||In his Wolpe Lecture debate with Mosiuoa Lekota last week, Ashwin Desai
challenged Cope’s leader to serve the poor
As the host body for the 1955 Freedom Charter, “Congress of the People”
are not idle words, random words or a-historical words perhaps recently
invented by a clever advertising man.
No. These are words laden with promise and idealism and a sense of
striving for something new and fair in a society bedeviled by poverty,
hurt and oppression.
I am not here to rehash arguments about legal ownership of these words
or ideas. But is voting Cope a rational option for those wishing to
deepen democracy and implement the Freedom Charter - the majority, the
squatter, the unemployed, the migrant, the Aids orphan, the landless and
Cope has to confront what the DA has been grappling with, minus the
racial impediment: there are only so many middle-class people and
pissed-off Thabo Mbeki supporters to go around. For every one of them,
there are ten poor people waiting for a sign from ANY political party
that their needs are going to be taken seriously.
Comrade Terror Lekota has been elected president of Cope. Let me
congratulate you on this and confess an admiration for your record as a
freedom fighter during the 1980s, the heady days of the United
Democratic Front. Of all the groupings that later made up the ANC, the
UDF cadres were the bravest and most democratically minded.
It was one thing languishing in jail or polishing guns in Lusaka (or
polishing off whiskey in London), but the midnight pamphleteering, the
protest march, the instigation of ungovernability, that was the sterling
work of struggle that does not have the recognition of a “veterans day”.
And you comrade Terror, because of your history, seemed to be a
representative of that People’s Power tendency in the ANC, as opposed to
the secretive, proud and Stalinist exiles or the austere, aged and
grandiose Robben Islanders.
You left cabinet in a whirlwind of political controversy to lead the
first serious challenge to the ANC. You have played a part in
revitalizing a democracy in danger of stagnating under de facto
Above all, I would love there to be a party that really sought to
implement the values of the Freedom Charter. That would benefit the
poor, for sure, and might even start a policy bidding war between
parties vying for the heart and votes of this very large electoral bloc.
But we in civil society need to know what the ideological content is of
any party that provides choice and change before we celebrate it.
Your economic policies are not much different from that of the ANC. But
is more of the same good for the poor?
We hear nothing from Cope about the global re-writing of the rule books
of a waning capitalism. There is nothing visionary to deal with rampant
unemployment besides the fob-off of occasional public works casual jobs
and an emptied out - developmental state.
I am not saying that the ANC is any better. It is just as clueless on
And you promise clean government in future, but are avoiding your own past?
Comrade Terror, you and many of the top leadership of Cope sat in a
cabinet collective where decisions were made (and not made) that had the
effect of unnecessarily retarding the roll-out of Aids medicines.
I find it very hard to accept the credentials of a party seeking votes
from those most afflicted by Aids, the poor, when these leaders have not
reconciled with their past on this shameful, almost criminal part of our
We have just celebrated the Day of Reconciliation. The Afrikaners used
to call it the Day of the Vow celebrating the Battle of Blood River in
which 3000 Zulu warriors were killed.
A recent Harvard School of Public Health study showed that
conservatively we suffered 300000 preventable Aids deaths as a direct
result of cabinet negligence, led by your former chief, Thabo Mbeki.
Do you know how many Blood Rivers your cabinet dithered and denied over?
It’s three months of Blood Rivers, one a day, every day.
You need to explain why you were silent and why under your leadership of
Cope this kind of group-think or yes-mannery will not re-occur.
CORRUPTION AND DISSENT
Cope has taken issue with the corruption in the ANC dominated state. But
you, comrade Terror, were in the ringside seats during the arms deal
episode and you must know what really happened?
Why keep quiet? To the best of your knowledge and belief, was Joe
Modise, your predecessor, corrupted? That’s a direct question. To the
best of your knowledge and belief, was the ANC’s 1999 election campaign
funded, in part, by monies that originated from arms manufacturers?
Many in this hall will agree that the ANC has been quite intolerant of
dissent. But this is not new. Who was it who berated trade unionists
when they questioned Gear? When Mbeki labeled as “ultra-leftists” those
of us who questioned the economic model he chose and which is now
exposed as deeply problematic, did you not join in the chorus?
Let me remind you of words you spoke to a 1999 Cosatu congress: “The
recent trend, on the part of some highly placed comrades, of ascending
platforms or by other ways criticising or agitating against policies and
actions of the movement, inside and outside Government, smacks of a lack
of revolutionary discipline… It creates a climate in which agents
provocateurs can thrive and advance their counter-revolutionary agendas.”
