Never one to disguise her spleen Rhoda Kadalie takes issue with what she alleges is “my temerity to lead the electorate astray”. What Kadalie is taking issue with, but conceals, is I am no lone voice but in partnership with numerous others, of note, in a campaign which calls on all registered voters not to abstain but use their vote on 7 May.
Read Rhoda Kadalie’s article on Politicsweb on 23 April 2014. It was published in Die Burger in Afrikaans on the same day.
The “SIDIKIWE, VUKANI, WE ARE FED UP!” initiative is an eminently democratic effort encouraging people to use their vote but vote for anyone but the ANC or DA and if the voter is unimpressed with any of the other parties contesting the elections to exercise their right to spoil the ballot paper.
The growing numbers who are signing up to SIDIKIWE, and many social movements endorsing our call, the multitudes engaging in the debate initiated, are fed up with the ruling party’s corruption, cronyism and arrogance and wish to remind it that it cannot take our votes for granted. If we had ended on that note instead of also opposing Kadalie’s infatuation with Helen Zille’s DA she would no doubt have lauded us. We do not aocate a vote for the DA because it is unabashedly a party of capital and has in its ranks a good rump of the old Nats and other thinly disguised racists. Neither did it have anything to say about one of the worst episodes of our new democracy – the massacre of striking miners at Marikana. One waits to hear of any critique from Kadalie in respect of the DA.
But what kind of a democrat is Rhoda Kadalie anyway? She totally ignores the many good people who have signed up to the SIDIKIWE statement – former deputy minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Barney Pityana, Vish Satgar, Breyten Breytenbach, Stephanie Kemp, Louise Asmal, Mazibuko Jara, Audrey and Max Coleman among them – to hone in on a single individual whom she argues has an unstated ability to “lead the electorate astray.” The very phrase illustrates Kadalie’s contempt for a thinking electorate and the democratic process which includes anyone’s right, irrespective of background or standing, to aocate a voting preference – it’s called “freedom of speech” Rhoda. Kadalie’s warped understanding of democracy is plain to see. Just note this gem: “When he [Kasrils] decrees that we should vote for minority parties, or not vote at all, he actually undermines the idea of a multi-party democracy, a right that cost us a lot of blood, sweat and tears.” Excuse me Rhoda, in what way does that undermine multi-party democracy? Are minority parties not part of the equation? I always believed good liberals adored the idea of minority rights and were horrified at the domination of the big, well-oiled party machines? It seems that hell hath no fury like those whose political party one undermines. Kadalie is in company with Gwede Mantashse, Blade Nzimandi and SADTU (who she enthusiastically quotes) in their denunciations of my persona in their ad hominem responses to SIDIKIWE – avoiding the substantive issues we have raised.
This article was first published in Afrikaans this morning in Die Burger.
It is in playing the man and not the ball that Kadalie bares her fangs and shows her ignorance. She delves into the Bisho Massacre of September 1992, and virtually repeats word for word the vitriolic attack made on me by ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. They – like the apartheid government, its security forces, Ciskei dictator Oupa Gqoza, and that Bantustan’s Chief Justice – all heaped blame on me for allegedly leading marchers to their deaths at the hands of Ciskeian soldiers. Because it suits Kadalie and her strange bed-fellow Mantashe to rubbish the SIDIKIWE campaign my Bisho involvement comes all too easily to hand. None other than Cyril Ramaphosa, then ANC Secretary General, testified to a TRC hearing in 1996 that the Bisho march was a collective decision of the ANC’s National Executive Committee, and that “with hindsight we would have done things differently.” Far from being the sole leader of that section of the march that was initially fired on when we ran through a gap in the stadium fence, I was accompanied by Chris Hani, Smuts Ngonyama and Linda Mti among others. There was no specific Bisho Commission of Enquiry led by Judge Goldstone. The Ciskei’s Chief Justice Pickard condemned the ANC and myself without so much as a hearing and Goldstone, sitting in Pretoria, nodded his assent.
Along with Ramaphosa I volunteered my account of the massacre to the TRC and expressed my deep regret. I declared that “in a profound moral sense I was an element in the events that culminated in the massacre and it still haunts me that we could have done more to avoid the terrible outcome.” I continued: “If there had been a warning we would have halted, and if warning shots were fired we would certainly have retreated.”The ANC has never reproached me for my role at Bisho. It cannot because of that NEC decision which carried with it Mandela’s own endorsement the mobilization that followed in the then Border Region to hold a People’s Assembly in Bisho to force Gqozo to resign the tactical decision taken on the march by a collective leadership headed by Ramaphosa agreeing that I and others would lead the charge through the gap in the stadium fence with our followers and proceed to the centre of Bisho. The TRC found that the ANC “exhibited a lack of prudence” but placed the greater blame on the Ciskei Defence Force for a response “out of all proportion to the situation which could not have been reasonably expected.”
However let us suppose I had been as guilty of recklessness as Mantashe and Kadalie allege. Would this necessarily detract from the SIDIKIWE statement? Just ask Pityana, Nozizwe and company and the endorsing organizations such as the Unemployed People’s Movement, Abahlali base Mjondolo, Democratic Left Alternative, Awethu, Marikana miners, the grass roots support and groundswell. For that matter ask Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who chaired the TRC hearing at Bisho, and has welcomed the SIDIKIWE campaign.
Kadalie declares that as a former leader I should take responsibility for what the ANC has become. Well that I have done on many an occasion including in the recent 2012 edition of my memoir “Armed and Dangerous.” In the new introduction I do just that. Read it Rhoda. That book is about the blood, sweat and tears of the liberation struggle. There was sacrifice, achievements, defeats and errors on the way. I leave you to inform us where you fitted into those categories. One regrets ones errors but celebrates the democracy and the rights we have achieved. That democracy needs to be defended and deepened in a thoroughly participatory manner by our people rather than voting once every five years or so. The SIDIKIWE campaign of which I am a proud part speaks truth to power and has been tremendously successful in raising a robust national debate about our democratic rights and the involvement of our people in the electoral contestation and times ahead. Judging by the huge media response – which surprised us all – and the buzz created all over the country it has come to enthuse thousands and thousands of our people. It has opened up the space and expanded debate on the state of our democracy and the modalities of the voting system. Kadalie has sought to rubbish all of that by her small-minded, personal attack that places her in a camp with Gwedi Mantash, Blade Nzimande, Jesse Duarte and their ilk seething with hostility for this democratic process.
Just who is the loser and who is the winner Rhoda? If we work to make it work – democracy every time!
Source : GroundUp