It’s official! I now regard myself as not African. This is simply because I agree with the DA’s Lindiwe Mazibuko on her condemnation of our first citizen’s latest irresponsible statement. It seems that anyone who opposes or even questions the ANC’s and President Jacob Zuma’s utterances is being labelled “un-African”. When Mazibuko asked Zuma to explain what he meant by stating that any business person who supported the ANC would see his or her business multiply, ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu called her un-African.
He said that her complaint had been inspired by a lack of knowledge about, and disrespect for, African culture and tradition.
This is outrageous: it seems to suggest there’s a connection between African culture and investing in the ANC. Worse, it implies that corruption is an African culture and tradition. Otherwise, how does one explain the recent awarding of a lucrative Johannesburg City Power tender to the president’s old friend Vivian Reddy?
Or the lengths to which City Power’s managing director is alleged to have gone to ensure that Reddy’s company, Edison Power, bagged the tender? Even more dodgy is the fact that the tender, while being contended for by another company, stood at R800 million. But after this competitor was eliminated, the amount suddenly shot up to R1,25 billion. It is public knowledge that Zuma and Reddy are close and that their relationship has involved plenty of favours. Part of being African, I suppose.
Obviously the competitor was not an African, otherwise the contract would have been split two ways as is common practice with large deals such as this. And in the same week, there were reports that state companies had sponsored millions of rands towards business breakfasts organised by The New Age, a newspaper owned by the politically connected Gupta family.
The same ‘African culture and tradition’ is one reason that land reform is in such a mess. People close to the ANC have received farms and support they don’t need, while worthy beneficiaries with proper farming credentials have been sidelined on farms with no support at all because they are not practising ‘African culture’.
Sending the wrong message
Zuma’s linking of African culture (whatever that is supposed to mean) and corruption is also downright reckless. Inevitably, it will tempt business people who did not think this way to consider unethical practices, and so speed up the cancer that is eating away at this country. For suddenly, bribery and dodgy dealings are ‘African’ and acceptable.
We’ve been told that the ANC wants to fight corruption. But how can the party fight something that its leaders publicly state should be embraced? Doubtless, though, it is un-African to even ask such questions. I am an African, and proud of it. I refuse to let anyone, including the ANC, tell me that speaking up against corruption and questioning things that the governing party does or says makes me less of an African.