What did you say when Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa were slandered
by the paranoid accusations of your former colleague, Steve Tshwete, as
potential traitors and assassins?
For the past decade, I have seen community movements resisting
evictions, suffering water-cut-offs and demanding a more responsive and
caring government. We need not romanticize these movements, but many
have raised legitimate grievances in the face of extremely harsh and
arbitrary actions by ANC mayors, and MEC’s and councilors.
It is one thing being called a dog or a snake, comrade Terror. It is
another thing being treated as one. You, sir, were part of a government
that often unjustly sent in the Red Ants, or a police baton charge when
unworkable and unfair government policies were to be enforced.
We took the ANC to the courts how many times simply to access water or
shelter or a pension. I know that it was not your direct responsibility
then as a Minister, but it certainly is your direct duty now to speak
out about these things as a politician seeking votes from those your
government has treated very badly. Do we hear a peep?
You mention the authoritarianism of PW Botha and Vorster being
manifested in the ANC today. Welcome to the real world, comrade Terror.
But pardon some of us if we find it difficult to hide a smile. We
remember that not so long ago, the suffering of others who opposed the
ANC and its policies, also left you cold.
Ironically, by kicking Mbeki out, the ANC is in a better position to
distinguish themselves from this appalling legacy than a silent,
loyalist Cope leadership. By recalling Mbeki, the ANC can repudiate
other aspects of the Mbeki years such as his notorious intolerance of
dissent, quiet support of Mugabe in Zimbabwe and delivery failures.
The question I asked earlier was whether Cope was an electoral option
for the poor. Cope is not a new party representing a new social force.
It is largely still a splinter group of the ANC associated closely with
the dissatisfaction that arose after Mbeki was recalled.
Do you recognize your own culpability in the mess that we have made of
what was bequeathed to us by the original Congress of the People? Until
you do, I can see no reason at all for you to be trusted with the votes
of the poor or, more significantly for Cope to survive as a party with
more than just the ejection of Mbeki from office and a dose of
disgruntlement to define you.
(Dr Desai is based at the University of Johannesburg and was a Centre
for Civil Society researcher prior to a 2006 ban on his employment at
Ukuqhamuka kweCOPE akwanele
Yahunyushwa nguFaith ka-Manzi
Engxogxweni –mpikiswano yeWolpe Lecture noMosiuoa Lekota ngesonto
eledlule, uAshwin Desai wanxusa umholi weCope ukunakekela izidingo
Njengomzimba owawuphethe iFreedom Charter ngo1955, “iCongress of the
People” ayikhulumanga amazwi eze, amazwi asentshenziswa inoma kanjani
noma amazwi omlando mhlawumbe asetshenziswa kabusha yindoda ekhangisayo ekhaliphile.
Cha. Lamazwi agcwele isethembiso kanye nomuzwa wokuthi kunokusha
nokunobulungiswa emphakathini oxakwe ububha, ubuhlungu kanye nengcindezi.
Angizile lapha ukuzoqala phansi inkulumompikiswano mayelana nokuthi
ngubani umnikazi ngokomthetho walamazwi noma lemicabango. Kodwa ngabe ukuvotela iCope indlela enomqondo kulabo abafisa ukujula ngentando yeningi futhi ukubona iFreedom Charter igcwaliseka – abaningi, abahlala
emjondolo, abangasebenzi, abasuka emadolobheni beza emadolobheni,
intandane yengculazi, ophucwe umhlaba kanye nabanhlwempu?
ICope kufanele ibhekane nalokhu iDA ebhekene nakho, ngaphandle kwesici
sezobandlululo: ukuthi ziningi izifundiswa kanye nabalandeli bakaThabo
Mbeki abadiniwe. Koyedwa wabo, kunabantu abayishumi abanhlwempu
abalindele uphawu kunoma IYIPHI inhlangano yezombusazwe lokuthi izidingo
zabantu zizothola ukusukunyelwa phezulu.
UComrade Terror Lekota uqokwe njengomongameli weCope. Akengimhalalisele kulokhu futhi ngiyaqhenya ngendlela anamlando ngayo njengomlweli wenkululeko ngama1980, iminyaka ebalulekile yezinsuku zeUnited Democratic Front. Kuwowonke amaqembu emva kwesikhathi abangumfelandawonye kaANC, abalandela beUDF ibona ababenesibindi kakhulu futhi bebuswa yintondo yeningi kakhulu.
