In Response to City Press “Playing to the Big Man’s Tune” by Mondli Makhanya (September 24, 2017)
Mondli Makhanya remains a colourful commentator. We are in an exciting season of elections within the ANC. As to be expected we have all nailed our colours to the mast, commentators are not exempted, and hence Makhanya is entitled to his opinion. This week he took his aim at Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, one of two accepted front-runners for the top job of the ANC. Let us attempt to contradictions Makhanya and perhaps lay bare his own challenges.
Makhanya starts of with a choked out acknowledgement that Dlamini Zuma will do just fine. Maybe he should have ended there and realised he has nothing further to say because in an election season the fundamental point is do you believe the candidate will do a fine job or not?
Makhanya either proves dishonest with himself or engages in shallow patronizing of the person of NDZ.
He goes on to argue that seeing NDZ these days on the campaign trail makes him feel pity for as she since according to him her dignity is turned into a ridicule. There is a contradiction in this line of thinking too, he forgets that when candidates are in an election contest they firstly are more visible, secondly they get invited and create their own events to communicate their message to diverse audiences.
To therefore feel pity for NDZ being subjected to what he calls ridicule is to misunderstand the contested and volatile political space we find ourselves in as highly polarized society. According to Makhanya, NDZ is hauled around the country as an artefact or performing act. The irony of this is twofold, on one hand he disowns NDZ her human agency as an adult in full capacity and in charge of her own campaign in deciding what will work for her. At another level he claims she must be projected as presidential material, we not sure if Makhanya is confirming he is really rooting for a NDZ candidacy because it’s difficult to hear him as he is attempts balancing this self-crafted egg dance.
He finally conjures the courage to venture to explain himself in using her recent address at the Funeral Indaba. Makhanya in a sense of cheap comedy or ignorance seek to tell us NDZ addressed the dead. He misconstrues the audience and those who gathered and deny them as representative of an industry and economic sector that defines a value chain. Yes Mondli a sector that spans a confirmed number of areas financial, manufacturing, transportation, services etc, as NDZ rightly pointed out.
Makhanya either deliberately omits to let her clear message in call of transformation for this economic sector stand or he is mischievous to tell us she was speaking to the deceased and was hoping to have our collective deceased be transformed.
He is correct NDZ rightfully bemoans the currently reality of black business people in the sector as that of being reduced to the peripheral issues. Yet Makhanya misses the analysis NDZ does as to who really controls this sector. NDZ therefore has taken the time to understand the industry and economic sector as necessary for transformation and that transformation must adopt the ANC policy footprint of radical.
Makhanya continues his ambivalent celebration of NDZ in affording her the status of having pioneered some of the most progressive tobacco legislation in the world, transformed South Africa’s racialised health system and served admirably in three senior cabinet portfolios. These acknowledgements can nowhere be challenged, because Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has selflessly served and shown tremendous foresight to transform the health and Rupert owned tobacco industries.
It is Makhanya’s unsubstantiated claim that NDZ was made a ‘laughing stock by those that purport to love her’. We are not afforded the logical stretching of Makhanya’s thoughts because this claim stands as an incongruent after thought. He then proceeds to attempt a swipe at NDZ by proxy of Matthew Wolmarans who incidentally was also sworn in on the same the day. Why this is mentioned only Makhanya knows it’s best to let him tell us why he connects NDZ to Wolmarans in this setting and the relevance for such.
Finally he lays bare his own conspiracy theory, which he hitherto has struggled to give legs. His claim is “the duo’s deployment and hurried swearing in was part of a much bigger plan by the man at the top, she feigned ignorance when asked about her future role”. Let us pause here and unpack this claim.
‘Hurried swearing’ in, the ANC is within its rights to periodically as the need arises, within its own and national constitutional rules deploy its own no different to other parties to parliament. Again he must tell us why he thinks it’s hurried and what substantiates according to him a not hurried decision that confirms this to be hurried.
Towards the end repeats NDZ’s words “Well I have been informed by the office of the chief whip and the Secretary General of the ANC that I am coming here to be an MP. They have not told me anything else. As far as I am concerned, I am coming to parliament to be an MP. I am sworn in and that’s all I know”.
This categorical and straight answer from NDZ is then questioned by the conspiratorial mind of Makhanya. There is according to him a hatched plan orchestrated by a man above who has sanction this order to have NDZ in parliament for his optical reasons.
The illogic of this is taken to another level where Makhanya shows scant regard for how ANC members are deployed to parliament. He either does now know the organizational infrastructure to facilitate this, and who has mandate to instruct in directing the process for releasing members to serve as MP’s. He is completely oblivious shall we say in convenience to let that process stand as shared in the names of the Chief Whip and SG of the ANC.
Makhanya cannot close his clearly warped and empty article without firing his own salvo in pitting ANC leadership in factional claim when he claims NDZ is deceiving us all to let us think she will be at the beck and call of Jackson Mthembu and Gwede Mantashe, two individuals who strongly identifies with her main rival Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
This is such a low and unrelated matter from which the “playing to the Big Man’s tune” headline of the article is derived.
Makhanya thus with this musing tell us he is a fan of NDZ. Yet she cannot think for herself and is a puppet of a ‘big man’ whose name he for this one time in his musings lack the courage to mention. He says NDZ will not submit to the Chief Whip and Secretary General (institutions of organizational and parliament order) of the ANC, this is such a vacuous claim because she is confirmed as a long standing disciplined and selfless member and leader of the ANC. Makhanya like so many in our discourse denies NDZ her full human agency as a seasoned candidate for presidency despite the fact that he himself acknowledges her recognized history, credentials, and undeniable expertise in state affairs. He reduces her to be hauled around by people who make her a laughing stock.
I must conclude Mondli Makhanya with this bereft of true content meandering of incoherent attempt at opinion proves the male chauvinist he is and failed to make his argument that NDZ is not fit to be the 13th ANC president.
He has revealed he is really a closet fan, please tell Makhanya he can tell the world he has no confidence in Ramaphosa even the ANC affords all its members to express who they prefer to lead. Tell Makhanya his battle is between his two ears to rid himself of the false idea that woman are ready to lead and have a big man somewhere they is answerable to.
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine