My Take With Mbangwa Xaba

Today’s politics are stuff of legend. They bring to mind a conversation I had with my youngest son. He was only eight then.

He is autistic. And as anybody who has had the blessed pleasure of being in close interaction with these beautiful minds would tell you, they are very passionate about a subject or hobby they choose. With unequalled tenacity, they ferociously hold on to it like a bull terrier.

I am beguiled, bewildered and charmed by his steadfastness when he zooms in on a subject matter.

My boy is fascinated by wild life. His fascination is such that it has made him the Xaba household’s National Geographic channel.
Back then, at age eight he asked a question that had never crossed my mind.

“Why is the lion is called king of the jungle when it doesn’t even reside there?” he asked.

“Lions live in the African Savanna. Tigers are bigger, deadlier and live in the jungle. They are the ones that should be kings of the jungle,” he pointed out cynically, ignoring my obvious perplexity.

Recently, I find myself having to deal with folklore and fairy tales in our body polity in much the same way.

Take the story of former president Jacob Zuma for example. His parable has secured him a place very close to the lion’s monarchy. Zuma, as the story goes, singlehandedly collapsed South Africa’s economy by shepherding us towards rampant corruption. In fact, the story line has made him South Africa’s biggest problem, ever. And next to him stood the ‘helpless’ and ‘squeaky clean’ ANC.

The fact that we are in the front of the queue as the world’s most unequal society does not come close to the damage he has caused, even by an inch.

Even apartheid’s vile legacy, with its skilfully engineered racism, which bequeathed to us enormous poverty that continues to haunt and torment Africans, is no match to Zuma’s sins. Not even the plummeting economy and the ever-mounting levels of unemployment equals Zuma’s transgressions.

The Zuma story is comparable to the birthday of the prince of peace. Every December 25 we exuberantly engage in merriment littered with snow icons and decorations, knowing fully well that he was born in Bethlehem, in a desert in the Middle Easter. A prominent and horribly dressed potbellied old man from the North Pole is the symbol of all this revamped truth. He rides the world over on a sleigh pulled by flying deer, dropping gifts down the chimney, whether you have one or not.

The desire to accumulate profit, or put crudely – capitalism, has imaged the prince’s birthday that way.

Just like the lion king, the Zuma narrative is brought to us by the same crowd for the same reason.

In 1993 ahead of the negotiations to reshape apartheid into democracy, ANC NEC member and one of the party’s policy architects, Pallo Jordan, provided sufficient circumstantial evidence for my assertion.

He feistily objected to the ANC’s approach to the negotiations before the 1994 ‘watershed breakthrough.’ He faulted the leadership’s approach, especially Joe Slovo’s sunset clause, as being tantamount to a shift from the organisation’s strategic objectives.

He charged; “As I see it, the reality is that the regime’s objective – however defined – is to retain the essentials of white power – i.e., the accumulated, palpable privileges that the whites, as a dominant racial group, enjoy in terms ownership and control of the decisive sectors of productive property; domination of the civil service; control over the decisive organs of the state.”

Jordan argued that the dominant white privileged few were prepared to let Africans have access to political power, but they would frustrate “any attempts to tamper with these essentials of white power.”

He said, in essence that’s the contradiction because the “national liberation of the most oppressed and exploited was to precisely do exactly what the white power sought to preserve, tamper with the core institutions sustaining white power.”

Hence “to characterise this fundamental contradiction, this collision of basic interest, as ‘competition’ is to make nonsense, of the English language.”

With that, Jordan explained Zuma and the New Dawn.

He explained why Zuma was our biggest problem despite the persistently widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. He explained why the poor – the black majority are getting poorer (bar the well-connected and carefully chosen blacks here and there), and the rich – being majority white men, are getting richer. He explained why the New Dawn remains a meaningless public relations exercise.

The ANC’s departure from its strategic objective in 1993 paved the way to make it perfectly plausible to argue that white monopoly capital does not exist (since capital knows no colour); and that radical economic transformation is the imagination of some pro-Zuma thieves. These very nicks with fertile imagination are said to have instigated a yet to be proven ‘failed insurrection’ led by a has-been DJ and a caterer.

It may well be that the Zuma narrative (since foreign communist takeover, swaart gewaar, ANC’s one-party state scarecrows did not take off) has been in the making for the past 27 years.

Unlike the others, this time the Z-scarecrow worked well in that it thoroughly freaked out some hoity-toity Africans and the frazzled white elite. This success put the ANC into a whirlwind of compromises and intensification of factionalism which has been nothing but a welcomed blessing for the select economically powerful.

With fired up confidence, old money, which is white, can now sell us any type of twaddle. The fact that the previously disadvantaged continue to get poorer has become inconsequential. The lies are becoming more and more glaring.

A legal conundrum described as the world-renowned constitution, a one-sided reconciliation project aimed at the further subjugation of Africans became a National Braaivlies Day, right up to an illusionary rainbow nation. We swallowed it all hook, line and sinker.

Like the desert boy’s birthday which is celebrated in snow and Nonkosi’s doubtful lion royalty, there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow nation. I only see faces of dismay as white supremacy prevails while black poverty persists. As the fable fizzles out and loses its novelty, those with eyes should see that we were sold a castle in the sky and that the man from Kwadakwadunuse is being Samsonised.

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