The whites never expected much of the ANC in the first place

Mugabe Ratshikuni says were are seeing old pre-1994 "swart gevaar" sentiments emerging anew

The mainstream, the establishment never expected much of the ANC in any case

1 March 2023

This past week I was reading a report from a well-known global insurance firm that predicts that South Africa is in line for even more hectic social unrest and violent protests, given the perilous state of our economy, the low levels of trust in the political elite within society (by the way, this touches all political parties and not just the ANC, as some would have us fallaciously believe.

There is a huge and growing credibility crisis and trust deficit between all political leadership in South Africa and ordinary South Africans), high unemployment and inflation rates and the subsequent squeeze on household income, constant water and power outages, the rising cost of living and persistent as well as growing inequality, amongst many other factors, that have turned South Africa into the perfect society for apocalyptic type naysayers and doomsday prophets.

Whilst reading all this, I was reminded of my first year in high school, the iconic year that was 1994, doing my standard six ( I think in standards as a quintessential 1980s baby who listens to Queen, Def Leppard, Dire Straits, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Roxette et al, so you’ll just have to bear with me okes) at Saint Alban’s College in Pretoria.

This was the year of the first democratic elections, of the global euphoria over Nelson Mandela and the ANC finally taking power. Strangely enough, throughout this magical period where so many of us were mostly in a trance, believing that South Africa was indeed the greatest country in the world, most of my high school mates at Saint Alban’s College, of a particular race nogal (no prizes for guessing which one lads), genuinely believed that even with Mandela as president, the ANC was going to collapse the country and usher in an era of devastation and destruction that would leave us all living in “Third World” squalor with no signs of progress and development to speak of or boast about.

(I can already hear some of you lot saying to yourselves, but isn’t that exactly where we are at present, but let us save that argument for another day asseblief).

So, as I was reading this negative report from this well-renowned global insurance firm and reminiscing about my first year of high school, I realised that the more things have changed (and there have been positive changes despite what many in the mainstream commentariat would have us believe with their mostly sensationalist and alarmist mode of reporting and writing), the more they have stayed the same.

The mainstream establishment has never really believed that the ANC would ever govern South Africa properly and build the country so that it would amount to something within the global family of nations. Hence the “swart gevaar” sentiments of the early 1990s, have now been formalised into reports and newspaper columns of doom and gloom.

That is why we were reading crazy stuff over the past week, such as that the ANC must prove that former Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter’s allegations of corruption against it are false, nothing of the “he who alleges must prove” ethos when it relates to the ANC.

Perhaps this is what President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa rather controversially and in the most peculiar manner meant when he made the outlandish statement that, “Today, the ANC and its leaders stand accused of corruption. The ANC may not stand alone in the dock, but it does stand as accused number one. This is the stark reality that we must now confront.” 

Was the president being a psychic here, prophetic or fatalistic, in light of how easy it has become to just believe anything negative about the ANC, without in anyway interrogating the facts and gathering any form of evidence?

Even Business Leadership South Africa, an organisation of the establishment and status quo, if ever there was one, is quoted as stating through its CEO that South Africa is headed for Arab Spring type uprisings, with the logical implications of such a statement leading to an inference of “regime change” for anyone who has the wherewithal to apply their minds just a tad surely?

Those within the mainstream of society, who claim to have idolised Mandela with his “ethical leadership” style and supported the ANC under his leadership, in truth, not only did not vote for the ANC, but they were advocating for a “swart gevaar” agenda even in those days and would openly state over dinner table and braai stand conversations during that period that the ANC would prove to be just another African failure, so save us the self-righteous, hypocritical indignation of contemporary times where you claim to have once loved what the ANC stood for, but have now changed your tune because of its supposedly lacklustre performance in your eyes, because all that has happened is that the same anti-ANC “swart gevaar” sentiments that okes held during Mandela’s days, but could only state in private conversations, have now just been crystallised, formalised and institutionalised in the form of academic and socio-economic reports that are given a form of credibility and legitimacy, even as they delegitimise the ANC and all it stands for and has achieved in the post-ninety-four dispensation.

Am I now changing tack and saying that everything is hunky dory in contemporary South Africa and the ANC is saintly in its modus operandi, without fault or flaw in its execution or lack thereof of its policies? Of course not.

Could and should the ANC have done better post-ninety-four? Hell yes! Has the ANC not done any good for South Africa within this period, as many within the mainstream commentariat would have us believe? I will let you make the call on that one. Do we have serious problems that require better governance and leadership to resolve?

It goes without saying okes, but even as we acknowledge all that, we dare not be naïve and not see or acknowledge that there has and will always be an anti-ANC agenda within the mainstream, no matter who leads it, whether Mandela, Mbeki, Motlanthe, Zuma, Ramaphosa or even Ratshikuni okes (wouldn’t that be something, a free pint for every Saffer each Friday, like a good “commie” julle).

The ANC has erred much, but we would have to be ahistorical, ignorant, and downright dishonest if we do not acknowledge that there is and has always been an agenda against it, as there would be for any movement of such a nature with progressive inclinations and a revolutionary democratic agenda.

Mugabe Ratshikuni works for the Gauteng provincial government; He is an activist with a passion for social justice and transformation. He writes here in his personal capacity.