The attack by Congress of the People president Mosiuoa Lekota against President Cyril Ramaphosa, whom he called a apartheid-era sellout, is part of an attempt to “desecrate the liberation struggle by portraying its leaders as a bunch of corrupt crooks”, a political expert has said.
“The attacks against the ANC, in particular, would increase as the party was losing its status and legitimacy as a leader of society,” analyst Ralph Mathekga said.
Mathekga described Lekota’s claim as “politics of gossip” that were common post-1994, especially in the run-up to the national elections.
“Those who make these accusation are not held accountable because SA society is so gullible. We don’t put the burden on the accuser to provide proof of whatever claim he makes against another person,” Mathekga said.
Lekota shocked everybody when he announced during the debate on the State of the Nation Address in parliament on Wednesday that Ramaphosa sold him and other Black Consciousness activists out to the apartheid special branch in 1974.
As a result, Ramaphosa was released, while his fellow detainees, including Lekota, were sent to Robben Island.
“When it was difficult, you wrote to the special branch that we put Communist ideas in your head. In doing so, you condemned us to the special branch. I say this because the special branch rewarded you and they sent you home and we headed to Robben Island,” Lekota said.
Yesterday, Ramaphosa vehemently denied that he sold out and hit back at Lekota for making a dangerous innuendo.
He confirmed that indeed he was detained with Lekota and others but he never sold out.
Mathekga said many accusations of “selling out” were heard recently, including one made by EFF leader Julius Malema that former president Nelson Mandela sold out to apartheid authorities.
Another was by SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila regarding late PAC leader Robert Sobukwe.
“Society needs to be vigilant and demand the accuser prove his allegation. These people cannot be allowed to desecrate the respected liberation movement.”
Analyst Lesiba Teffo said it was easy to dismiss Lekota or give credence to his allegation when he had no facts or proof.
He said it was premature to dismiss Lekota and to believe on Wednesday that Ramaphosa indeed was a sellout.
But now that Ramaphosa had explained, Lekota needed to make peace with the fact that there was someone who sold out who was not Ramaphosa.
“Lekota must live with the fact that they were betrayed but not by the person he thought it was,” Teffo said.
In his response in parliament, Ramaphosa also referred to similar sellout accusations levelled against Nelson Mandela after he was moved to a prison house in Victor Verster, away from Robben Island. But these accusations were dismissed by fellow islanders like Walter Sisulu because they trusted Mandela’s character.
“If they accuse Ramaphosa of having benefitted from BEE, they must confine their attack to that and not extend it to beyond that. You can’t demonise his role in the liberation struggle,” Mathekga said.