By Siki Dlanga
The outrage towards Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s letter has been a New Year’s spectacle that has eclipsed even the burning of parliament - unthinkable – but here we are.
There is something to be said about how civil society joins in among the grossly offended groups – where public opinion is conveniently split along ANC factions. No one seems to appreciate the honest self-evaluation Sisulu offers us. She is being accused of being self-serving, fine, but which politician isn’t?
My view is that she is critiquing her life’s work in government and as a sitting minister, who has served our country since 1994, about why this country fails the majority it promised to serve. Elites have been lambasting her day and night with the help of journalists, with some calling for her head.
The same characters, the same script played out when they called for the deposing of Ambassador Zindzi Mandela, months before her passing, after her tweets about the same land and justice issue Minister Sisulu now raises.
This irrational overreaction to these black women leaders when conveying these pertinent issues must stop, now. Enough. The desperate attempt to muzzle and control black women leaders particularly when addressing the elephant in the room – the intolerable inequality and land dispossession of black people, of which black women are the most affected - is unacceptable.
It must stop now. This is what led Zindzi, Lindiwe and their families to struggle against colonialists in the first place. Must they now forget about it and enjoy the perks of power? Are their positions meant to buy their silence? Sisulu is like the remnant of the ANC that truly is ANC. At the late Ambassador Lindiwe Mabuza’s funeral, President Thabo Mbeki suggested that the problem of the ANC is that there are those who are not ANC, though they may hold ANC positions.
This orchestrated exaggerated reaction has always debased, dehumanised and disfigured the public image of black women leaders. It is nothing new.
It is as if the colonial-apartheid (including capital) beneficiaries are aware of how they have diligently worked, for centuries, to control the public narrative that maintains and contains the poor black population of which the poor black woman is designed to be the pinnacle of ultimate poverty.
Now, when a black woman such as late Ambassador Zindzi or Minister Lindiwe dares to articulate elements of this engineered black poverty, it seems to tap right into that colonial-apartheid psyche of die swart gevaar.
The irony is that the calls to lynch the Minister from position because of her evaluation of her government’s progress only serves to prove her point about Jim Crowe.
The late Ambassador’s own grandfather had been dispossessed of his Nkosi title because he would not dance to the tune of the coloniser which, late Zindzi and, Lindiwe is still required to dance to. The colonial clerks have hardly slept pushing arguments against her to impress their bosses.
They have become so predictable that you will notice that some of them only ever write an article when there is a black to be scolded by capital or when there is a racist to defend or eulogise.
These voices are deliberately avoiding the intent of Minister Sisulu’s writings. They are instead systematically drowning out every point she is making regarding the discussion about the unAfricanness of our constitution, the need for Economic Reconciliation, the self-serving corrupt overnight-billionaire politicians, or the conspicuous engineered poverty of Africans.
Together they, including Judge Zondo, are creating white noise, excuse the pun, to drown out this nation-saving conversation Minister Sisulu offers South Africans.
The performance of indignation by Acting Chief Justice Zondo was well dramatised as he centered himself, made himself the victim, in a matter of life and death for millions of poor black South Africans.
Former Chief Justice Moegoeng Moegoeng is on record casting doubt on some corrupt judges. The video zooms on Zondo in that moment as Moegoeng makes the statement. This was not the last time the former CJ made such concerning allegation.
On another occasion, he accused a politician by the name of Pravin Gordan of trying to influence his decision as a judge. This is more than enough to cause the public to be concerned about the judiciary. An honest government or judiciary would have investigated such allegations to rid itself of corrupt elements rather than taking cheap shots at Minister Sisulu.
These tired tactics against black women by the media and patriarchy are age old. Meghan Markle recently won a case against British tabloids.
The minister is inviting our country to re-imagine itself and to move towards a more just and African judiciary. Show us that you are just. Do not tell us on television that you are. It does not matter that Africans were part of the process of creating the constitution.
Our country has been on a transitional-experiment which has not successfully transitioned away from apartheid. What the minister is calling for is simply that – we are not yet where we thought we were headed; I am offering these reasons and ways forward as one with intimate experience in the struggle and government.
There is no reason to be offended except if what does not work for millions of South Africans is what fills your pockets.
I once asked Archbishop Tutu what advice he could offer us as younger leaders given the state of our nation. Tutu said: “Make this country beautiful, especially for the poor.”
The Arch’s ashes were not yet cold the next day when parliament, a stone throw away, combusted into ashes. When the Biblical Samson died, he took down with him the most sacred building of those who were oppressing his nation.
In case you dismissed that fire as some RET project, days later, lightning struck Mandela’s birthplace, Mvezo to ashes. Last year, the poor looted for days as the world watched in horror. Here’s the thing, if you refuse to understand plain words, I hope you can handle the fire. Lindiwe means the one we have been waiting for.
She is also Nonceba. Nonceba means mercy. What she proposes is nothing new, it is what many have been waiting for. If you reject the mercy for this country in her proposal, then James Baldwin’s words “the fire next time” are already too late for you to understand. Our parliament ultimately resembles all the systematic roots of what has oppressed our people.
Parliament lies in ashes now. Lightning has already struck where the poor are most neglected.
* Siki Dlanga is a poet , gender activist and political analyst