Scenes of chaos inside the Amabhungane event in Braamfontein. Picture: Weekly Xposé.

In The News Opinion

Sies! My impressions of the Amabungane event chaos

A disillusioned Clyde Ramalaine reflects on his experience at the Inside The GuptaLeaks event last night. Ramalaine left sad and angry that disruptions, and what he calls righteousness from both sides, prevented him from engaging the organisers of the event.
I attended the publicised amaBhungane town hall meeting organized for tonight at 4th Floor, Livity House, 73 Juta Street Braamfontein which was suppose to start as scheduled from 6pm. By 6h30 we had not yet started.
However, the event was delayed due to the facilitator Bongani Bingwa being caught up in Sandton traffic, as we were informed. Not long after that a group of toyi-toying people and singing individuals entered the venue and it did not take long for temperatures to rise.
From where I was sitting it became clear that we would not have an ordinary meeting where the questions some of us had prepared to engage amaBhungane on the Guptaleaks would be entertained.
What sparked the disruption is the fact that a seated Andile Mngxitama of BLF was at the back in the centre of the venue. A white individual came from the far left side and attacked Mngxitama, telling him to “stop his bullshit”. A scuffle ensued and the event was derailed when the group continued their singing of struggle songs and taking the event over.
Bingwa the facilitator finally made his grand entrance and the event was going to go ahead according to amaBhungane. He hastily began by introducing the panelist, during this Mngxitama rose and interjected to ask how the facilitator who came late could just go on since he was attacked by a white man and no apology was extended, yet the event was proceeding as normal.
To this in my view an insensitive Bingwa, to rapturous applause of the media present, told Mngxitama if he was aggrieved he should go to the police station and lay a charge. This was not well received by the group and we saw fingers pointed in Bingwa’s face as the shouts of sell-out reverberated through the venue.
Prior to Bingwa’s entrance a gentleman in what I call sensibility approached the convener and registered the fact of the injustice served upon Mngxitama, his suggestion was for the conveners to save the event by simply apologising for what had happened when someone attacked Mngxitama. I stood by to listen to the conversation and added that we want the event to continue because we as concerned citizens have an interest to understand amaBhungane, its mandate, and its role in the political landscape, since some of us believe amaBhugane is an active biased role player.
I approached Bingwa and apprised him of what happened prior to his arrival. I informed him that his approach might have been wrong since he was unaware of what had happened prior to his arrival. I pleaded with him to appreciate that an injustice was served upon Mngxitama and the event could be saved. Bingwa was going to have none of that and proved hell-bent on being right until I told him, you have won the debate after all it’s your event. I than thanked him and walked away.
The event eventually petered out to a makeshift gathering by the time I left a small crowd of die-hards continued. Needless to say, of the speakers at this confused ending, was Thandeka Qubule who misses no opportunity to remind us all that she is part of the group of “SABC 8”. She took the microphone to address those of us who remained while Mark Heywood played security at the gate. I have long concluded Qubule is not willing to be engaged because she appears to have earned the right to own the word “victim” for her role in the SABC journalist drama. I heard her in that same vein at the Charles Nqakula book launch at UJ last month. She perhaps gives meaning to the construct of victimology as coined by McWhorter.
Qubule advised those who remained behind to pen an open letter to the UN on the danger of what journalists are subjected to in democratic South Africa. Qubule then in irrational sense chose to direct her accusation and anger against what she termed as the ‘ruling party’. According to Qubule’s logic the ‘ruling party’ must own up to this disruption of the meeting. She in irrationality never explained her logic for such conclusion, needless to say she was rather emotional, not crying but worked up when she leveled these claims.
I stood there in the failed meeting and a sense of sadness befell me, a sadness that again recognised how deeply divided we are as a society. We are a society that so easily confirms others and ourselves in binaries of right and wrong. We easily claim a moral high ground over others.
Last night I stood amongst those who are called the fourth estate, the media, and realised their anger is no different to the toy-toying group that showed up. We are and remain a nation torn in what we simplistically define ourselves as victims.
Tonight it was the BLF accusing the media and the media accusing the BLF. We saw the same violence and disrespect for each other and the brimming anger will linger long in my memory. The equal shouting match confirmed also another dimension tangible in race, yes binaries of white and black. What is indisputable is tonight on the one hand you had a predominantly white-led meeting and the protesters essentially with a black identity.