Kwakwenye into ukuhlala ejele, noma ukupholisha izibhamu eLusaka (noma
ukuphuza iWhiskey eLandani), kodwa ukusabalalisa izincwajana(pamphlets)
phakathi nobusuku, iziteleka ezinkulu, ukwenza izwe lingabuseki, lokho
kwakungumsebenzi womzabalazo namhlanje ongabhekwa njengongenzi “usuku lwamaveterans”.
Ngabe comrade Terror, ngenxa yomlando wakho, ngabe uyinxusa Lwamandla Abantu okujwayelekile kwiANC, okuphikisana kunalokhu okunobumfihlo, okuziqhenya noma okuzazisa, kondlovukayiphikiswa kwamakhehla aseRobben Islanders.
Ushiye ikomkhulu lezombusazwe kunempikiswano enkulu okuyiyona efake inselelelo yokuqala kwi ANC. Udlale indima ekuvuseleleni intando yeningi ebisengozini yokufadalala ngaphansi kokubuswa iqembu elilodwa.
Kukho-konke, ngingathanda kube khona iqembu elingajongana nokugcwalisela imigomo yeFreedom Charter. Lokho kuyosiza abanhlwempu, nginesiqiniseko ngalokho, futhi kungaqala impi phakathi kwezinhlangano zemibusazwe zibannga izinhliziyo kanye namavoti zalabantu abaningi kangaka abangabavoti.
Kodwa thina emiphakathini sidinga ukwazi ukuthi ithini ingqikithi
yenkelelo yanoma iyiphi inhlangano futhi isinika ukukhetha nokushintsha
ngaphambi kokuba siyijabulele.
Imigomo yenu yomnotho ayihlukile kakhulu kweyeANC. Kodwa ngabe iphethe
okuhle okufanayo kwabanhlwempu.
Comrade Terror,asizwa lutho ukuthi ithini iCope mayelana nokubhalwa
kwabusha kokushabalala kwamandla abadla izambane likapondo umhlaba
wonke. Akukho mbono mayelana nokujwayeleka kokungabikhona kwemisebenzi ngaphandle-nje kwemisebenzi yesikhashana kahulumeni kanye nohulumeno wentuthuko ongasenamali.
Angisho ukuthi iANC ingcono. Nayo-nje ayinalwazi ngalemibuzo.
Futhi nithembisa uhulumeni ohlanzekile kusasa, kodwa ngabe nigwema
Comrade Terror, wean kanye nabaningi babaholi beCope benihlala
kwinkulumbuso ehlangene lapho izinqumo ezenziwa (ezinye zangenziwa)
ezakhinyabeza ukukhishwa kwemishanguzo yengculazi.
Ngikuthola kunzima kakhulu ukwamukela inhlangano efuna amavoti abaningi
abahlushwa ingculazi , abanhlwempu, lapho labaholi bangakaxolisi
ngekamva labo eliyihlazo, futhi eliwubugcwelegcwele emlandweni wethu
Sisanda kujabulela Usuku Lokuxolelana (Day of Reconciliation). Amabhunu
ayelibiza ngoSuku Lwesethembiso bejabulela Impi yaseNcome (Battle of
Blood River) lapho kwafa amabutho ayizinkulungwane ezintathu zamaZulu.
Ucwaningo oludana kwenziwa e Harvard School of Public Health lukhombise
ukuthi sifelwe abantu abangu300000 ngengculazi okwakungagwemeka kodwa
ngenxa yokunganakekeli kwenkulumbuso, kuholwa ngowayengubasi wakho,
Uyazi ukuthi mingaki Imifula Yegazi ebekhona ngenkathi inkulumbuso yenu
isangabaza? Izinyanga ezintathu Zemifula Yegazi, usuku lulunya, zonke
Udinga ukuchaza ukuthi wawuthulelelni futhi yini ngaphansi kobuholi
beCope lendlela yokucabanga lokhu ngeke kuphinde kwenzeke.
ICope ikhuluma ngenkohlakalo esabalele kuhulumeni obuswa nguulumeni weANC. Kodwa nawe Comrade Terror, wawuphakathi lapho ezihlalweni ngenkathi kukhulunywa ngezikhali futhi uyazi ukuthi kwenzekani ngempela/ Uthuleleni? Ngokwazi kwakho okugcwele kanye nenkolelo,ngabe uJoe Modise, owayephethe ngaphambi kwakho, ekhohlakele? Umbuzo oqondile lona. Ngokwazi kwakho okugcwele kanye nenkolelo, ngabe ukhetho luka 1999 lweANC olwaluxhasiwe, engxenye, yizimali zabakhiqizi bezikhali?
