By: Clyde Ramalaine
-Black lives will never matter where white interest is defended at all costs –
President Cyril Ramaphosa since his March 24th announcement of an impending announcement appeared before South Africa in the life a COVID-19 lockdown at least five times. During each of these addresses, the President never entertained any questions on anything he pronounced on. This was a president increasingly fueled by positional power instead of democratic leadership. Yet, the very forgiving South African society tolerated this authoritarian attitude of a man who perhaps for the first time since his ascend to SA presidential leadership in February 2018 was now leading.
While South Africans forgave the man, I dubbed a COVID-19 Lockdown emperor, his silence on the killing of black South Africans at the hand of his lockdown police and soldiers dare not be forgiven. From the first act of violence, abuse and dehumanizing of black South-Africans Ramaphosa remained quiet. When police and soldiers made township residents to roll in the mud, kicking them on their backsides and make them engage in stupid physical exercises Ramaphosa was silent. When an ANC Mayor of Welkom Nkosinyati Speelman, in racist mind, instructed the deployed soldiers, to act against residents of Bronville [an apartheid classified Coloured Township] Ramaphosa was silent. He failed to hold accountable his Minister of Defense Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the Head of Defence General Solly Shoke.
Ramaphosa was silent three days into Lockdown when an Ekurhuleni based Sibusiso Amos a 41-year-old black adult male while standing on the veranda of his Vosloorus home was shot and killed by a police officer assisted by a private security officer. Ramaphosa was silent when Collins Khosa a resident of Alexandra Township was murdered by soldiers, he never said a word about this injustice and murder. At least 11 people including a 7-year-old died at the hands of police and soldiers during COVID-19 lockdown, and the smiling public relations obsessed President is yet to speak up or address himself to any of these.
To appreciate the mediocre and insensitive mind of South Africa’s president we hear him in his May 30, 2020, SANEF address when he about the actions of the police asserts, “they let their enthusiasm get the better of them.” South Africans hear its president in this farcical and nonsensical comment when black lives are snuffed out not by an Apartheid State but by a Democratic State led by a black president. His nonchalant indifferent remarks does not remotely register a rebuke constitutes his response to this brutality.
On Memorial Day May 26, 2020, Derek Chauvin aided by three fellow police officers held his knee on the neck of George Floyd for more than 8 minutes and 45 seconds, despite the plea of a man memorialized in ‘I can’t breathe…’ Chauvin pranced hand in pocket with a knee on Floyd’s neck. He did so even though bystanders told him he was killing Floyd. He did so even though Floyd was calling on his deceased mother for help as he felt life being snuffed out. This heinous and demonic crime is not unknown in America when we remember a litany of names: Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Freddy Gray, Sam Du Bose, Alton Sterling to name a few. These were all killed by racist white police officers for being black. Since Floyd’s murder America and the globe are up in arms with protest now on Day 13.
What then does Collins Khosa have in common with George Floyd?
Floyd died on Memorial- Day, a federal holiday in the United States for honouring and mourning the military personnel who had died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Khosa died on Good Friday the most significant day in the Christian Calendar, marking the death of Jesus Christ who died for the sins of all. Both Floyd and Khosa were adult males. Both are black adult males that lived in ghetto communities that systems of discrimination and racism produced. Both Khosa and Floyd were loving partners to those whom they shared a life with.
Khosa was reclining at his supper table when he was accosted by two soldiers who entered the house with sjamboks seeking for him as a violator of Lockdown rules for consuming alcohol in his yard. After turning the house upside down and only finding to beer bottles, these soldiers ordered Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango to go outside the yard where Khosa died.
Both Khosa and Floyd were failed by their presidents.
Some will protest a comparison between Donald J Trump and Cyril M. Ramaphosa, yet the facts speak for themselves. Trump acted a fool in being indifferent to the death of Floyd, he chose to focus on the peripheral issues with no appetite to address this murder. Ramaphosa, on the other hand, may not have been as brazen as Trump but his noticeable indifference to the death of Khosa and all others under his COVID- 19 lockdown leadership is no less glaring. Instead, Ramaphosa with his SANEF address reduces this brutality to enthusiasm. It is even possible to do a comparison between Trump and Ramaphosa in leadership as not dissimilar. Shall we dare to ask if in a hypothetical sense if George Floyd was a white person, how Trump would have responded? In SA, whites, for the last 26 years remain more privileged, and simply don’t die at the hand of any police or army brutality under lockdown when they equally break every COVID-19 lockdown regulation. Would Ramaphosa have been this silent in condemning police brutality had Khosa been white? Would Ramaphosa have given instructions for an investigation? Yet he remained silent and his silence communicates a gross lack of empathy and support for black victims of his lockdown implementers. This is what Ramaphosa will be remembered for.
Ramaphosa stood a cold and callous when he failed to hitherto gather the courage to mention the names of Collins Khosa, Sibusiso Amos, Elma Robbyn Montsumi, Petrus Miggels Adance Emmanuel and Ntando Elias Sigasa. These are the names of those we know who allegedly died at the hand of a COVID-19 lockdown leadership of Ramaphosa. He is notorious for publicly claiming success of a lockdown as saving lives, yet silent to equally own these murders under his watch. The same he hitherto cannot get himself to speak on.
