ANC members in particular and Eastern Cape residents in general must be a dumb lot, to leave their daily chores to listen to ANC leader Jacob Zuma delivering “empty promises”. This will bring them nothing but penury and suffering as a result of decreased investor confidence, inflation and lack of entrepreneurial incentives such as tax cuts and will also exacerbate rather than ameliorate economic anarchy, media reports inferred before and after the ANC manifesto rally in the Eastern Cape.
Consistent with this line of reporting, the Sunday Times protested, “It will trigger tax hikes” and then went on to detail how dangerous this ANC manifesto is to “rich” South Africans. Following the cue from the Sunday Times, subsidiary newspapers during the week had a field day. The Daily Dispatch to the Daily Sun attacked the manifesto and only differed on emphasis. This is in total contrast to the romantic manner in which the same media institutions report about Congress of the People (Cope), which often borders on open support.
Lest I be accused of media hatred, let me state that I like Mondli Makhanya and the Sunday Times a great deal. This is regardless of the paper’s editorial orientation, which I find perturbing, let alone its editor’s dubious decision to fire David Bullard who, for a long time I believed, made us understand what some racist white South Africans really think of us, beyond the curtain and glory of the “rainbow nation”.
While I like Makhanya and his paper, I have lost even the iota of compassion I felt towards the Daily Dispatch. Its bias and agenda is disgusting and hidden only to the eyes of those who have consciously decided to remain oblivious to an agenda unfolding right before our eyes. How could these media institutions treat the most basic needs of South Africans with such derision and cold hearted petty bourgeois economic calculation? To them, everything is deducible to a price and who pays for it matters most, than the beneficiary!
For that matter, did the ANC say it will increase tax? This manifesto is also far less incisive. It is clearly a compromise between the left and the right in the party. To sensationally arrogate it as a triumph for the left within the party is nothing but an unpalatable lie. This lie ca only survive because it is told by arrogant newspapers whose main aim is to let nothing get in the way of a good story.
To crown it all, the Sunday Times protested about the costly nature of the ANC election manifesto even before it was officially released, making wild accusations so as to create alarm and discontent at something that had not yet been seen by anyone else but its drafters.
Costly? To whom is this manifesto costly? Is it the man on the street or to cigar smoking and whisky drinking highfliers who are sniffing the joys of democracy as if it were cocaine while masses languish in penury who, by the look of things, shall remain there if the Sunday Times has its way? What the ANC is simply requesting is that the wealthy must throw at least some crumbs to the poor majority. Is that too much to ask? People have forgotten the story of Mary Antoinette and the cause of the French Revolution!
Back to the Sunday Times and its anti-tax campaign. While quick to impugn the motives of the ruling party, it has not managed even a lowly sentence of protest at those who rake millions out of the sweat and blood of poor South Africans, then run successful gambling attempts in the New York and London stock markets while leaving the country that produced them, impoverished and downtrodden. Only a heartless and purely selfish society of the Sunday Times making can come to a conclusion that attempts to curb poverty through increased child support grants and other similar alternatives is unrealistic and irresponsible.
Hold on here, who does the Sunday Times really serve? The answer can be found in the angles of its stories.
For example, while the paper is vociferous against the possibility of the ANC manifesto increasing taxation, it conceals the fact that its agenda is to defend profit maximisation, which is threatened by the prospect of increased government spending because it might mean more taxation on the rich. But, it is careful that it might get exposed, so it pursues its agenda under the pretext of defence for the ordinary tax payer.
Its report does not speak about possibilities of collecting tax without affecting poor individuals and businesses such as granting immunity from tax increases to businesses and individuals within a particular profit or salary range. Instead, the Sunday Times combines tax on rich people and businesses with that on poor people and poor businesses and presents it as one grievance so as to mobilise popular sympathy. Clearly that approach will go no further than the ink and paper it was written on and will in no way sway electoral choices as I suspect the Sunday Times was attempting to achieve.
This attempt and many others shall not go unnoticed and unpunished. With this I do not suggest that either the Sunday Times or the Daily Dispatch need my support for survival. By the way, they do not survive through my meagre subscription but rake in millions through adverts, so they need the capitalist more than they need poor like me and many others that the ANC manifesto is aimed at, hence their understandable bias to the one who pays them rent and salaries.
However, lowly as I am, one thing is for sure — to solicit adverts from marketing firms, they need me to increase their circulation so as to appear a credible force. I do not suggest that the ANC manifesto must be romanticised or accepted without scrutiny. That would be plainly wrong and unhelpful. However, it is noticeable that media institutions put themselves squarely on the side of rich classes in the South African contest for resources and survival. History shall remember them harshly as it did of their support for apartheid policies which they later denied, profusely.
But, one thing is for sure: the ANC faces an uphill battle. The media is powerful. Those who contest its will do that at their own peril. The ANC is no different. Those of us who hope it does survive can only wish it luck and close our eyes as it goes head on against its enemy.