ANC Watch

Arrogance bakes humble pie, ANC learns

Arrogance bakes humble pie

Sometimes the arrogant and pompous are forced to eat humble pie. Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans and chairman of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), Kebby Maphatsoe, learnt this lesson the hard way twice in one day.

Setbacks for the ANC in recent local elections and the renewed witch-hunt on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan overshadowed a high profile court case involving ANC stalwart and former Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, and Mr Maphatsoe. It also exposed the raging factionalism and deepening rift within the ANC. 

It was high drama when ex-minister Ronnie Kasrils announced he was suing Deputy Minister Maphatsoe for one million rand.

Kasrils felt aggrieved by a statement Maphatsoe made two years ago, saying Kasrils “handpicked” and gave instructions to a young woman‚ known as ‘Khwezi’‚ who in 2005 accused President Jacob Zuma of having raped her.

Kasrils strongly denied the accusation that he had any part in the matter and was adamant he had no involvement in what Maphatsoe, and President Zuma himself, described as attempted entrapment in a so-called ‘honey pot’ plot.

Kasrils said he went to court because he had been maligned by Maphatsoe calling him “the enemy of the people” and accusing him of working for “imperialist agencies” – a sore point for the former minister and senior Umkhonto we Sizwe operative of many years.

It was the arrogance of people such as Maphatsoe that prompted him to file the lawsuit, Kasrils said. He told journalists: “We need to put a stop to these people who‚ at the drop of a hat‚ point a finger at those who criticise the government and call them agents.”

A Zuma battering ram

With his fate closely linked to that of President Zuma, Maphatsoe will probably disappear from the political stage when Zuma vacates the presidency, fading into obscurity, only to be remembered for his outrageous remarks.

A former cook, Maphatsoe lost one arm in 1991 when shot by Ugandan troops while trying to escape from an ANC camp at Ngoma in Uganda.

He gained notoriety in September 2014 for accusing public protector Thuli Madonsela of being a spy paid by the US Central Intelligence Agency, saying she thought “she is God” and that “her actions leave us with no choice but to say it is those of enemy agents”.

Before the attack on Madonsela, the man, who by his own admission played no active role in the ‘armed struggle’ except for having, according to himself, “the important responsibility of preparing food for the combatants which required a high level security clearance”, once surprised many by lambasting another ANC veteran, Kadar Asmal.

He belittled Asmal by saying: “There is nothing that makes him an experienced cabinet member as the only track record he has of cabinet, is his failure and unprecedented blind loyalty.”

For a man who shows nothing but blind loyalty to Zuma, Maphatsoe’s attack on Asmal speaks volumes.

Maphatsoe once had many commuters on edge and security officials in dissary when, without prior warning, he announced that “terrorists were planning to attack the Gautrain”.

He once claimed that former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, and others who had criticised the Guptas, were supporting white-owned monopoly capitalism. Mentor, in response, accused him of pocketing R10 million from the Guptas, money intended to help MK veterans.

Although Maphatsoe rejected the accusation, the jury is still out regarding his alleged sharing in funds that were looted from the MKMVA coffers in 2012.

Maphatsoe’s insinuations that the MKMVA is the ANC’s private army and should act if and when necessary to protect the party and its senior officers, particularly Jacob Zuma, are dangerous and were criticised by among others Siphiwe Nyanda, himself a senior former MK member and a former chief of the South African National Defence Force and minister in Jacob Zuma’s cabinet.

Bravado short-lived

Maphatsoe’s bravado in the case of Kasrils was short-lived. On the second day of court proceedings, he raised the white flag. In an about-turn he retracted, and apologised, for all defamatory statements relating to Kasrils. He also admitted they were “false‚ offensive and unacceptable”. He and the MKMVA also agreed to pay R500 000 compensation to Kasrils.

On the same day, in another court, Maphatsoe also tasted defeat when a judge found in favour of a former MK member, Tshidiso Mokhoanatse‚ also known as Alex Mashinini, who took Maphatsoe and the ANC’s parliamentary chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, to court for defamation.

In 2013‚ Mokhoanatse/Mashini and other ex-MK members resigned from the ANC to establish the political party South Africa First (SAF), later renamed the Agency for New Agenda (ANA).

In response to this breakaway, both Maphatsoe and Mthembu made personal remarks about Mokhoanatse. The judge found the remarks defamatory, stating, “Maphatsoe has far overstepped the mark. He has attempted character assassination of Mokhoanatse merely because Mokhoanatse dared to follow a different path”.

Critical of Zuma

Excluding the pro-Zuma grouping, Kasrils has received wide support recently for his honest - some would say brave – admittance that the ANC has lost its moral compass and direction. 

He recently wrote in the Daily Maverick: “The whole country knows that a fish rots from the head. Every commentator worth their salt has marked up a long list of ANC sleaze starting with the greed, arrogance and corruption of Number One (Zuma) and his appointment of supine ministers and state officials who are there to do his bidding and engage in cover-ups and praise-singing while salting away their ill-gotten gains.”

Kasrils also warned: “The ANC will not find remedying its divisions and faults that easy, for to do so would require a revolution within the once proud movement of revolution. Factionalism and the unseemly struggle for positions are most likely to increase.”

It is obvious that recent events have been traumatic for Kasrils and he lamented in public the fact that his revolutionary credentials are questioned by someone like Maphatsoe who personifies an arrogance that has become the trademark of many in the ANC leadership.

This arrogance comes at a cost, as shown by the local election results. This cost will escalate if the ANC denies that arrogance exists, as Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa did when he tried damage control in the aftermath of the local election outcome.

How ironic that Kasrils, who survived, despite being on the ‘most wanted list’ of the apartheid government for most of his life, and served as deputy minister of defence and later the minister of intelligence in a democratic South Africa, had to tell the media after the court ruling that he and his family now live in fear of their lives.

The old French adage, “revolutions at times devour their own children”, seems to still have some relevance today, as recent developments around the ANC prove.

This time around, all the ex-liberation struggle cook succeeded to do, was to bake  humble pie for himself and his party.

by Garth Cilliers

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