Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout
The 31st of May was always a horrible day. It was like a rainy Sunday. No radio. No comics. No playing. We had to wear our best clothes to church, which meant the most uncomfortable ones with stiff collars and itchy armpits.
And a hat.
At first it was known as Uniedag – Union Day, celebrating that great moment when we broke away from the British Empire as a colony and became something less offensive to us Afrikaners. No, I lie. Being colonised by the Rooinekke was always offensive.
So when Hendrik Verwoerd declared our Republic in 1961, May 31 became Republic Day and that was okay. It ceased to be a sacred day after April 27, 1994. We all know why.
I remember that first celebration of our Republic. In Bloemfontein, now known as Mangaung. We were all there, waiting for the moment when our Prime Minister would release the white dove of peace.
I had already inspected the bird in its box and didn’t like what I saw. I was right. Hendrik Verwoerd threw the dove into the air announcing a thousand-year peace and the damn bird went and sat on the gravel. It didn’t fly. We were aghast.
No one had ever thought that a bird would not want to fly away from us. It just sat there.
I nudged my husband Hasie: “Hasie, skop die donnerse duif!” (Kick the damned dove.) Three more nudges and he did. It was the action that gave him entre into the cabinet. Dr Verwoerd made Hasie Minister of Black Housing and Minister of Water Affairs and Hasie combined his two portfolios by building a black township in a dam.
May 31. Today. A different world.
I was born into the National Party in 1956 when I married my husband. I voted. I took luxury for granted. I never asked questions. Then the NP disappeared. I still voted. I still took everything for granted, but I started asking questions. I got very few answers.
So I have decided to join the ANC as a bona-fide member to find the answers. I have not been coerced. It is a logical progression for me after a lifetime in active politics and careful diplomacy.
I will not be another white Afrikaner sitting on the sidelines with Afriforum and FF+ and criticise. Didn’t the ANC invite us all to join them and be part of the solution?
Today my three grandchildren have no understanding of the past Struggle against communism and terrorism because former communists and terrorists are now their godparents. In fact my oldest granddaughter, Winnie-Jeanne Mokoeloeli, wants to be a future president of the ANCYL.
My son De Kock and his partner Moff de Bruyn have also made me realise that the party in power, no matter how different their methods and focus might be, has allowed the constitution to protect all people, in this case, my son and his friend and their adopted little child, Sipho de Bruyn Bezuidenhout.
There is so much the ANC can learn from the experiences of the past. I was there, firstly as the wife of the NP MP for Laagerfontein who then became a cabinet minister. I was appointed to the Diplomatic Corps and saw the inner workings of power, local and international. Since retiring as ambassador to the homeland republic of Bapetikosweti, I have spent since 1994 in the kitchens of power, first as the cook, the “affirmative chef” for President Mandela, and then in various positions in the kitchens of Parliament, the presidencies of Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma.
Cooking for the comrades has convinced me that in spite of what they want us to think, they are like us and also enjoy good food, big motorcars, five-star hotels and the best that taxpayers’ money can buy. They have now also learnt, as we had in the NP, that this is nothing to do with corruption. You must just call it policy.
We know how hard it is to be a government for the people, by the people, in spite of the people. But it is so much harder today. We had no television at first and when we did allow it in 1975, we kept responsible editorial control of it at the SABC through good governance and we didn’t spend all the money on embroidered dressing gowns and first class air-tickets to the Olympics.
We kept 12 percent mild criticism of government versus 88 percent support through silence. It was unnecessary in those days to have secrecy bills because we knew where the secrets were.
There was no internet – no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter and tweet. No cellphones with video cameras or spying facilities now in the hands of anyone and everyone. And no Wikileaks except for some pathetic graffiti on the walls. BlackBerry was merely the name of a trusted garden boy.
It is now 2012 and our honeymoon with democracy is over at last. Let’s be honest, it went on for far too long. When we all woke up, we had slid from a Mandela Miracle to a Mbekivellian Dream often deferred. The cracks are not just visible but wide enough to squat in. The firing, the “cadre deployment” of Thabo Mbeki was so embarrassing.
And totally unnecessary considering how the ANC could have learnt from the way we in the NPreplaced our leaders.
Ill health in the case of DF Malan and JG Strydom; unfortunate employment of a parliamentary messenger in the case of HF Verwoerd; an Info Scandal in the briefcase of BJ Vorster, and Valiums in PW Botha’s orange juice. All without a whisper of any coups d’état.
Then there was FW de Klerk with his policy of Pretoriastroika, his own coup d’état, in which he lost the state but kept his head.
Since the gracious embrace of power by the old ANC warriors who spent their lives in prison or exile, a new generation of cadre has emerged. It is now politics as usual. The First Transition of our democracy turned chalk to cheese. Now 18 years later, the ANC have realised it is time for a Second Transition. I’m so excited because I see many familiar passions reflected in the ANC policy documents that will help us turn the cheese back into chalk.
