Press "Enter" to skip to content

Patriotism is the last refuge of the coward

South Africa 1910 1928 1994
Different bullshit but nothing’s changed, it’s still the same corruption

There are many things that signal the virtue of cowardice. A prolonged and deep reliance on patriotism is just one of them. To say that the South Africa in which we now live is a project in progress is to deny two things. Firstly that the republic is the same republic as from 1961 and secondly that the union is the same union as from 1910. What does this mean? Very simply that when we made the transition to democracy, the rule of law and market economy in 1994, with the first democratic elections and in 1996 with the first democratic constitution, we continued the existing republic and the existing union. We enacted a new constitution as an act of a parliament created by an interim constitution, that itself was enacted by a parliament, which continued to exist through the transition to democracy, the rule of law and market economy. So what happened is that the rules changed. The systems did not change. The organisations did not change. The institutions did not change. There were structural changes, mechanistic changes and operational changes and there were efforts made to change the culture of the systems, organisations and institutions of government and of the public sector.

This means that the in fact the South Africa in which we live has been a project in progress since the 1497 arrival of Vasco da Gama. Why? Because South Africa as a construct is a European thing in and by itself. It did not exist formatively prior to the creation of the forerunners to the four provinces of the republic and union and to the four colonies that went together to form the union in 1910. Each of the colonies were created by appropriating a diverse group of territories; from many different kingdoms, many different tribes and many different peoples. No one colony was constituted from the territory of one kingdom, one tribe and/or one people. These four colonies became the four provinces and this completed the European construct finally. The territory of modern South Africa was not united and was not in itself a federation of kingdoms, tribes and peoples prior to the 1497 arrival of Vasco da Gama and so cannot be the property of any of the constituent kingdoms, tribes and/or peoples, or even of any federation of the constituent kingdoms, tribes and/or peoples.

Factually there are more than thirty-five indigenous tribes each with their own language in South Africa. Unfortunately, due to the perverse nature of the transition of democracy, rule of law and market economy, only nine of these are recognised as official languages and thuse as official tribes of South Africa. This stems from the ten African Homelands which were created in South Africa from 1913. The majority of the more than thirty-five indigenous tribes had their kingdoms dissolved, their tribes assimilated and their people appropriated. This against the background of having had their territory seized, their language disregarded, their history erased and their culture minimised. So only the major kingdoms, tribes and people are recognised as official. This even though the democratic constitution guarantees the rights of every citizen, as an individual, regardless of ethnicity. Factually the nine official African tribes and their languages are forces of neo-colonial occupation, domination and discrimination that do not respect the rights of the rest of the people of South Africa and do not practice the multiculturalism that is a prominent feature of the logic of the democratic constitution.

This is not surprising, given that, as the indicated earlier, the republic is a continuation of the apartheid republic from 1961. The logic of mainstream domination, the logic of groupthink, the logic of cultural assimilation and the logic of preferential treatment has continued unabated. Factually apartheid has continued, albeit with the reintegration of the ten African Homelands into South Africa, and with a constitutional framework that makes the pernicious crime against humanity known as apartheid officially impossible to recreate and reintroduce. Today there are kingdoms, tribes and peoples who are not, in any way, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Tsonga. Venda, Sotho, Pedi, Ndebele and/or Swazi; but who are African, who are Bantu, who are Sotho-Tswana, who are Nguni; and who instead of being respected for their own culture are grouped together with the nine official African language groups and are expected to just accept the gradual erasure of their own cultural identities. No media, no legislation and no education in their own languages. The Pan South African Language Board which should have been established to protect the language rights of all of the people of South Africa, instead has as its focus the development of the official languages of South Africa. So the system that discriminates against the minority of African South Africans continues as it did during apartheid, because only the nine official African language groups had their ten African Homelands. The democratic constitution makes provision for the protection, through the Pan South African Language Board, of the first nation languages, being the Khoi, the San and the Nama languages, the sign languages, being the language of the deaf, the community languages, being the languages of the Europeans and Asians other than English and Afrikaans and the religious languages, being the languages in which religious activities are conducted; but does not go far enough to protect the rights and to develop the capacities of all of the languages of South Africa.

