Shock! Horror! The Young Thug wing of the ANC forcibly prevented a suburban book launch of which they did not approve.
The Sandton launch for Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s expose of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s dirty dealings during his tenure as Free State premier had to be abandoned in the face of book-ripping, customer-jostling crowd of threatening ANC Youth League supporters. The police stood by, either inept or complicit.
Big deal. Why is anyone surprised?
This is a political environment where xenophobic attacks go unpunished, where a veiled call for genocide gets the blessing of the Human Rights Commission. This is where political opponents are defamed, abused and threatened, while the IEC sits with folded hands.
The most notable aspect of the incident is that it just provides more evidence of the obvious: the ANCYL and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) share the same DNA. It is, after all, the EFF leader, Julius Malema, who when former president Jacob Zuma was under fire like Ace is now, threatened to “kill for Zuma”.
It is admittedly admirable that the old-guard ANC stalwarts have expressed their disapproval over the ANCYL’s undemocratic behaviour. As a result, in response to instructions from above, the Free State book burning has been cancelled or at least – much like Julius’s threatened genocide – postponed, for now. Whether the threats to tear Myburgh from limb to limb if he dares set foot in the Free State are similarly rescinded has not been specified.
This schizophrenia – the ANC’s right hand slapping its own left wrist in feigned rebuke – is a well-worn but effective tactic. Eventually the dissonance between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde will cause a permanent rupture, but for now it works wonderfully.
It makes it possible for two ideologically incompatible but evenly matched parties, who are engaged in a perpetual struggle for mastery of the organisation, to co-exist under a single roof. It will continue until eventually one bests the other, or the electorate tires of the arm-wrestling, at which point the ANC may split.
This is what makes absurd the suggestion that those who have previously voted for opposition parties should “support” President Cyril Ramaphosa’s faction against former president Jacob Zuma’s faction on May 8. On the ballot there is only one ANC emblem and it shelters not only dozens of candidates who have been implicated in criminality, but a diverse array of factions, ranging from hardline revolutionaries to old-style liberals.
The choice, then, is between voting for none or for all. Every vote is shared equally between those factions, as well as with the two formal members of the alliance, the SA Communist Party and Cosatu.
So one can delude oneself as much as one wishes, but a “Ramaphosa” vote is equally a “Zuma” vote. The only way to influence the behaviour of any political party is either to join as a member and seek to change it internally, or to indicate your disapproval by voting against it, or – only tangentially effective – not voting at all.
It is only when the governing ANC alliance is punished at the polls that ANC behaviour will change.