Although having experienced the personal and vitriolic attacks that former president Jacob Zuma and his family have been subjected to for more than two decades, I continue to be shocked by how devious his detractors are. This is once again on display in some of the responses to the “Zooming with Zumas” conversations.
The anti-Zuma lobby is a toxic brew of three groups in our society:
Firstly, White Monopoly Capitalists (WMC), who control our economy, and who fear President Zuma because they have experienced in him the first president since 1994 who was prepared to challenge their economic supremacy.
Secondly, a small black elite and intelligentsia, who have a deep seated disregard for President Zuma, because of his humble beginnings and little formal education. They literally hate his guts for having become the first ANC president not from their ranks. Throughout the existence of the ANC they considered themselves entitled to lead.
This black elite spewed a tiny class of compradore capitalists, who made common cause with white monopoly capitalists at the cost of the continuing impoverishment of the black majority.
Lastly, a racist white community still hankering back to apartheid. In President Zuma they encountered the first African president who was prepared to challenge their racism, and who refused to sacrifice full African empowerment on the treacherous altar of so-called reconciliation. No other ANC president told them straight to their faces that the trouble started when Van Riebeeck landed at the “Cape of Good Hope” in 1652.
This mixture of groups saw whites, together with a sprinkling of black elitists and capitalists, financed by agents of imperialism such as George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, and the Stellenbosch mafia, marching in our streets under the banner of the so-called ‘Save South Africa Campaign’, chanting “Zuma must go!”.
They abused unsubstantiated allegations of “corruption”, hitherto untested in any court of law, to present themselves as “angels of morality”.
President Zuma has the distinction of being the only black president against whom whites ever marched. Interestingly once they managed to remove him their concern for corruption evaporated. On their website there is now a message: “Please be advised the Save South Africa Campaign is no longer active.”
The same weekend that the “Save South Africa Campaign” gathered in Church Square calling for the removal of President Zuma, I was at Mahlamba Ndlopfu, the official presidential residence in Pretoria, for a function. I stood next to a minister who fancies himself to be an intellectual. In Judas-like fashion he betrayed President Zuma, after having been kept in cabinet for years. As President Zuma walked on to the terrace, he whispered under his breath: “Here is the bloody peasant.”
That moment the penny dropped, and I realised what was happening in Church Square was no different from the sentiment I had just heard expressed by the minister.
This was what the African poor in our sprawling urban townships, and rural villages, have instinctively realised. They know they are being disregarded, and that President Zuma is one of them and similarly abused.
In the recognition that “here is one of us”, the mass base of Nxamalala’s support is rooted. Expressed in the sentiment that Msholozi is the only truly black president South Africa had.
This explains the large crowds that gather every time when President Zuma has to appear in court, and the jubilant masses that gathered everywhere when he campaigned for the ANC during the last elections. As much as it may be resented by some in the ANC, no one can deny President Zuma’s continuing popularity. No other politician in South Africa can claim a similar mass base.
Consequently, “Zooming with Zumas” also attracts a mass response.
Some members of the anti-Zuma lobby group, who fancy themselves as black intellectuals, have in the media criticised “Zooming with Zumas” as a desperate, failed communication campaign.
Of course, they do not deal with the huge numbers of people that “Zooming with Zumas” already reached. Instead they criticise the style of communication, based on the slick communication theories of advertising companies. In reality these are simply irrelevant. Their disdain for the Zumas makes them fail to understand the content of what is being communicated.
The warm family character of the conversations between dad and son is disregarded. They fail to appreciate how these conversations are experienced in the context of a caring father who attended the vindictive trial of his son, who was brought to court in leg irons, on charges that were pursued by AfriForum, a white, racially defined organisation.
This example of love between father and son speaks to a nation of far too many single-parent families, hankering for fathers to take responsibility. There is the heartrending pain of having lost a wife, and mother, in the most terrible way through suicide. Also of having lost a son, and younger brother, under circumstances that indicate that he died because of the situation caused by the hatred for President Zuma. Finally the poisoning of President Zuma, and how Duduzane fought to save his father’s life.
I am mentioning only a few topics that came up in these video chats. Not surprisingly, they generate huge discomfort among President Zuma’s detractors, because they pierce through the conspiracy of silence that refuses to acknowledge the terrible damage that the years of unprecedented vicious attacks on Msholozi inflicted on his family.
Father and son confront us with unanswered, and hugely unsettling, questions. Why did the Reverend Frank Chikane take the suicide note of his mother away from Duduzane? How did certain parts of that note, carefully selected to cause damage to President Zuma, get into the media?
Why was Msholozi poisoned? Why was Deputy President David Mabuza poisoned? Why is it considered to be so “offensive” that Duduzane talks about how he assisted to save comrade Mabuza’s life? Shouldn’t he rather deserve praise? Isn’t the offensive part that the deputy president today shows disdain for, or seems scared, to keep up contact with those who saved his life?
Furthermore, why are there so many instances of feared poisonings of politicians? Why are there those among us who perpetually fear what, and where, we eat?
These matters may not be silenced. They must be talked about, and exposed. Similarly we must talk about the slew of allegations that came to the fore that large amounts of money were used to influence the outcome of the leadership elections at the ANC’s 54th National Conference.
Why is so much feigned outrage expressed when these disturbing issues are raised? They have for long been festering under the surface, and are being talked about in whispers of fear among comrades. There are no coincidences. There is an awful web of interactive coherence between all of what we now hear about in these conversations.
Any attempt to force these issues back into dark corners should be resisted. The way in which some try to use the coronavirus pandemic to cover them up is disingenuous and devoid of respect for all of us.
We need to know the truth.
Niehaus is a veteran of the ANC, with 40 years of continuous membership. He is a member of the national executive committee of MKMVA, and the MKMVA national spokesperson