Ramaphosa’s silence on Khosa and others involuntarily reminds me of the words of the apartheid police minister Jimmy Kruger who upon hearing of the death of Biko told the Nationalist Party Congress, “…his [Biko] death leaves me cold”. It’s not that far-fetched to compare Ramaphosa’s statement on police brutality acting as overtaken by enthusiasm, with that of Kruger, these are not mutually exclusive. In each instance, it was a black life that tragically was ended at the hands of police and army brutality. Biko’s murder was the murder of a black man the father of black consciousness. Collins Khosa’s murder was the murder of a black male in his own house by soldiers. Biko stood for his rights and was vocal about it. We learned Khosa protested the application of the COVID-19 Lockdown rules and regulations as it relates to the circumference of his home.
Why then is it possible for Ramaphosa to be this indifferent on the death of Khosa and others?
Is it possible that Ramaphosa is left cold with the 11 deaths allegedly committed by his police and soldiers in the era where he claims to be active in saving lives from a novel COVID-19 virus? Are there any links to be naturally drawn between the COVID-19 Lockdown police brutality deaths and the notorious 2012 Marikana massacre, where he gave instructions of ‘concomitant action’? Would Ramaphosa ever have given such instructions if these were white miners? I don’t have to guess about this president, he is consistently absent to defend black lives, perhaps because black lives do not matter to this man, despite him being black. Let us not forget Cyril owes his political identity to the White Monopoly Capital birthed Urban Foundation when we hear Irene, wife of Clive Menell tell us long ago he was adopted as a ‘charity gesture’.
Under his leadership, ANC continues to focus on small and irrelevant things such as seeking to control and manage the social media of some of its members. One is forced to conclude that some in the ANC leadership think it their inalienable and central task to act as ANC social media police. It is not strange to notice the factional identity and agenda that drives their actions albeit in false shades of working for unity.
Is the ANC failing to keep Ramaphosa accountable?
Another reason why the Ramaphosa leadership is this callous about black deaths at the hand of his lockdown police and soldiers stems from the fact that the ANC in leadership fails to him keep him accountable. The ANC in National Office Bearers, National Executive Committee or other fora simple don’t discuss the notorious arrogance of inebriated politicians like Bheki Cele, one who is obsessed to militarise the police service by giving himself a title of general. Cele, the one who continues threatening SA citizens at the hand of what a Court declared nonsensical and constitutionally challenging regulations.
It appears the ANC has no appetite to discuss the 11 lockdown murders of which Khosa is the public face. In these trying times of economic crisis, an untransformed white-controlled economy, insane unemployment numbers and health challenge the ANC in leadership spent more than time to discuss its Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina in a tweet of his support for the EFF leader Julius Malema on the latter’s assertion white monopoly capital should be left to collapse.
The ANC appears rather interested to discuss those who stand for its 2017 adopted resolutions as problematic. The ANC of Ramaphosa reduce anyone who seeks to speaks on Radical Economic Transformation (RET) as anti-Ramaphosa. It goes out of its way to harass, label and demonise those who seek to remind the ANC of its 2017 resolutions. It is as if RET is in this season an automatic cursed word.
Over a long period of observing it is becoming increasing clear that the ANC DSG Jessie Duarte is one wholly obsessed to target and control some in the ANC as it relates to their social media opinions and views. She appears to have usurped the role of the Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, who remained as silent as the night for the greater part of this lockdown episode. Duarte understands that nature accommodates no vacuums, so she has acted as SG because the SG is silent. Duarte sounds like she has a mandate to be to the social- media police officer of the ANC, yet when angry she resorts to the same social media spaces to vent against others and she conveniently ignores the actions of others we not sure for what political reasons.
Is it any wonder why COVID-19 regulations attests a comedy of inconsistent errors infringing on the constitutional rights of citizens? One would imagine the ANC leaders to lead in keeping its government and ministers to their feet to ensure human rights and the constitution are upheld and respected. The latter is now outsourced to the courts because the ANC leaders in this era wholly infiltrated by white interest to defend white monopoly capital ready to rebuke anyone who addresses white privilege.
It is an ANC leadership that don’t question its strange loyalty to whiteness and WMC but will question a black politician who agrees with another black politician from a different party.
So Ramaphosa is afforded to be hypocritical to have an opinion on George Floyd as murdered by USA racist police brutality when he is allowed by the ANC and his cohort of supporters to be silent on the murder of Collins Khosa and others. He is silent when the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in its internal report exonerates soldiers implicated on the death of Khosa.
Ramaphosa in his address to SANEF last Sunday said it all when he again failed to own up to the deaths of blacks that died at the hand of lockdown police and soldier brutality. He thus cannot speak on George Floyd’s murder. His silence on Collins Khosa disqualified him to have a voice on George Floyd.