The ‘coup’ big lie is a threat to civil rights

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By Andile Lungisa

The Nazi propagandist Joseph Geobbels asserted that “It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise. By using propaganda skillfully any delusion can become fact”.

Yesterday I was summoned and interrogated by police intelligence and the Hawks from the ‘national office’ for my role in the supposed ‘coup’/ ‘insurrection’ attempt.

The current government has decided to recklessly characterize the protests that turned violent against the unjust arrest of President Jacob Zuma to have been an attempted coup. The initial prognosis of the unrest by the government was that of ‘ethnic mobilization’. They were forced to abandoned that careless and divisive characterisation by events and backlash from wider society. Coup attempt appear to be where they’re prepared to sacrifice what’s left of their credibility.

In the interrogation by the organs of the State, I was accused of having assembled an arsenal for the purpose of overthrowing the State. This is of course an outright lie. Not only is this allegation baseless, I have never handled a weapon in my life. The next charge was that I broke Covid-19 regulations that are routinely broken by millions of people in the country and the offending parties are usually penalised with a fine if the police pursue them. The last charge was that I opposed President Jacob Zuma’s arrest. On the last charge I am in good company with the minority judgement of the Constitutional Court.

I offered the interrogating officers my phone to download whatever information could assist them in their investigation. They declined. I done so with a clean conscience of knowing that I was not party to any coup attempt. I was supportive of the protests against the unjust arrest of President Zuma but I never advocated for any violence.

I was told to go to the police station today where I would be given my official charge sheet and that I should appear in court on Friday. I have just returned from the police station and I have only been charged with contravention of Covid regulations.
As I was leaving the police last night , one of the interrogators told me that the professionals in the security service also don’t believe in what he called the ‘stupid coup story’ but are under political pressure from their seniors to make arrests on that charge.

I will of course continue to fight against this attempted intimidation and criminalization of political dissent. I will sue the State if they harm my reputation by painting me as a coup plotter. It would have been interesting for the State to make the charge of ‘insurrection’ because it would have given me an opportunity to cross examine the politicians that have caused all this anarchy.