Abaningi kuleliholo bazovuma ukuthi Ianc imelene nokuthi kungavunyelwana
nayo. Kodwa lokhu akukusha. Ubani owathethisa abasebenzi bezinhlangano
zabasebenzi ngenkathi bezuza ngeGEAR? Ngenkathi uThabo Mbeki ebiza ngama “ultra-leftists” labo abethu ababebuza lendlela yomnotho ayeyikhetha namhlanje esiyinkinga enkulu, awuzange nawe ube ngomunye owayecula leloculo?
Awuthi ngikukhumbuze amazwi owakhuluma ngo1999 kwicongress yeCOSATU: “Lomkhuba omusha wabanye bamacomrade abasezindaweni eziphakeme ukuthi bagxeke noma basuse uthuthuva ngemigomo kanye nezenzo nenhlangano, ngaphakathi nom angaphandle kukahulumeni, kubonakala kungenakho ukulawuleka…Kudala isimo sabachkuluza abaphila ngokuhlale begxeka kukhombisa ukuthi bahambisa phambili eyabo imigomo.”
Wathini ngenkathi uTokyo Sexwale noCyril Ramaphosa bethukwa
ngababengozakwenu ngokunukwa, uSteve Tshwete, njengamavukelambuso kanye nababulali?
Eminyakeni eyishumi edlule, sengibone imibuthano yemophakathi ilwa
nokukhishwa ngendlovuyangena ezindlini, ukunqanyulelwa amanzi futhi
zifuna uhulumeni onozwelo nolalelayo ozizwayo. Sidinga ukungayenzi
ngcono lemobuthano, kodwa eziningi ziphakamize izikhalo ezisemthethweni
ebusweni bezenzo ezinzima ezinonya zenziwa ngoSobaba bemikhandlu beANC, amaMEC kanye namakhansela.
Enye into ukubizwa ngenja noma ngenyoka, comrade Terror. Kodwa okunye ukuphathiswa okwayo. Wena, mnumzane, ubukade uyingxenye kahulumeni isikhathi esiningi obukade ngaphandle kobulungiswa uthumela amaRed Ant, noma kushaywe ngezinduku zamaphoyisa uma uhulumeni uhluleka ukuthi
isinqumo semigomo sawo samukelwe.
Siyisa iANC ezinkantolo kaningi kangakanani ukuze nje sithole amanzi nom aindawo yokuhlala noma imali kadede. Ngiyazi akuwena ngqo obukade unothelela walokho jengoNgqongqoshe, kodwa manje sekungumsebenzi wakho ukuthi ukhulume ngqo ngalezizinto njengomholi wezombusazwe ofuna mavoti kulabo abaphathwe kabi akhulunguhulumeni wakho. Singalunguza?
Ukhuluma ngokubusa ngokungaphikiswa ko PWBotha kanye noVorster
kubonakala kwiANC namhlanje. Wamukelekile emhlabeni wangempela, comrade Terror. Kodwa usixolele uma abanye bethi behluleka ukufihla uhleko. Sikhumbula ukuthi kungekudala, ukuhlupheka kwalabo ababephikisa iANC nemigomo yayo, nayo yayikwenza ubandelwe emathunjini.
UBANI ONGALE KUKAMBEKI?
Ngokungakholeki, ngokuxosha uMbeki, iANC manje isesimweni esingcono
ukuqhelanisa esikweni elibi kunabaholi abathembekile beCope
abathembekile. Ngokubiza uMbeki, iANC manje isingalungisa izinto ezifana
nokuthulwa kwakhe okubi mayelana neZimbabwe exhasa uMugabe kanye
nokuhluleka ukuletha izidingo emiphakathini.
Umbuzo engiwubuzile ekuqaleni ukuthi ngabe iCope ingaba inhlangano
engavotelwa ngabanhlwempu. iCope akuyona inhlangano entsha eza nabantu
abasha. Inqamuke kwiANC futhi lokhu kudalwe unganeliseki kwabo
Uyalibona ifa elimbi eilishiyelwe ngabantu okwakungabokuqala ukuhlangana
njengeCongress of the People? Uma ungakuboni lokho, angisiboni isidingo
sokuthi uthenjwe namavoti abantu abanhlwempu noma, ukuthi iCope
ingaphila nje ngoba kungabantu abaqhamuke ngenxa yokunganeliseki
ngokukhonjwa indlela kukaMbeki.
(UDkt Desai ufundisa eUniversity yaseJohannesburg futhi wayengumcwaningi
eCentre for Civil Society ngaphambi kuka2006 lapho exoshwa eUKZN.)