Former president of the SA Students’ Congress (Sasco) Mbulelo Mandlana came out in defence of Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom on Tuesday.
This after some members of the ANC labelled him a racist for tabling a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma. Some argued that he didn’t have a right to table this motion against the president because he is white, and that, as a white person (despite his having been in the struggle), he had benefited from apartheid.
Mandlana did not take this criticism lightly. He took to Facebook to defend the minister, who participated and was arrested during the fight against apartheid.
The former Sasco president argued that Hanekom, who is part of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), is no lesser member of the party merely because he is white or because he raises views on the embattled president that some may not agree with.
“Derek Hanekom is a member of the ANC and a member of its NEC. He is no lesser of these things because he is white or because he raised a motion you dislike in a meeting he sits in lawfully and legitimately. It is wrong that as members of the ANC when it suits us his being white offends us on factional basis, and when it suits us his whiteness is glorified as testimony that the ANC is a progressive and diverse organisation that is an embodiment of non-racialism.
“On principle Cde Hanekom did absolutely nothing wrong. Every NEC member in a meeting of the NEC has a right to raise a motion that he or she considers in the best interests of the organisation and the revolution, above all; in performing one’s responsibilities for which he was elected as an NEC member, one is actually duty-bound (not merely allowed) to articulate what he considers to be a fulfilment of his responsibility as a leader and as a cadre of the movement. For doing that no wrath shall automatically descend upon his head. This issue is a sign of the gross political backwardness that characterises our comrades.
“There is stooping low and there is lower than low and the narrative that demonises that comrade for doing his job as a comrade is lowest. The point is not about whether the motion was wise or unwise, the issue rather is that no member of the ANC should be criminalised for acting as their conscience, as comrades, directs them. If we do this we will reduce ourselves from a progressive political organisation into a political gang of mutual bullying.”