This past Sunday the City Press in its now-standard orchestrated narrative of Zuma hate forewarned us to expect the Anglican Church Archbishop Makgoba’s Christmas address, which obviously was synchronised with the spirit of the City Press of a Zuma recall. As campaigns usually lead, Makgoba did not fail; he used his Christmas address at the St Georges Cathedral to publicly campaign if not instruct the ANC to remove the SA president. His exact words “I cannot see how two centres of power – one centred on the party and the other on the State – can collaborate when their values seem diametrically opposed to one another.”
He went further to instruct the ANC under Ramaphosa to “make a clean break with the past” therefore recall Zuma with a “carefully targeted cabinet reshuffle”.
Makgoba justifies his deductions and instructions with, “Our economy is floundering, unemployment is rising and those cohorts of corruption who see they are losing influence are making ever more desperate attempts to loot what they can before their party is over. On top of that, the many divisions in the ANC have led to a paralysis in decision-making and the implementation of policy. It is time to say,’ Enough is enough’.”
We are not sure if this was the designated homily for the day or a mere comment, though he did this from the pulpit.
Anglican Archbishop Makgoba no stranger to our public discourse, used his Christmas address to his Anglican Church of SA denomination, a section of the Christian Faith community in SA, often wrongly assumed as the final authority and voice of the Christian church. Makgoba is entitled to his opinions and we cannot deny him that. However, using the pulpit to share his personal political views could be challenged as perhaps not befitting.
Let us not forget it is Makgoba who made his choice for a personality as a saviour of SA and it’s economy a long time ago when he chose to lead his church to offer selective prayers for then-finance minister Pravin Gordhan. He proved consciously selective to render Gordhan a victim that warrants protection in the heavenly realm from an enemy in a 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 or calling for prayers for the president as his Sacred Text (1Timothy 2:1-4) instructs him to do. He, therefore, proves strangely selective in his theological prism on the emphatic instruction to pray for those in power, which among others includes the president. Makgoba’s Christian ethic is questionable when he can find the president unworthy of his prayers when he in unsolicited fashion offers to extend prayers for Gordhan and others.
Makgoba in his Christmas address enters the debate of the two-centres (Party and State) of power hypothesis and categorically claims these cannot work together for their seeming diametrically opposed values. His analysis, therefore, concludes a State that is corrupt and a party that is incorruptible. We must surmise he has declared the Party overnight under Ramaphosa incorruptible and the State under Zuma as corrupt. He does not afford us any evidence for this conclusion. The illogic with his analysis is that he apparently forgets that Zuma and Ramaphosa in president and deputy for both Party and State led the party and state until December 19. It goes without saying if the claim of corruption is levelled against Zuma the entire Party leadership especially those who served with him in the office-bearer positions are tagged with that as well.
Makgoba also forgets that Ramaphosa makes up the second in charge of this so-called corrupt State, with the designated area of government business, Ramaphosa cannot be absolved from the levelled claims of a corrupt State. Makgoba finds strange comfort to suddenly exonerate the Party from this corrupt leadership when he knows the elections delivered a mixed slate where half of the slate daily stands accused of the infamous ‘Gupta’ corruption as led by some in the media. Makgoba’s analysis of two centres of power, with diametrically opposing values, is critically flawed and perhaps armchair analysis, yet rather loud as from one who wears a cassock who pontificates from the Christian church pulpit in an attempt at directing the ANC.
When Makgoba uses the words ‘our economy’, we must ask how is the ‘our’ made up? The South African economy in its current form, size, and shape confirms the reality of a white identity that controls it in monopoly with a few black elites ever to happy to sit at the table of this racialised economy as tokens of self-interest. It is also an economy that refuses to make the masses count. It was never an economy of the people, where the interests of the poor prevailed. It is and remains an economy of white privilege that potentially sponsors the foundations of some like Makgoba and others. We must remind Makgoba that this economy will only be ours when the masses can share in it inequality.
If Makgoba strives to speak on behalf of the poor, why has he hitherto remained silent on the gross injustice of an inherited and entrenched racialized economy? It is the same Archbishop Makgoba who failed to call billionaire Johan Rupert to order when he reduced the adopted ANC policy of Radical Economic Transformation to a mere formula for the looting of state coffers. For the record, the ANC ‘s 54th Conference unequivocally instructed its leadership to give effect to RET and land redress among a few critical issues.
In an earlier season, Makgoba invoked the poor as the ones that would suffer because Gordhan was offloaded. Makgoba shared that statement when the much made of the threat of SASSA non-payment of the most vulnerable of society came to nought 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 finds it not odd that the Sassa grant debacle may have been a political football initiated by those who had vested political interest in testing the political base of the ANC and its former president.
Makgoba, therefore, does not afford himself the space to be critical in questioning all politicians and business in a sense of equality for their respective motives, good, bad, and ugly in the definition. The truth is for Makgoba like so many who share his mind it’s not even about the reshuffle it’s about the firing of one individual. We do not hear Makgoba condemn those guilty of the Steinhoff corruption. We do not hear Makgoba condemn those implicated in the Mandela Funeral R300million corruption where fingers are pointed at Mcebisi Jonas, among others. We cannot choose to call some corrupt when we lack the courage others whom we share relations with.
Makgoba is not sensitive to the reality that the 54th Conference in elections outcomes is an attempt at unity, this unity is and remains fragile and in a sense dictates that the ANC president did not come to power by an overwhelming majority, neither does he unilaterally control the top six or the NEC for him to willy-nilly and quickly remove a sitting president without severe ramifications for both party and state. It baffles the mind that the political agenda of Makgoba appears more important than anything. He ties the fate of the poor in a strange narrative to this decision.
We will remember that Makgoba told us the poor would suffer because a politician (Gordhan) in his second coming was fired. Therefore his ideas and an instruction of a carefully targeted cabinet reshuffle in this season may confirm a blindness of loyalty to his favourite politician. Clearly, Makgoba disregards the fact that we have a treasury with a new political leadership and ministry team. He inadvertently told us back then Malusi Gigaba will fail the poor and cannot be trusted to look after the poor.
Lastly, Makgoba is seemingly oblivious to the reality of what a Mbeki recall in damage did to the party, he takes comfort that his views on a Zuma recall is generally endorsed by ANC members. He, therefore, underestimates the potential impact of a Zuma recall on the ANC in like fashion. It is exactly that painful reality of factionalism and personality cult practices that the delegates at this recent conference red carded when they opted to work for unity in rejecting even Ramaphosa’s slate dubbed the winning team.
Makgoba inserts himself into this Zuma recall debate and with this exerts undue pressure on the newly elected ANC leadership in a reckless and ill-advised sense.
Clyde N. Ramalaine