What if, and that is a big if, the plan all along was to convince us blacks that we had political power when we did not
So there is this grumpy black discourse that political power has gone back to white people. The DA-led coalitions in the economic metro hubs are cited as evidence of this purported reversal of political power.
But then, what if, and that’s a big if, political power never left the hands of white people? Perhaps, there was never a political power-sharing in South Africa. What if there was no transfer of power to black people?
What if we black people have been hoodwinked into believing the myth that political power had been attained, and “the rest was going to follow”?
But now that the “rest” is not following, we turn against each other.
Perhaps the rest has followed. But it is not what the darkies anticipated: redistribution and basic access to socio-economic resources.
Perhaps what has followed instead is worsening unemployment, Marikana, “illegal” minings, black-on-black howling and violence in Parliament, and the police force brutalising university students wanting free, quality education.
What if, and that is a big if, the plan all along was to convince us blacks that we had political power when we did not.
Perhaps that has been the conspiracy against us darkies – afford the ANC limited access to the use of political power, without its necessarily owning such power, but pull the liberation carpet from under the ANC’s feet.
When the liberation mandate fails to materialise after 20 years of democracy, the blame is laid squarely at the door of Luthuli House.
We are stuck with the dominant narrative that says our socio-economic woes are a result of ANC “misrule”.
Or, on a more personal level, all the economic woes are a consequence of President Jacob Zuma’s poor leadership.
The corrective measure is equally simplistic – get rid of the ANC, and Zuma, and as Donald Trump would say, South Africa “will be great again”!
But then what if all this is nothing new?
What if it had been planned all along?
The apartheid “born-agains” who visited the ANC in exile from the mid-1980s, spoke to Nelson Mandela in jail, placed him in a nice house outside the Victor Verster prison, unbanned liberation movements in 1990, and initiated Codesa in early 1990s, were actually motivated by self-preservation.
What if all this was a concerted attempt to find a means to legitimise apartheid socio-economic patterns with the participation of black people? The apartheid masters were fully aware they could not win the hearts and minds of majority black South Africans.
They had failed with the Bantustan system.
Given its vast presence among black South Africans, it seems plausible that the ANC could engage strategically to achieve the legitimisation of apartheid socio-economic patterns. In other words, the challenge was to sustain apartheid capital monopoly without the use of force.
Perhaps, due to the visibility of apartheid security forces, it is forgotten that apartheid was driven by a highly intelligent mafia – the Afrikaner Broederbond.
This was the intellectual engine of apartheid that sought to engineer apartheid socially, economically, and politically.
The apartheid masters and their monopoly capital invested heavily in the making of the political rules of the game during apartheid and after apartheid.
During the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) talks, they made sure the post-apartheid rules of the political game would keep the liberation political elite away from any sense of redistribution socio-economics.
It entrenched the property clause in the post-apartheid constitution.
Moreover, it ensured key powerful institutions of state would be out of control of the post-apartheid ANC political elite: the National Treasury, the SA Reserve Bank, the judiciary, and the Independent Electoral Commission.
The property clause and the ring-fencing of the National Treasury and the Reserve Bank, together with its own intellectual challenges, castrated the ANC so it could not progress as a liberation agency after apartheid.
Perhaps, then, what the ANC lost is not so much political power but the political game. Perhaps it did not have political power, but only access to the use of political power. Perhaps it continues to have access to political power, but with many limitations.
The ANC was hoodwinked in this agenda to castrate formations that could have given it a balance of power.
Unwittingly, it demilitarised organised labour through Cosatu; it demilitarised communities through the South African National Civic Organisations; and it gave cabinet positions to communists – who were just too eager to ride in that train that Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu once spoke about.
While the ANC was constraining the left, the right wing was left to thrive unfettered. The ANC lost the political game in the rule-making phase.
It fought the liberation struggle from the leftist ideological persuasions, but landed at a liberal dispensation.
The post-apartheid political game is not being played according to the rules envisaged by the ANC during the Struggle, but according to liberal rules.
As one would imagine, the one who determines the rules of the game has far better prospects of winning the game.
Therefore it should not be surprising when the ANC loses the metros to the liberal DA.
Fact is, the liberals determined the political rules of the post-apartheid game. Hence, they are likely to play it better than the ANC.
Perhaps the ANC did not heed the advice of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro: “Never stop to theorise about your revolution.”
Castro counsels in his book My Life that revolutionary movements must always read about other revolutions, but must design their own revolution continuously.
South Africa’s post-apartheid revolution, if it does exist, has neither character nor content.
So, perhaps, the blacks’ biggest hoax in our lifetime was not the infamous Y2K – but the belief that in 1994 we attained political power.
The darkies’ greatest frustration stems from this belief.
It is a belief that is not matched by the outcomes of having political power. This partly explains the frustrations of those calling for free and quality tertiary education – it is not yet uhuru!
Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau noted: “The first person to enclose a piece of land, and then said, This is mine’, and found enough people to believe him, was the true founder of inequality.”
By Dumisani Hlophe