South Africa remains a divided society, a society that has not yet dealt with its history of appropriating a discredited race that defines the totality of its citizenry. I stood aghast and again understood why I could always shared a grave discomfort for the glib adoption of the myth of rainbowism prognosticated, which clearly was sidetracking us at a crucial time when we needed to talk about that which really divides and defines us out of a history of the toxic combination of colonialism and apartheid.
Last night we saw essentially white journalists fully persuaded they are right, that they have the moral high ground, and they are in attempt of saving South Africa. That they are the natural custodians of our constitutional democracy. On the other hand you have blacks that claim that same moral high ground to call out the media in its hypocrisy of defending white monopoly capital. Yet they choose to disrupt a meeting they did not convene. They question this unending energy, false morality and unbiased agenda of this segment of the media that refuses to engage the fullness of a claim of state capture beyond its narrow and convenient Gupta identity.
I left and wondered where all this will end, how all this will end? Will we eventually arrive at a place of acknowledging our wrongness on both sides, will we arrive at a place to hear each other beyond our deep-seated racial hate and sheer disdain for one another. Can someone tell amaBhungane and the BLF you do not mislead us, we see through your hypocrisy and its glaring, neither of you can claim to lead our discourse because neither of you are free from your own narrow interest.
I am afraid I came to the sobering conclusion our media remains highly political, heavily politicised and racially divided and one-sided in its obsession of proving state capture from a convenient corner. The few black faces of the media present confirmed the reality that some in the media are now entrenched in its conviction that it’s their right to play victim, bully, and equally direct society whilst they are victims.
I didn’t see a media last night. I saw a political conviction at play, you saw it when Mark Heywood stood in the face of Andile Mngxitama and each attempted giving each other the stare of death, in boyish and childish contest.
I simply did not see right and wrong last night, as it is easily claimed. I saw wrong and wrong. I saw last night that we have a mighty mountain to scale unless we choose to be become honest and leave our victimology games. I am afraid neither the media / AmaBhungane or those who disrupted the event categorized as BLF are my heroes, they are both obsessed and driven by a political agenda less in honesty of making South Africa democracy stand, but to irrationally and arrogantly hypocritically claim moral high grounds that they both do not deserve.
Sies amaBhungane, sies BLF! Both of you are not helping our democracy, you again spit on it because your obsession to be right denies us our rightful opportunity to engage you in asking you perhaps unsettling questions. Your mutual actions denied some of us to question the deafening and convenient silence on the internal audit report of the Treasury, the non-appetite to engage the challenge of the PIC investing R1,1bn on a dilapidated oil refinery in Maputo despite this information being in the public domains for months now, this when red flags on a PIC bailout for SAA are raised.
So what was my one question tonight for amaBhungane? – I might as well post it here and now!
We must ask why a non-profit entity like amaBhungane, with its unequivocal prognosticated goals, finds natural comfort to prove uncritical of our convenient binary context and narrative that casts some, be it media or politicians, as evil while others are angels.
From what comfort is this conviction drawn? This interesting conclusion and rhetoric has been peddled for years now and it has for some become the truth, only because it is so often repeated by those who have access to resources and claim a fourth estate right of being the media.
The challenge remains, we do not know why some media outlets and politicians are natural demons and others are natural angels? Does this not confirm the biased political agenda of amaBhungane?
What is the political agenda endgame of amaBhungane with these leaks, is their attaining of the Guptaleaks which some legal specialist already concluded is not admissible in any court of law not the new license to obtain information illegally in violation of all laws only because you believe you can prove it?
What will our society look like after these Guptaleaks, will we also now justify leaks of other business families in SA who no different to the Guptas share close proximity to former and present political leadership? How far will this go and how does this help the South African society?
I may never be able to attend another amaBhungane Guptaleaks event because I left convinced the media – at least of those amaBhungane camp – is as captured as the claim Andile Mngxitama is.
Again sies! I wonder if they both ended up tonight at a shebeen and boasted how they got the better of each other.
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
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