ANC members’ anger with fake news and lies justifiable

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The fake news and lies peddled against the ANC and its leaders should be denounced and protested against, while upholding the democratic principles of our constitutional state

There is understandably a lot of anger among members of the African National Congress
(ANC) about the book Gangster State – Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture by
Pieter-Louis Myburgh.

There can no doubt that the publication of this book with it’s web of lies was carefully planned to coincide with the final period of intensive election campaigning that the ANC is now engaged with, in the run-up to the elections of the 8th of May 2019.

Ultimately the intention of this book is to undermine the ANC’s election campaign, and to
attack the Office of the Secretary General, which is the administrative engine room of the
ANC, and specifically to attack the Secretary General in person as the CEO of the ANC.

Evidently the intention is to target and to try to destroy the very heart of the ANC, and to
prevent the ANC from gaining another decisive election victory. It is certainly no coincidence that this book was made possible through a generous grant from the Taco Kuiper Fund, through the facilitation of one Anton Harber. Comrade Winnie Madikizela Mandela identified the very same Anton Harber as one of the key people who led the Stratcom campaign against her, and that Harber and the Weekly Mail (now Mail & Guardian) that he founded, in general did Stratcom work.

The malicious attack launched by this book on the Secretary General must also be seen in
the overall context of propaganda attacks against the leadership of the ANC at national,
provincial and regional levels, having increased to the point where these attacks have now
become the order of the day. Such attacks are often carried by the media with screaming
headlines and no attempt to verify the veracity of the allegations against the ANC leadership.

Evidently the intention is to character assassinate the leadership of the ANC, and to inflict
the maximum possible damage on the organization. Some journalists show no attempt to
conduct themselves with professional restraint and to report objectively. In fact there are
those journalists who have joined the political fray as opponents of the ANC and who see
their duty not as reporting objectively and fairly on the election campaigns of the ANC and
other political parties, but to try and destroy the ANC.

The principle of ANC members defending the integrity of our 107 year old Liberation
Movement is well established and one that should be cherished. In the current context of
malicious attacks on the ANC using fake news and Stratcom tactics one cannot blame ANC
members from being angered, and wanting to defend their beloved Movement. The people’s love for the ANC should be warmly appreciated. There is a well known revolutionary solidarity principle, that an injury to one is an injury to all.

We saw that principle in action when ordinary rank and file ANC members descended last
Tuesday on Exclusive Books in Sandton City where Gangster State was officially launched.
The anger and indignation of those ANC supporters, who displayed posters demanding
“Hands off our SG’’, and referring to the book as a Strat com operation was palatable. They
have clearly had enough, and on a grass roots level they were taking matters into their own hands to defend the leadership of their beloved Movement, the ANC, against the relentless fake news attacks.

It is significant to note that the audience at the book launch were overwhelmingly white, and that the author of Gangster State as well as the Taco Kuiper Foundation who paid Myburgh and Anton Harber, who facilitated the payment, are all white. The protesters who descended on Exclusive Books to register their displeasure with this white driven propaganda against their black leaders, were overwhelmingly black (and primarily African). Not only was there the a clear black white divide, this was also the protest of ordinary, mainly poor black people, (the proverbial ‘little people’), against primarily white big money (monopoly capital) interests.

Myburgh’s book is an attack tool instigated and funded by White Monopoly Capital (WMC)
against one of their most impeccable opponents, in the person the Secretary General of the
ANC, and who is a fearless and articulate proponent of Radical Economic Transformation
(RET). The relentless attacks by WMC against Ace Magashule must be seen in the
consternation and displeasure of WMC when he was elected as the Secretary General (SG)
of the ANC at its 54th National Conference.

Their subsequent relentless attacks on Magashule, and their persistent attempts to get him removed from the position of Secretary General of the ANC, reflects the unbridled arrogance of WMC who believe that they can dictate to the ANC who it’s leaders should be.

Ultimately this was the issue at stake in the protest at the book launch: rank-and-file ANC members were telling arrogant selfopinionated rich whites that the ANC is not theirs, and that they will not be allowed any further to interfere with the people’s leadership choices. A very clear line was drawn in the proverbial sand. The unequivocal message was that this had gone too far: Back off! Up to here, and no further!

Important and laudable as defending the leadership, unity and integrity of the ANC is, how
such defense manifests itself in practice is equally important. There should be no disjuncture between the principle of closing ranks and defending the ANC against unjust and malicious attacks, and remaining committed to the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of association in our constitutional democracy, where I will not only defend my own right to speak and belong to a particular political party, but also the rights of my ideological opponents even when I disagree with their views. No other political organization in South Africa fought harder for these fundamental rights than the African National Congress.

