David Africa
David Africa

What does Gwede’s Manuel-bashing mean for ANC members?

Dear Comrade Gwede Mantashe,

In the current spirit of letter writing by members and supporters of the ANC I am writing having just read a statement attributed to you by the media, in inverted commas nogal, about the Jimmy Manyi-Trevor Manuel sparring match I’ve been pleased to witness over the past two weeks. I say pleased because a senior member of the ANC dared speak out and launch the long overdue and well-deserved public critique of Manyi and the intolerant, dangerous ideas that he espouses.

You say in your statement to the media that the ANC leadership calls upon its members “not to behave like free agents”, saying what they please, and that this instruction applies not only to Manuel as a Cabinet minister but all members of the ANC. I find it astonishing that an organisation, which prides itself in the political and ideological ability of its members, requires them to behave as if they are schoolchildren, seeking the permission of “the leadership” before they make statements in public. Why provide ideological training to your members when they do not have the right to freely and publicly espouse the values taught to them and for which so many ANC members gave their lives? And what exactly did Manuel say that was so shocking and disagreeable to the ANC leadership? He defended the Constitution of the country, the ANC’s own Freedom Charter, the ANC government and the organisation’s legacy of non-racialism, as well as the contribution of the coloured community to the struggle for liberation.

If the statement made by Manyi was instead made by a member of the DA, would ANC members require your permission to attack the surely racist DA member for making such statements and remain quiet until such permission has been granted? What if ANC members encounter racism in the workplace or in their local community, as they do all the time? Can they proclaim from the rooftops that the Freedom Charter says “South Africa belongs to all who live in it” and that our Constitution protects the dignity of all persons or do they wait for a permission slip from Luthuli House?

Your position on the Manuel-Manyi issue objectively (and consciously?) places you in the position where you support Manyi. When a member of the ANC cannot defend the policies of his or her organisation in any available public forum, in the interest of a vulgarised and farcical “democratic centralism” that is used as a stick with which to beat those with whom you disagree, members of this organisation should be very concerned, as should the broader citizenry. Not only is this outdated ideological position completely out of touch with the speed and availability of modern communication, it does only harm in a mass-based organisation such as the ANC. The inevitable problems that will arise as a result of a more open and less centralised policy allowing ANC members to express themselves in public is minute in comparison to the dangers of restricting freedom of speech in this fashion within the organisation. I am not advocating a free-for-all, but publicly defending ANC policy is not only the right of all ANC members, but their duty. In fact the ANC Constitution requires members to “combat propaganda detrimental to the interests of the ANC and defend the policy, aims and programme of the ANC”. Members are also expected to “fight against racism, tribal chauvinism, sexism, religious and political intolerance or any other form of discrimination or chauvinism”.

Maybe Trevor was just following Rule 5 of the ANC Constitution?

  • Frank Nnete

    Let me also break with this convenient application of democratic centralism.

    The problem with the SG/NWC’s pronouncement is that-as the author rightly observes-it invariably cushions Manyi & inadvertantly violates the ANC’s own long standing policy on non racialism and AA. And while i understand that this thinking is probably a response to the malicious role of Solidarity in this; the issue is no less relevant for it.

    Further, i disagree with SG that this is not about Manyi’s competence. Ofcourse it is. If Bobby Soobrayan blamed black people for being unskilled products of bantu education wouldn’t we bring his competence to lead the transformation of the sector into question?

  • Coloured Tyrone

    David, don’t waist your time in reminding the ANC of what stands in the freedon charter and the ANC Constitution. These seem to be memorabilia from the past which they clearly do not follow. Coloured people have taken note of these comments and we will consider this when placing our vote on the ballet. I would suggest that the ANC forget about winning the Western Cape!

  • Bill

    Is there not a chance that this is all a ‘communist plot’ to galvanize support of one race behind a party that stands only for them to the exclusion of all others?

  • Bongo

    Your defense of Manuel sounds hollow and farcical against yourself and Manuel’s own continuous silence of the inherent racism prevalant in the Western Cape. Laughable as it may sound, these racism emanates more from our “so-called coloured” compatriots against the blacks in the Province. Like the hypocrits and opportunists you are, you joined those in the rightwing corner about an issue which should have been adressed when Manyi uttered almost a year ago. Indeed, cmde Mantashe is right. The ANC is a disciplined organisation and Manuel as a senior leader has a right to discuss his concerns with his fellow leaders. You tell us what constitution did Manuel defend? Manuel was part of a collective cabinet decision who appointed the very same Manyi as cabinet spokesperson months after this controversy. Tell us Mr Africa, whi did he agree with his collegues on this appointment if he “knew” then that Manyi is racist? You tell us with your misguided knowledge who is the real hypocrit here? Lastly, Manuel is not above the organisation and he be allowed to write letters to the neo-liberal and rightwing press that in effect undermine his own collegues in cabinet. If the honourable Mr Manuel acts like a rogue’ he should expected to be treated as one.

