[Debate] A million-rand car and the battle for the soul of the alliance (Anthony Butler, BusinessDay)
gus.gosling at gmail.com
Mon May 25 20:28:21 BST 2009
In response to Peter's question (he gave the car back)
The Minister of Transport S’bu Ndebele has accepted a R1.1 million Mercedes
Benz S500 from a group of contractors with contracts worth more than R400
million in the department, the Star reports.
Transport Minister’s gift car: Zuma must act
Ndebele on hotline to taxi
‘The president will not accept
Vukuzakhe contractors threw a farewell party for Ndebele at the Woodburn
Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, apparently honouring the former
KwaZulu Natal premier for his contribution in creating a platform for small
contractors to emerge.
Among other gifts Ndebele received was a herd of cattle.
However, Ndebele’s acceptance of the Mercedes was greeted with calls from
the KwaZulu-Natal’s Democratic Alliance to return the vehicle. The DA said
that the gesture could be in conflict of interest.
But Ndebele defended the gesture by the contractors and said it was planned
long before he and the contractors became aware that he would be appointed
into the Transport portfolio.
2009/5/25 Gus Gosling <gus.gosling at gmail.com>
> There seem to be a problem with the setup of the list at fahamu; on the old
> list when you replied to a message you replied to the DEBATE list, now it
> seems one ends up replying only to the original poster.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: peter waterman <pwaterma at inter.nl.net>
> Date: 2009/5/25
> Subject: Re: [Debate] A million-rand car and the battle for the soul of the
> alliance (Anthony Butler, BusinessDay)
> To: Gus Gosling <gus.gosling at gmail.com>
> I really ought to have the back story here since I don't know who gave this
> gift, or 'gift', to Ndebele.
> For that matter, I ought to wait to see whether the dog referred to will at
> least bark.
> But the question that occurs to me is this: what would have to happen for
> the SACP and Cosatu to a) resign from this government and b) from the
> In the case of the Soviet Union, my father used to say he would stop
> identifying with it, 'when they give the land back to the landlords'.
> Unfortunately for him, the CPSU only admitted wiping out Jewish culture and
> killing his Soviet friend, Solomon Mikhoels, chairman of the Jewish
> Anti-Fascist Committee <
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Anti-Fascist_Committee>. Later the
> CPSU/Soviet State invaded Czechoslovakia and reproduced in Afghanistan the
> USA's criminal and disastrous war imperial war in Vietnam. It was only after
> the Soviet Union collapsed that the land was handed back, if not to the
> landlords, then to the market. Fortunately for my dad, he didn't live to see
> The point is that one does not, in South Africa, have to wait for the ANC
> to hand power back to an Apartheid regime. Terrible things (reproducing past
> South African or other African experience) can happen, and are evidently
> happening, without such a reversal.
> So unless the SACP and Cosatu are eternally and unconditionally tied to the
> apron strings of the ANC, there must be some conditions under which they
> would break away.
> It would be good for us to know what these might be.
> Gus Gosling wrote:
>> A million-rand car and the battle for the soul of the alliance ANTHONY
>> BUTLER PUBLISHED: 2009/05/25 06:54:12 AM
>> As the transport minister flirted with his ‘gift’, SACP cadres in Zuma’s
>> government were bound to keep silent
>> TRANSPORT Minister S’bu Ndebele’s flirtation with a Mercedes-Benz S500 had
>> all the hallmarks of a public relations exercise. But what exactly was the
>> point that citizens were supposed to glean from his display of contempt
>> their intelligence?
>> It seems most plausible that Ndebele was publicly kicking a dog that could
>> not bark. As he longingly caressed the contours of his S500, the cadres of
>> the South African Communist Party (SACP) were obliged by their new
>> ministerial obligations to remain silent.
>> Forty years ago this month, the African National Congress (ANC) concluded
>> historic consultative conference at Morogoro in Tanzania. Morogoro marked
>> significant turning point because the SACP was brought into the broader
>> liberation alliance led by the ANC. As the SACP quickly became the
>> organisational force within the movement, its activists no doubt believed
>> they were “communists”. When Soviet tanks rolled into Prague in 1968, for
>> example, they applauded. (The citizens of Prague were less enthusiastic:
>> “Why is Czechoslovakia the most neutral country in the world?” they joked.
>> “Because it doesn’t even interfere in its own internal affairs.”)
>> Their most penetrating historical insights have also been deeply
>> conservative. SACP intellectuals have worried, above all, that the ANC
>> throw off colonial rule only to become a parasitic elite itself, no less
>> dependent than the former oppressors on the looting of state resources.
>> “Strategy and Tactics” document they persuaded the ANC to adopt at
>> insisted that “our nationalism must not be confused with the classical
>> by an elitist group among the oppressed people to gain ascendancy so that
>> they can replace the oppressor in the exploitation of the masses”.
>> When the SACP recently recognised that Thabo Mbeki ’s faction was seeking
>> extend its control over the liberation movement and the state more or less
>> in perpetuity, it adopted Jacob Zuma ’s cause. Zuma’s rise, however,
>> merely the composition and not the character of an increasingly predatory
>> For this reason, the SACP and its allies in the Congress of South African
>> Trade Unions (Cosatu) have argued for more active regulation of public
>> representatives’ behaviour. Ministers and officials must be prevailed upon
>> to avoid external directorships that eat up their time and energy and
>> conflicts of interest. Revolving doors between public and private sectors
>> must no longer be allowed to turn.
>> The SACP and Cosatu have also insisted that public representatives must
>> accept gifts from companies that benefit from their relationships with
>> government. There is no defence, they have argued, for public officials
>> believe they are entitled to gifts in return for performing their
>> (well-paid) state duties.
>> Ndebele offered a spurious argument concerning “African culture” when he
>> claimed that on this continent “you don’t throw the thing back in the face
>> of people”. It is in fact rude in any culture to throw gifts back at those
>> who have offered them — this is precisely why ministers and officials must
>> not create the impression that such gifts are welcome or even minimally
>> An argument of potentially major significance is clearly raging within the
>> tripartite alliance around the issue. The ANC confessed on Friday that it
>> lacked mechanisms for dealing with questionable conduct on the part of its
>> representatives and that it might in future take “punitive measures”
>> offenders. ANC spokesman Lindiwe Zulu told the Sunday Times that “you
>> take gifts knowing that the people who are giving you gifts want
>> Zuma’s deliberate non-decision concerning Ndebele’s supposed gift dilemma,
>> however, implies that ministers will probably continue to regulate their
>> conduct. This means that the SACP’s project of curtailing the abuse of
>> power may already be dead in the water.
>> Ndebele even had time to make what appeared to be a joke at the expense of
>> incoming SACP ministers by referring to the perks of office they too will
>> now enjoy: “The (director-general) tells me that we have a very good car
>> scheme. I can get a car to the value of more than R1m — and I think for
>> deputy ministers it is R850000.”
>> Jeremy Cronin, Blade Nzimande and others were presumably reminded of the
>> Cold War Yugoslav joke about reformist socialism — What is the difference
>> between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia? In the Soviet Union, the people
>> walk while their political representatives drive cars. In Yugoslavia, the
>> people themselves drive cars through their political representatives.
>> Butler teaches public policy at UCT.
>> Debate-list mailing list
>> Debate-list at fahamu.org
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