Members of the ANC were arrested, tortured, imprisoned – and some even executed by the
hangmen of the apartheid regime – in their pursuit for a free and just democratic society.
How ANC members now fight for these fundamental rights not to be abused, nor
compromised, is an essential part of the character of the ANC and nothing should ever
comprise it.

Thus, while protesting, and demonstrating, against the vicious attacks on the ANC by
members and supporters of the ANC is perfectly acceptable, it is also important that such
protests should be peaceful, disciplined and legal. At all times any protest action must not
undermine, but actually enhance and nurture, the ANC’s commitment to freedom of speech
and strengthen our young democracy.

ANC members and supporters who are justifiably angry about fake news attack books, such
as Myburgh’s Gangster State, and many other attacks, must channel their anger with
discipline to find expression within the acceptable legal parameters as defined by our
Constitution. Anything illegal, and limiting to the right to freedom of speech by other citizens must be avoided.

The protest at Exclusive Books did actually adhere to these principles. The protesters were
displaying their posters, and chanting their slogans in favor of, and in protection of their
leader, and directed their ire directly at the fake news book they were denouncing. No other
property was damaged, nor was anyone’s safety and well-being threatened. It is in the
nature of these kinds of protests that they can be a bit noisy and rowdy, but that does not
make them illegal of unconstitutional. It was intended to cause the red-faced hyperventilating whites, who had gathered for their anti-Ace Magashule ritual, discomfort and to challenge them head-on, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – democracy is not a high-tea with porcelain tea cups and white table cloths in the well manicured gardens of leafy suburbs.

There are always attempts by those who are discomforted and upset by such protests to try and describe them as ‘illegal’, and thuggery, while trying to justify their own thuggery. It is in fact the height of arrogant thuggery to call the Secretary General of the ANC a gangster on the basis of unsubstantiated propaganda. Such disingenuousness and fake legalistic sophistry should never be allowed to undermine the perfectly legal right of all citizens to protest and articulate their views. The ANC must always defend and support the democratic right of our members and supporters to protect the Liberation Movement that they love.

While the ANC’s over cautious response to this grassroots people’s protest, which resulted
in a statement condemning the Exclusive Books protest, can be understood in the context
of the upcoming elections, and a legitimate fear that it could be framed as anti-free speech
by the White Monopoly Capital (WMC) controlled mainstream media, it unfortunately went
too far. Similarly was ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa’s knee-jerk condemnation of the
protest at the launch of the OR Tambo School of Leadership, way over the top in its
hyperbolic description as being “totally alien to the character of the ANC”.

Once again the ANC seemed to allow itself to be forced onto the back-foot, and to respond not the reality of what actually happened but to a false propaganda narrative framed by the mainstream media. To allow their opposition to frame the narrative, and therefore actually choose the terrain of the struggle and he rules of engagement, is an old weakness of the ANC, which worsened under Ramaphosa’s leadership with all its neo-liberal tendencies. If the ANC does not stop this tendency of sliding towards neo-liberalism in its tracks quickly, it is in grave danger to loose its defining character as a Liberation Movement.

There is no need for this knee-jerk over compensation and bending over backwards to
ingratiate oneself with White Monopoly Capital, and their neo-liberal values, because we are fortunately living in a law-based constitutional state. The members and supporters of the ANC, who are justifiably angered by the unfair attacks that the ANC is being subjected to, should take comfort that there are legal avenues available to the leadership of the ANC to defend themselves, and to take on those who peddle lies and fake news and specialize in
defamation and character assassination. In the coming months such legal action will unfold
against these peddlers of lies and fake news, and ANC members and supporters should
take pride in the pre-eminent role that the ANC played in putting these constitutional
protections in place.

However, while this happens, rank and file members of the ANC simultaneously also can,
and absolutely should, claim their democratic right, without any hesitation and apology, to
express their legitimate views, and to protest vigorously against any attempts – especially
by white moneyed people – to try to prescribe who should be their leaders. It is the hard
fought democratic right of every ANC member and supporter to use all the legal rights that
our just struggle bestowed on us through the sacrifices of so many of our fellow citizens who fought for these rights.

No self-respecting ANC member should ever accept unsubstantiated and unjust attacks on the ANC and their leaders. All freedom loving South Africans have a sacred duty to always stand up and defend the basic principles of fairness and justice.

This article was written by an anonymous Free State ANC Youth League leader