I am a counter-revolutionary too, Mr Mantashe

Dear Gwede

You seem to have a habit of attacking anything that poses a threat to your lord-and-master’s accession to power. First it was the Scorpions; now the judiciary. Of course I can’t really blame you — a lot is riding on the gravy train that departed from Polokwane last December, and I dare say you’re dead-scared that if it derailed, then so would your chances to stuff your pockets at the buffet in the dining car.

Forgive the train metaphors. I’m a man of the people, you see — I use Metrorail. Perhaps when you’re next in Cape Town you can forgo the limo for once and come with me to see how the other 99% get to work. Not that they all use trains, of course (which is just as well — it’s quite a squeeze as it is). Oh, and be warned: there’s no buffet — or dining carriage, for that matter.

But I’m getting off the track. Sincere apologies. Grovelling open letters from frightened whiteys trying to fawn favour with the post-Polokwane bigwigs are meant to be short, punchy and polite.

So. We were talking about those scurrilous, counter-revolutionary forces, weren’t we? I am fearful that you underestimate the size and determination of this gutter dirt. Rumour has it that counter-revolutionaries come in all shapes and sizes: they cross ideological boundaries, are male and female, black and white (and sometimes even Chinese … sorry, I mean “coloured”). They are rich and poor — and somewhere in between. They are old, young, employed, unemployed, literate, illiterate (some are MPs, you see).

To help you identify them, I’ve compiled a description of the archetypal counter-revolutionary. Perhaps once you’ve rounded them all up you can get Malema to sort them out — figuratively and “in context”, of course. And failing that, I know dear old Vavi’s always game for a bit of umshini practice.

But, without further delay, here is what a counter-revolutionary is:

  • We believe in democracy.
  • We believe that our Constitution is of greater importance than any political movement — even if that movement happens to have liberation cred (after all, so does Zanu-PF and look at how fascist they are).
  • We believe that no politician is infallible, and that democratic accountability’s checks and balances need to apply to all those in power.
  • We believe in the independence of the judiciary and that judicial processes should occur without political interference.
  • We believe in genuine, sustainable socioeconomic transformation that will uplift the previously oppressed. The self-enrichment of a money-grubbing few (whether they be aligned to Mbeki or Zuma is irrelevant) does not pass muster.
  • We believe in the importance of a robust political opposition — from both right and left.

Oops. Did I just say “we”? I’ve rather let the cat out of the bag, haven’t I? You see, my dear Gwede, I — like millions of other South Africans — am a counter-revolutionary.

Bring it on.

Your humble servant,

Alex Matthews


1 Comment

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One response to “I am a counter-revolutionary too, Mr Mantashe

  1. Perhaps it is too simple to suggest that the Mantashe comment only reflects a desire to stuff one’s pockets with money. Although, to paraphrase Raymond Suttner, “Polokwane was primarily a battle over loot” I think there are also deep-seated issues over the way in which power is wielded, rather than merely patronage.

    I think the notion of “vanguardism” is more appropriate in this context. Vanguardism causes leaders to believe that they alone speak on behalf of the toiling masses. Their struggles for liberation are fueled by the righteous knowledge that they have access to and can lead society towards the perfect conception of “the good”.

    However, this desire is inconsistent with governing a plural liberal democracy. Although the ANC has fought for justice in the past, they clearly believe they have a monopoly on truth. This tendency should be resisted wherever possible.

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