  • Policat

    Mr Africa you are witnessing the slow build up towards a totalitarian government that intends to do away with the irritation called democracy. If you get in the way you will be stomped on. The old guard are slowly dying out and the new guard is impatient and will soon oust all those left standing in their way. The respect for the ANC charter and its illustrious history has long been thrown out the back door in favour of instant wealth and power.
    Mark your cross carefully.

  • SH

    @David, one wonders what would have happened if redistribution was not so drawn out. This is a direct result of economic decisions taken years before. Are the chickens coming home to roost?

    Race will obviously become salient under these circumstances – because apartheid was administered in a race-based-economy AND it was applied in a hierarchical way.

    The question is, as emotive and justified as all the responses are to the race aspect, why is the economic angle so invisible in the responses?

    Surely by now it must have dawned on those who steal from the public purse that they are directly implicated if the dark mutterings about early signs of genocide (made by prof Jansen)are accurate? If they were not stealing so much, who knows how much further we could have been w.r.t. transformation?

    Of course I don’t have answers, I am a mere citizen. I’m just wondering if this is as obvious to others in this society. And if so, why are we not talking about ways to deal with race based inequality?

    Are we really going to allow Verwoerd to reach bey9ond the grave and divide us a second time?

  • Morena

    This letter lacks the necessary bite. Even worse, it repeats what has been said before. The framing of the discussions on this issue has been problematic from the start. We have individuals in starring roles on either side, each camp purporting to act or argue in their favour, competing to out-do the other; frankly neither can win but the rest of us will lose. Racism anywhere in whatever form must be defeated; bur instead we are dangerously taking positions in racial corners either as would-be conquerors or would-be vanquished. The discussion needs to move beyond the individuals involved.

  • Paseka

    David,you understand zilch about the operation of the ANC.Clear up and smell the coffee,Manual is ANC through and through,in fact he was saving the ANC,strengthening it politics of internal sparring,show how broad a church the ANC it is.Pallo Jordan had his take on the matter,albeit in a different direction,so did Cosatu,Samwu and the ANC ‘HATED’ Youth League.The ANC can critisize and redeem itself,something no other party can do in South Africa.Its history and confrontational politics experience is its big asset.

  • Judith

    And perhaps Gwede was just setting the scenario up for the crucifying of free speech as Stalin did with Trotsky?

  • Owen

    The difference here is that one should not publically attack a colleague. Manual should rather have had a man to man chat with Manyi and then only if Manyi refused to apologies and correct things should Manual have gone up his organisation.

    To go public is to create a divided organisation.

  • http://southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

    David, you need to brush up on how political parties function in parliamentary systems build on the principle of representative democracy.

    “And what exactly did Manuel say that was so shocking and disagreeable to the ANC leadership?”
    Trevor Manual fell for the DA’s apartheid-style dirty trick of resurrecting a YEAR OLD incident of no consequence onto the national stage to scare the large Coloured voting bloc in the WCape into voting for the largely white DA party.
    The DA are already popping the champagne in Constantia under the impression that the the Coloured vote is already in the bag!

  • Zaharian

    The current ANC has turned politics into “black” South Africans against the rest. Although it is a morally repugnant strategy, it will work because they have the numbers.

  • Boyzie

    They went for Trevor because its a soft target.
    A certain Julius does it all the time and no one say nadda! A bunch of hypocrates!!

  • MLH


  • Eddie

    nice post.

    my worry is that do others really feel like you do?

    do the people not realise that populist rhetoric never put food on the table (other than the elite who sprout deceit to the gullible.

    of course we need solutions, but wealth can not be created by taking anything away from anyone else.

    communism died painfully; socialism is a good concept but we dont have the money (2.5 million tax payers and 15 million grants)

  • Justin

    Well said David.

    Gwede displayed poor leadership on this issue and missed a “moment.”

  • Goolam.Dawood

    David points out certain issues he has taken with Mr Mantashe’s speech, and everyone leaps into ultra defence of the ANC or ultra criticism of the ANC, when the critical issues of nation building, race relations and transformation are ignored.

  • Tendai Mazviti

    Well noted. “When a member of the ANC cannot defend the policies of his or her organisation in any available public forum, in the interest of a vulgarised and farcical “democratic centralism” that is used as a stick with which to beat those with whom you disagree, members of this organisation should be very concerned, as should the broader citizenry.” Let’s summarise the values of what we see here – Leninist conformity and mind control, political solidarity above individual ethics, racial solidarity through identity politics, racial labelling (‘king of coloureds’) and scapegoating of minorities (see the poisonous ‘Dave Harris’ comments as a cut and paste example), and above all, a closed, elitist, exclusionary, Stalinist decision making process posing as democracy. It is not surprising that people of integrity – there are many in the ANC – are deeply troubled.