So we have a South Africa that does not belong to all of its people, a South Africa that does not respect the rights of all of its people and a South Africa that develops only some of its people. This was the status quo from the 1497 arrival of Vasco da Gama, through colonialism, first Dutch then English/British, and through apartheid. In principle nothing has changed. The transition to democracy, the rule of law and market economy was flawed insofar as it was no more than a deal between the African National Congress (ANC) and the National Party (NP) to unite South Africa with the 10 African Homelands, rather than to create a new country. Frantz Fanon, in Black Skins White Masks and Wretched of the Earth, told us that this would happen. The liberators have indeed become the new oppressors. What is the purpose of this discussion? Simply that while there are disparate groupings in South Africa, that seek their own way and to dominate the mainstream, there is a common South Africa, predicated on a national consciousness, that involves the emotional symbols of Mandela, the Rand, the springbok, the protea and the democratic constitution. This common South Africa shows itself at times of national crisis, national joy and national outrage; and manifests itself beyond the petty tribalism and the short-sighted greed.

To fight for this common South Africa, where the South African-ness trumps any and all other identities, is to cling to a diaphanous mythology which is created from time to time as is needed. It is not founded on a singular philosophy as it should have been. We had hoped that Masakhane would replace apartheid as the national policy, from 1990 onwards. Masakhane means “to stand together”, “to build together” or “to work together” and would if implemented correctly have been South Africa’s Negritude. From that would have been the multicultural approach that would not have had South Africa today be discriminating against African South Africans who are not from the nine official African language groups. The Masakhane project was subsumed by the corruption associated with the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) and the Engelsian-Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist logic of the ANC and its allies, being the South African Communist Party (SACP), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO). Within a few short years of the start of the Mandela presidency the Masakhane project had disappeared from political stage. Mandela was denied his opportunity to propound a national consciousness, being Masakhane, that was not predicated on the happenstance of being South African, and which was not premised on the inexactitudes of tribal or language identity politics.

Instead a South Africanism was produced as a thread stringing together one corrupt developmental project after the next. From the failed RDP onwards, the ANC has promised the upliftment of the people and instead has enriched the few. To justify their kleptomaniacal excursions they have punted this notion of South African being an integrated and united country whose people are fundamentally happy with the construct of their nation. This is complete nonsense. The South Africa that exists is divided, along racial lines, along ethnic lines, along language lines, along religious lines, along wealth lines, along cultural lines and along gender lines. Not to deny reality it is also divided along age lines. We have regressed into being a society whose parts are defined by groupthink and whose consensus is premised upon cultural representation. We tolerate the claim that if the leaders of the English and Afrikaans agree, if the leaders of the nine official African language groups agree, if the leaders of the Coloureds agree, if the leaders of the Indians agree and if the leaders of the Chinese agree, then in terms of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE), being another failed ANC policy, that we have a consensus that is and which must be binding on South Africa and on South Africans. This creates the false narrative of legitimacy and authenticity which is exploited by the ANC to enable and facilitate the wholesale looting of the public sector, the state, the government, the republic and the union of South Africa. Added to this, very uneconomical labour legislation and policies, together with the uneconomical lobbying from COSATU, has all but bankrupted the private sector as well.

We are asked to continue supporting the pilfery and the misdirection that replaced the national consciousness of what could have been Masakhane. I’m not defending national consciousness as a thing or as a construct, far from it, I have read and agreed with the Pitfalls of National Consciousness by Frantz Fanon (from Wretched of the Earth) many times. What I am saying is that instead of a psychotic repetition of Animal Farm by George Orwell, with a conveyor belt of national development projects that serve as transient troughs for the few, we could have had a new perspective of and position for each and every South African that would have been determined to have been implemented on an individual basis and for the purpose of work. What we got was a system of variations of versions of forgeries of groupthink that was and is premised on stealing (and eating), keeping (and flaunting) and hoarding (and denying). The claims of those that are entitled to their “liberation dividend” are reminiscent of the 1925 claims of the NP coalition government that wanted a “clean flag” because they were entitled, and of the 1948 claims of the NP government proper that wanted a “clean country” because they were entitled. The memory of the Anglo-Boer war resonating the minds of the Afrikaners, the NP set to work, from 1948, taking their “liberation dividend” to the detriment of the British, surely, but also to the detriment of the non-white Afrikaners, and to the detriment of the people of South Africa in general.

