The policy of the ANC over the past 18 years has been to lie and deny whenever they have been accused of doing anything wrong. When you're guilty as charged it's about the only strategy that works. If the charges of wrongdoing were fabricated it would simply require a quiet and reasoned explanation from a senior politician to place egg firmly on the face of the accuser.
On the odd occasion that newspaper accusations against the government or its agents have been wildly inaccurate this strategy has worked well and the reputation of the government has been enhanced, albeit briefly.
Gwede Mantashe's continued rantings against Dr Reuel Khoza are fascinating to observe because they reveal the ruling party in its true light....terribly insecure and determined to rule by sheer thuggery if necessary. The role of party bully used to belong to Essop Pahad in the days when he held the post of presidential Rottweiler under the lamentable presidency of Thabo Mbeki.
In fairness to Pahad, he was a rather more urbane and civilised party bully than the current incumbent. I met him for the first time at the Summer Place launch of the New Age newspaper to which I had somehow cracked an invitation.
I greeted Mr Pahad by name and his slightly agitated response was "so you know my name then? You should do, you've written often enough about me". I pointed out that the clue was the large name tag on his left lapel and he had the good grace to laugh. Towards the end of the evening you would have sworn we had been struggle buddies for years.
When the coveted job of party bully came up for grabs it was no contest; Gwede Mantashe was the obvious choice. If you had gone to a casting agency and told them that you wanted someone to play a perpetually angry looking commie, complete with revolutionary chin beard, they would have had no hesitation in sending just one candidate to the audition.
Cde Mantashe gives an Oscar award winning performance every time, whether he is berating the press, business, critics of the government or the waiter at a restaurant. Maybe he has a soft side and mellows considerably when small kittens enter a room but I rather doubt it. It would ruin his reputation and I am sure Cde Gwede would far rather be known as a drowner of kittens than an old softy.
I've observed bullies from a safe distance over the past 40 years and several characteristics are common to the species. The first is to explode with rage when the charges of ineptitude or dishonesty are first laid. That is followed by an attempt to avoid any questions by pretending that the charge is so ludicrous as to not warrant an answer.
When that doesn't work and the public are calling for a response the next tactic is to vilify the accuser. This Mantashe has attempted to do in the hope that the gullible public will switch allegiance and dismiss the chairman of Nedbank as a foolish old codger who was just having a bad hair day when he wrote his chairman's report.
That hasn't worked thus far so the party bully has had to resort to more desperate tactics; that of threatening the whole business community and (try and stifle a laugh here please) pointing out that foreign investors might be put off from investing their money into the leaking ship that is the ANC run South Africa if they believe that the business community think our politicians are a "strange breed". Patriotism truly is the refuge of the scoundrel. Naturally all this has great dramatic effect when accompanied by a wagging figure in the PW Botha style and lots of spittle, both of which Cde Gwede manages admirably.
Since it doesn't look as though Reuel Khoza is about to withdraw his comments one must assume that his relationship with Cde Gwede is a trifle frosty. Khoza has always said he is happy to discuss these issues but bullies fear public debate as vampires fear the daylight for fear it will expose their many shortcomings. Cde Gwede also has his reputation as a nasty bully to live up to and once a bully starts sitting down with people and discussing things in a calm and rational manner he may as well hand in his resignation. All credibility is gone.
The comment of Cde Gwede's that I most loved though was that business leaders had to engage with the ANC "respectfully". Now where have we all heard that? Why, in all those wonderful mafia gangster movies of course. When you don't show the capo di tutti capi respect you get your head smashed in with a baseball bat or you sleep with the fishes. That's because mafia bosses are mostly psychopaths and need to instil fear into their followers.
They know deep down that they are a bunch of scumbags and not even their Bolognese sauce making skills would command respect. So they have to bully respect into their subordinates and business associates. Maybe we should call Gwede Comrade Godfather from now on and kiss his ring, before he makes us all an offer we can't refuse.
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