  • Kwame

    Come on David! You know very well that Gwede was not responding to the Manyi issue, neither was he against freedom of expression. Trevor Manuel happens to be a very senior member of the ANC, and every statement he makes in his personal capacity or not has an impact on the organisation. Especially if the organisation has to manage the perceptions that follow from ordinary members.

    Gwede’s call was simply that all senior members have a duty to speak from the same hym book so as to give clarity to the supporters. I think u’ve read to much into the statement, and I would advice that you rather ask Gwede to answer directly to the Manyi issue, instead of twisting and reinterpreting his statements.

    Ofcourse the ANC could never condone any form of racism, either from its own members/supporters nor any other citizen. Pls don’t tell me the DA’s strategy of racial division is working on you as well.

  • ae

    I still believe that this is a way for the ANC to try and get fence sitting coloured votes. “At least Trevor is on our side so we have hope in the ANC”. Was it not Trevor who was sent to sort out the WC ANC problems? His job is vote gathering, not flag waving, his objective is to sink the DA not use them. Maybe DH and others did not attend the planning meeting, or else he would have known that it is a plan to galvanise votes in the WC.

  • MarcusR

    The sooner we all see the ANC for what it is – racist to the core – the better we can all make objective decisions about how we want to live and vote. The ANC only embraced non-racialism during the struggle to gain the international moral high ground and the money and support that came with that. Mandela was “used” to trumpet this and to lull us all into a sense of false security. At least its all out in the open now. Thanks Manyi, Malema, Mantashe et all for not bothering with the smoke screen any more.

  • Una

    I am neither Da nor ANC both these political parties are not doing it for me. I do not like gangster politics

  • tzME

    What does Gwede’s Manuel-bashing mean for ANC members? Never mind the members ….. what does the bashing mean for Threvor ‘imself ? In the good old days of Apartheid and our struggle, when somebody disagreed with a colleague on an issue, it was not usually a question of principle and morality. If the organisation did not meet that criteria, WE LEFT !! Oh Trevor , your self respect and standing in the organisation that a lot of us (thousands in fact, maybe even hundreds of thousands) believe WAS the ANC is now one of embarrassment. They are bereft of principle and morality. They truly have ‘hung you out to dry’…. and ,pathetically, you do look like a wet rag. “Show me your company and I’ll tell you what you are”. That’s what the nuns taught us at primary school. Look around you. I like the look of the guyz around me. Do you?

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/davidafrica David Africa

    – For those who want to sue this as ‘proof’ that the ANC is autocratic or an African ethnic party, I do not want to waste time here. the same goes for those who want to use this as an opportunity to promote ethic coloured political organisation. This backward notion holds no appeal to me, and is usually, though not always a cover for the racism amongst many coloureds mentioned by Bongo above.

    My comment is not an attempt to deal with the Manuel-Manyi issue but merely the ANC’s response to Trevor. the fact that Trevor’s statement is abused by the white and coloured right-wing or the liberal press does not mean it should be suppressed. The ANC’s continued insistence (selectively though) that these matters be dealt with internally is totally backward. These are matters of national importance and should be freely debated. Thats why the ANC fought for a free society in the first place. The fact that our statements can be (ab)used by the opposition does not mean we should shy away from expressing them. Trying to confine disagreement within the structures of the organisation is ancient, especially when everyone knows these fissures exist. Keeping it amongst comrades does not make it go away. In fact it tends to fester, only to boil over at the most inopportune time.

  • Oldfox

    Manyi is not the problem. Govt. practice of marginalizing Coloureds is, and this has been going on for a long time, since the at least the late 1990s. Maybe this is not the case in the W.Cape, but its definitely the case the Northern Cape and Gauteng, and I’m sure in the other provinces too. We are now worse off, in terms of job and tertiary education opportunities, than during the Apartheid era.

  • shane chalklen

    Stop being so obviously coloured Oldfox! You starting to winge like an Ex-Rhodesian. This stereotypical thinking is what puts you in the coloured box. I am of mixed origin South African but i will not subject myself to thought control despite having my daily challenges in our South African society.

  • Oldfox

    shane chalklen
    I work for a company where we were told a year ago that Coloured males are “overrepresented”. Promotions for Coloured males are now most unlikely. I was denied opportuniies during Nat rule, and it looks like I’ll be denied opportunities now. I know an artisan “of mixed origin” who worked his way up in life, despite the restrictions during apartheid. He now battles to get contracts, as these are invariably awwarded to ternderpreneurs who cannot, for the most part, do the work. This artisan then gets asked to fix up the bad work, but at no profit margin for him. He is now battling financially.
    I could give a dozen other examples.
    You can call it winging. I call it deliberate discrimination and marginalization.
    During the apartheid era, I avoided using the Coloured label given to me by the Nats. I use it now, as the ANC will not drop this classification.
    In other words, the Nats did not make me see myself as Coloured. The ANC did.