Some will say that apartheid affected African South Africans worse than other South Africans. This is untrue. From 1913 the African Homelands were created to separate European from African. The claims of the other tribes were ignored and the independence of the nine now-official African language tribes was instituted. The ultimate plan was to handover the African townships in South Africa to the African Homelands, so that in effect there would no African South Africans. South Africa would be European, Coloured and Asian. The mismanagement and corruption wrought by the traditional leaders of the nine now-official African language tribes specifically did not develop the livelihoods of the minority indigenous tribes and did not in fact develop the livelihoods of their own tribes. The African Homelands, progressively more independent, were a sham that did not serve any purpose other than to acquiesce to the logic of apartheid, which was that South Africa was a majority European country. The leaders of the African Homelands were yes-men for their apartheid bosses, who simply wanted to exploit the utilisation of the labour of the African South African population. This however does not prove the case of the anti-apartheid movements who were criminalised and considered terrorists, both in South Africa and in the African Homelands. The fact is that self determination was granted, that developmental aid was granted and that the opportunity to live and work from the African townships in South Africa was granted. The ten African Homelands did not capitalise on their opportunity. They spent their time wasting resources, skewing allocations, begging for crumbs from the apartheid table and generally being corrupt.

This dependency mindset has continued into the democratic dispensation with the ANC being controlled only by representatives of the nine official African language groups, and pushing the agenda of “jobs and food for the boys” in the euphemistic hope that “an army marches on its stomach”. Instead of the African Homelands relying on borrowing from South Africa, the ANC government is borrowing from its trade partners. Same dependency, different embassies. The ANC has eaten its “liberation dividend” rather that use its “liberation dividend” to build something long-lasting and sustainable. It in fact handed out food parcels rather than created farms. To say that they ANC is stupid, lacking in any and all intelligence and sophistication is to simply condone the mythology of apartheid which claimed that the Bantu (the ethnological group of African South Africans) was incapable of work, incapable of civility, incapable of sophistication and incapable of creation. The very fact of the population explosion among African South Africans, in a manner that can only be described as irresponsible family planning, with the majority of African South Africans being born into poverty has done nothing to disprove the suggestion that the Bantus were not human and were in fact culturally unevolved animals or sub-humans at best. No better advert has there been for the virtues of apartheid than the ANC’s mismanagement of South Africa since 1994. The ANC has proved racists like Hendrick Verwoerd correct all the while simply trying to steal and pay off their supporters. There has been no national consciousness, there has been no national philosophy, there has been no national spirit; all we have had is a series of smash and grab robberies conducted with the assent of the ANC and with no sophistication whatsoever.

The point of all of this is to contextualise the demand for patriotism from the corrupt committees of the sinking ship ANC. These corrupt committees that represent and manage have splattered excuses and drivel upon the political stage with no consideration for the fact of the audience or for the interpretation of the theme. Throughout the public sector and in and among the empowered private sector, the concept of the corrupt committee is to steal and to reallocate resources for the benefit of the few. This is not democracy, this is kleptocracy. The ANC abandoned Masakhane for Theft. Now we are asked to surrender our healthcare system, our pensions, our property and our freedom in the interests of further “liberation dividends” for the few. We are asked to ignore the malfeasance of the past and the continuous string of qualified audits to commit ourselves to the process of stripping what is left of the productive private sector economy for the benefit of those who want to eat without working. It is this issue of not wanting to work that is the biggest problem. Employed people want jobs not work, want wages and salaries not work, want benefits and entitlements not work and want status and access not work. South Africa was liberated because someone (or a group of someones) forced the NP to negotiate with the ANC. Instead the NP made the ANC accept that the NP would make deals with the African Homelands, and that the ANC would be the vehicle for African politics thereafter, drawing support in the main from the African townships in South Africa, and later from the African Homelands. The cost of this support has been to gut the state, the government, the republic and the union of South Africa and to render it completely bankrupt.