The gloves are off. I have decided it is therefore time to lend an experienced hand for the sake of the future of our country. I have decided to become a member of the ANC so that I can assist in the transition from Struggle sentiment to professional delivery. Here follow various crisis points in ANC governance that have come to my attention:
l Millions of illegal blacks are in SA as amakwerekwere. They need to be REPATRIATED to their homelands of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Somalia and especially Nigeria, to name just a few. We in the NP successfully moved millions of illegal blacks to their homelands of Venda, Ciskei, Transkei, Bophuthutswana and Bapetiksoweti. I know now it is going to be very challenging because we have sold all our railway lines to China, but where there is a will, there is a shortcut.
l We no longer need the Group Areas Act as the ANC already privatised it by creating GATED COMMUNITIES to protect investments and lives.
l We no longer need a Mixed Marriages Act because many of our marriages are no longer mixed, the couples are both female or both male.
l As for an Immorality Act – immorality and sexual carelessness fuelled by drink and drugs do no longer need punishment through laws. The HI virus is doing a very satisfactory job in that area.
l I totally support the Secrecy Bill, even now with all the changes that have watered it down. In the old days, if you knew the threats we faced and what was going on, you would have been frightened out of your wits and very depressed. We must be able to keep such things secret for the country’s health and safety. If politicians told people the truth, you wouldn’t vote for them, so we have to classify information. Trust us. It is really FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.
l Allow the party to BRAINWASH YOUR CHILDREN. It makes everything so much simpler and more pleasant in the interests of social cohesion. If we all think the same, we’ll get on along much better. Let us inspire parents to expose their new-borns to the ABC of the ANC, as we did with our NP doctrine which was also Christian and democratic within reason.
l The judiciary! I could have told them a judiciary separate from the executive will never work. It was a constant irritation in the side of the NP with judges constantly twisting our laws and us having to follow behind and patch up all the holes. I mean with people like Justice Didcott and that awful Greek lawyer Bizos, we couldn’t govern. You put someone in jail who is a threat to the security of the state and they would let them out!
l As a Christian, I’m also encouraged to see that the ANC is giving up on this communist nonsense of no church and state. Did you know that was the big irreconcilable difference between us in the NP and the Communists: their atheism? Economically we were NOT THAT DIFFERENT.
We also believed in nationalisation, central planning, one party, political schooling (and for everyone to be equal; we preferred that to be separate), yet even that was negotiable. But we wanted religion and now it seems Jacob Zuma has at last seen the importance of God, especially now that we know God is no longer a white male Afrikaner.
l That in all aspects of governance the word “illegal” is never used to hint at censorship and control, but replaced by the phrase “politically incorrect”, which immediately makes all critics feel guilty and counter-revolutionary.
l Re-embracing Thabo Mbeki’s African Renaissance vocabulary by describing all SA blacks as “African”, while only referring to the other citizens as “white”, “coloured”, “Indian” or “other”. Chinese must of course be allowed to call themselves “black” purely for the sake of trade and industry.
l We also had job reservation and even reservations for job seekers, so it is quite unfair after all that Afrikaans affirmative action – Boer Economic Empowerment – not to let poor Africans now have the same system, while the rich Africans enjoy their own Bhutibond. It’s only fair. Let’s be honest; white people have enough money, almost all the money. We’ve had our chance. We survived British imperialists and the Soviet threat. We can look after ourselves.
And because this is a majority government, we can at long last practise policies based on race and be politically correct at the same time. It’s a big advantage we never enjoyed in the old days.
l Education is the key. As we did through Bantu Education, we no longer train people to read and write, but rather give them skills that will make them useful. As with our Christian Nationalist education, do not encourage opinion or questions unless they have been discussed and processed in committee.
l The focus on the need for provinces can also be solved by learning from the past. Dust off the NP blueprints and convert the present nine provinces, eight of which are critically dysfunctional, into 11 homelands (counting Swaziland and Lesotho). If you call them homelands and not provinces, then the problem goes away.
l Disband the ANCYL and encourage them to form their own political party and fight for power through elections and the ballot box, using their own money as we did with Andries Treurnicht and Eugene Terre’Blanche. They were once our angry youth league. By the way, I now see our young commando corps has come back, this time held together by acne.
l Then there are the Intelligence services. It has finally dawned on the ANC what we knew all along in the NP. Democracy and security do not go together. It is not safe. The government wants to know what you have to say, so we must tap your cellphone and read your mail. We are your government. How else must we listen to you? How else can we protect you? So with the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Act, we are bringing back BOSS, the Bureau of State Security, except now we have just kept the SS for State Security and added an A for Agency.
l I can hardly believe it has taken the ANC this long to realise that civil society is an absolute pestilence. We also had to put up with these noisy NGOs, foreign agents and troublemakers always stirring up the blacks, who were perfectly happy with their government until people from overseas come to tell them otherwise.
Now that I am a member of the ANC, I can hereby accept President Zuma’s generous offer of the position of chairperson of the proposed Media Tribunal. This is an area of democracy I understand, as I was a member of PW Botha’s Publications Control Board, unkindly accused of being a censor board. As chairperson of the Media Tribunal, I will guarantee freedom of speech in SA.
It is just after speech that freedoms will go.
Finally, on a personal note: I believe a comedy show is opening on June 12 at the Baxter Theatre called Adapt or Fly. I am told that I am being satirically lampooned in this show, along with most of the honourable leaders of the land.
As a member of the ANC, I will therefore not be attending until instructed by the national executive committee to do so. Comrade Jimmy Manyi will be keeping an eye on that show to see how much racism is being used as cheap comedy.
Luthuli House will also make sure that no obscene, pornographic, sexist, zuluphobic, racist, demeaning or DA images are used to demean the majority of our people.
Viva ANC viva! So we said yesterday on May 31, 2012. Amandla we echo tomorrow.
Vrystaat we shouted then on May 31 in the dark ages.
It all means freedom.
l This is an unedited version of Tannie Evita’s rambling rant at the Cape Town Press Club yesterday.