If you can’t beat them Angie Motshekga, don’t frame them
This was in reference to how the pipe-smoking former president used to deal with his adversaries. Who can forget how Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa were once accused of cooking a plot to oust Mbeki? Although this was obvious bull dust and twaddle, our sole thinker pursued this conspiracy to a point of hounding the three temporarily men out of politics, in the process making sure that South Africa would not have a credible successor to him.
It is history that nothing came out of this conspiracy theory. If anything, Ramaphosa has resurfaced as the second most powerful person in the governing ANC with a realistic chance of at least contesting for presidency in the next party elections.
It would appear our erratic education minister Angie Motshekga has learnt nothing from Mbeki. Or is it that she learnt too much she could not decipher flatulence from excellence? Facing a barrage of criticism from many quarters for failing to do her job properly, Angie launched into the easiest defence of those that are obviously losing their fight, she framed the adversary.
In a moment she should soon forget (even though she is currently digging in her heels), Motshekga last week accused the non-governmental organisation, Equal Education of being “a group of white adults organising black African children with half-truths”.
Equal Education’s sins? It filed court papers – for the second time in two years – asking the court to force Motshekga to publish norms and standards of education, which have been in the pipeline for a while now.
Quoted in the Mail and Guardian newspaper, Equal Education says publishing the legally binding document is crucial because it will define what infrastructure at South Africa’s 25 000 schools should be. The minister and communities can then use the regulation to hold provincial governments accountable for providing facilities that are conducive to learning in providing them with facilities that are conducive to learning – “a far cry from the current state of thousands of schools”.
And for this, Equal Education is hounded as scoundrels and rogues that are using black children to drive their nefarious agendas. Okay, these are my words, but you catch the drift. For the record, the NGO has denied it is a white organisation and its head is Yoliswa Dwane. Of course the fact that it has a black leader, does not necessarily make it a black organisation.
Motshekga may very well be right that Equal Education is white. For me that is a moot point. South Africa is a multi-racial country and there is no law that prohibits the existence of white organisations, and certainly none that forces them not to champion black causes.
I would rather more black people champion their causes – especially against government – but I do have time for white people who invest their time and resources to redress the imbalances of the past, even if it means taking a black government to court.
And in defence of Motshekga, I don’t think her utterances were racist. There is nothing wrong with accusing someone as white if they are white. And if they are not white, it is simply a mistake, not a statement of racism.
But Motshekga lost the plot, like Mbeki before her, and many other government leaders who when they are supposed to deal with issues, they obfuscate and attack adversaries.
In my book I quote US Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Junior who once said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” We now know where Motshekga stands at times of challenge, in the conspiracy corner.
Let me conclude by paraphrasing the conclusion I used in my book about Mbeki, hoping that Motshekga and her advisors would take heed and not accuse me of being a black man used by white interests. Former British Prime Minister captured this sentiment better when he said: “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it; but in the end, there it is!”
To maintain some level of integrity, here’s my free advice to our minister:
1. Rise above petty politics. And not associate with lies and malice
2. Retain a level of honour even when dealing with opponents
3. Disassociate yourself from underhanded actions and things that smack of conspiracies or smear campaign
4. Do not allow your name to be used in what seems like faction-fighting or a power struggle
5. If you suspect there is a semblance of foul play, do your homework before making public statements that make an ass of you
6. As your first duty, instil confidence in your leadership, rather than attack phantom enemies.