Masakhane would have saved South Africa from apartheid and from the tribalism that prevails today just under the surface of the corruption. It is only a matter of time until we have nothing with which to pay our creditors, the economy grinds to a halt, the informal sector finds illicit ways around Value-Added-Tax (VAT), the government doesn’t have money to pay its wage-bill or to fund its developmental trough programs and the people, still demanding their further “liberation dividend”, become convinced that they have been and are being robbed. This is the potential civil insurrection that terrifies the ANC, who historically, currently and for the foreseeable future pay to govern, by stealing for its people (overpaying wages in terms of the actual work production is a form of stealing); so much so that they will do anything to avoid it. The ten groups of traditional leaders descendent from the ten African Homelands only support the ANC in part because the ANC feeds them, if the ANC were to stop feeding them their support would be withheld. Is this really a danger, is this really a threat to the ANC? Yes, for three reasons. Firstly the ANC does not have Masakhane or anything similar to enable it to stand on its own. Secondly the traditional leaders control through violence the voting of their people and there is no way for the ANC to protect against, stop or prevent this. Thirdly, according to the Nigerians who sell Juju in South Africa, the African South Africans, being the South African Bantus, are dead, like zombies, and are operated by their employers, failing whom their traditional leaders, failing whom their churches (or funded organisations if any) and failing whom criminals from Sabela of the prison numbers gangs; and as such are susceptible to being used without much difficulty.

All this points to a forthcoming demand that we remember our patriotic duty and surrender what we have to pay the next round of the “liberation dividends”, hopefully selling the land, and the empowered mineral rights, and control thereof through the puppet state, to our trade partner creditors will buy us an extended credit facility to continue borrowing and spending for the purpose of buying support for the ANC. This demand is assuredly forthcoming, as it has already been presaged by a declaration of intent in the form of National Health Insurance (NHI), Public Investment Commissioner Bailout (PIC bailout) and Expropriation Without Compensation (EWC). The people have a choice, to either give up the ideals of Masakhane completely, not even to talk about nation building in any way whatsoever, or to reject the ANC at the polls, and remove the ANC from its developmental trough corruption parade. The fact is that the ANC has demonstrated cowardice at every turn since the negotiations with the NP began in the mid 1980’s. The fact is that the ANC has demonstrated cowardice at every turn since the negotiations with the NP became official in 1990. The fact is that the ANC has demonstrated cowardice at every turn in the run up to and since the democratic election of 1994. The fact is that the ANC has demonstrated cowardice at every turn since the negotiations with the NP resulted in the democratic constitution in 1996. But most of all the ANC has demonstrated cowardice at every turn in its inability to avoid or evade the resowing of apartheid in its various guises and in its inability to protect against, stop and prevent the stealing and corruption that has completely ruined both the public sector and the private sector.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the coward and the ANC will prove this by refusing to stop the corruption, because they depend on it, and by demanding that those who have, surrender what they have, in the national interest as their patriotic duty, to enable the ANC to keep paying “liberation dividends” to those who want to eat without working. Do not be cowed by these demands. Do not allow your love for South Africa to inform a patriotism that is the final and ultimate ruin of South Africa. Who knows, if we concede to this demand for patriotism, having bankrupted the state, the ANC will then ask us to patriotically support the dissolution of the republic and the floating of a new republic, replete with new institutions and with a new constitution that does not stipulate to freedom, rights and responsibilities; but which rather entrenches the ANC and its corruption, burdening South Africa into the hereafter. The ANC did not liberate South Africa, those who believe in work and who believe that work is salvation liberated South Africa, those who believe in justice and who believe in the rule of law liberated South Africa, those who believe in God and who believe in praising God not leaders liberated South Africa and those who believe in compassion and who believe in helping those in dire need liberated South Africa; by forcing the NP to negotiate; as such we don’t owe the ANC and its people a “liberation dividend” of any sort in any way whatsoever. Ignore the calls to patriotism, show the cowards the out at the polls.