Sunday, March 29, 2009

Are you a blind ANC follower?

This week has seen more about the potential dropping of corruption charges against the ANC president and the debacle regarding the refusal of a visa for the Dalai Lama (and here).

It is sad reading the articles quoting Finance Minister Trevor Manuel (and here) and Foreign Minister Nkosazana Zuma - I believe any objective, vaguely intelligent person would see the glaring hypocrisy in the ANC's stance with regard to the Dalai Lama. A liberation organisation that fought for freedom of speech and the right to disagree - banning a visit because of the SA state's relationship with China and its endorsement of the One-China policy? The ANC continues to ignore the flagrant human rights abuses of China, Burma, Zimbabwe and others. Its position seems dictated by "pro-non-west" policy rather than thoughtful interrogation of what is right.

It would seem that the ANC would rather turn a blind eye to the ZANU murder of thousands and continued state sponsored violence in Zimbabwe than be embarrassed by the failure of an African leader.

Similarly they would turn a blind eye to the oppression of opposition to the Burmese military dictatorship.

And they would ignore the detention and murder of Tibetan activists in China.

The hypocrisy and arrogance is embodied in their leadership by a man (Jacob Zuma) who talks of having "laws that bite" and cracking down on corruption - but has pulled every legal option available to avoid going to court - including threatening to make public tapes embarrassing the former president Mbeki and the National Prosecuting Authority (and here).

Let's make this clear. I am sure I speak on behalf of almost all objective South Africans when I say that all those guilty of wrong should be prosecuted without fear or favour. If Mbeki knew of the arms deal corruption, he too should be prosecuted. If the NPA generally, or Leonard McCarthy specifically, were politically motivated in their actions, they should be prosecuted.

It is only when all believe they will be equally prosecuted before the law that all will equally abide by it. The best example of the consequences of a group believing they deserve different treatment is the behaviour of taxi drivers in South Africa - people who disregard the law because they believe they stand apart.

I can't believe the ANC and their supporters fail to see the hypocrisy. During apartheid they implored the world to give them a voice they were denied at home. Denying the Dalai Lama the same opportunity seems to be in their collective blind spot.

Further, the ANC response lends credence to the rumour that their denial of the visa was ordered by China - an order more weighty through funding of the ANC election campaign by the Chinese government.

Even over the past few months, any disagreement from within their own ranks has conveniently become treasonous. Witness the response to Minister Hogan's criticism of the Dalai Lama scandal and this letter from Duncan Hindle - "The individual should not criticise the collective." Anyone for the return of Stalinism perhaps? Merely a few months back, anti-Mbeki sentiment within the ANC was excused under the headline, "The ANC is a broad church and has room for many opinions." Even more recently, Malema's rantings are excused as being those of a young man who would one day know better.

Sadly it is the ANC supporters that give rise for the most concern. The rabid unquestioning support visible in comments below every article about any of the above-mentioned issues would seem as racist and unquestioning as that of the conservative supporters under apartheid.

It reminds me of the result of the unquestioning support from the West provided to Idi Amin in his rise to power. Murmurings of his abuses were swept under the carpet as the west saw someone they thought they could control. As his power grew, the monster threw off his minders and the result was clear for all to see. Similarly, the Matabeleland murders by Mugabe and his followers were allowed to be covered up. The result is again clear to see.

If we are to enjoy the hard won successes of the liberation struggle, then it is each of our responsibilities to question all leaders and representatives equally. If we call what is right or wrong without partisanship, we stand stronger together. If we have the security to ensure our leaders are defined by us rather than us being defined by our leaders, we need not fear their failure making us less worthy.

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