Gwede Mantashe. Picture: SOWETAN
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: SOWETAN

IT HAS become tediously familiar to observe the African National Congress (ANC) slide into the brutal reactionism of the apartheid regime’s National Party; as much as the Nats presumed to subject millions of people by the fiat of dull grey shoes, so would the ANC destroy a nation in casual imitation of the feet that wore those shoes.

First, the unspeakable gracelessness of the unoriginal expression of dishonour is an offence against the aesthetic of despotism. It may be that the bare-concrete brutalist design of authoritarianism has gone along with the Nats, but in with the ANC is the bare-chested brutality of patriarchy. What, exactly, has changed?

Consider, for instance, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s admonition last week to the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement — and to everyone who fought apartheid in solidarity with the struggle — not to interfere in SA’s affairs. When the Anti-Apartheid Movement was first told to mind its own business was when it condemned the Nats on the grounds of justice. Now, in an open letter to Mantashe and his deputy, Jessie Duarte, the movement expresses its "grave concern" about "recent police and other official investigations into some of our comrades", referring to the witch-hunt under way at the South African Revenue Service. Again, it is on the grounds of justice.

Second, Mantashe’s ineffectual bleating will not silence people of conscience. If anything, it will encourage the Anti-Apartheid Movement and concerned friends of SA everywhere in the world where freedom is held sacred to escalate their condemnation of the injustices the ANC is perpetrating against all South Africans. As certain as the consequence of the Nats’ whining about outside interference in SA’s domestic affairs accelerated its undoing, so will Mantashe’s ejaculations harden attitudes against the party’s racist policies and intolerance of critics.

That alone is reason enough to urge Mantashe to exercise the right to the freedom of expression that he would deny others. The wider the man opens his mouth, the more he reveals his character and the unfitness of his party to govern.

In the same manner as the Nats used the expedience of sovereignty to rail against interference, the ANC has ignored the advice and support given in good faith and increasingly the appeals made on behalf of the country’s long-suffering citizens. As the Nats failed to acknowledge their mistakes and change their policies, so the ANC insists that it, and it only, understands the country’s challenges or has the capacity and the right to offer constructive solutions.

And, as with the Nats’ obsession with control of every detail of South African life, so the ANC despises the people it would rule; as the Nats arrogated social engineering on a grand scale, so the ANC would work harder to persuade South Africans and the world to adapt to its style of despotism. As with the Nats, it will earn the country the opprobrium of the global community and force the party into paranoid isolation.

The collective may be certain that however cogent the arguments of the ANC’s critics, and however irrefutable the evidence that pseudo-socialist patronage leads to the capture of the state by corrupt individuals, the party will maintain that it is sacrosanct and beyond the law.

The people must know, too, that the longer the ANC’s lawlessness is permitted to continue, the more brutal it will be in the enforcement of this privilege, just as the Nats were.

Finally, the ANC will come to understand that, with the exception of those angling for largesse, the entire nation is in rebellion. It will learn, as the Nats did, that resistance will not stop, here and abroad, until justice prevails.

•   Blom is a freelance journalist. He likes to flyfish