charge over us and leave the selectivity of our myopic political minds that affords us an adjudicatory role as bystanders in defence of personalities. You and I both, as members of the clergy, ought to pray for this President and all in leadership that we may live peacefully, if we hope to be true to our sacred text.
Clyde N. Ramalaine