The DA and its fellow liberal travellers paint the Public Protector as incompetent because she doesn’t agree with their stereotyping black people, writes MEOKGO MATUBA
The Democratic Alliance has turned opposition politics into an entire industry of insults on public servants. With every salvo they throw at our public servants, with the reruns of such insults on our 24-hour news channels, the front pages, loose and superfluous with facts, proving politically profitable with each short; it has turned our political landscape into a discrediting machinery.
Politically, it’s easy to dismiss the DA as an opposition political party. The DA is a bunch of liberal elites who pass views and assumption about a reality occupied by a majority of South Africans which the elite has not the slightest experience of it. Even though they use radios and TVs and articles and newspapers to inject the popular space with their views and assumptions and stereotypes; most South Africans just cannot identify with the DA fabric.
Even a group of black assimilators who now occupy various positions in the DA occasionally lament that ‘these people do not know us’.
What the DA has always relied on for some modicum of credibility is finding assimilators in institutions of the state, blacks who hold black stereotypes about other blacks and blacks who are quick to see black people as corrupt, manipulative, unprofessional; black professionals trapped in the all-white invention that has found residence in some black minds.
When the DA can’t be sure of your assimilator credentials, they go for your credibility. This explains the vehemence with which the DA went after Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng before and shortly after his appointment. They did not know Mogoeng Mogoeng and could hardly be in a position to formulate an opinion about him, and that was their problem.
They wanted then Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who at the time had made it clear that he would not coddle the black government and where necessary, he would not be shy in finding against the government. Of course, Moseneke was desperately trying to state a case for his independence but what the DA saw was someone who will not be burdened by the white sins of the past that continue to strangle our nation.
The DA, therefore, depends on black critics and black leaders whom they see as wearing rose-tinted glasses about our country, its past and its present, in order to justify their opposition politics and protect white interests.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has gone right at the core of their fears with her very first high-profile investigation: calling for punitive measures for past white sins and refusing to see government as a problem. This means the one office the DA has depended upon for the credibility of their views and protecting their interests for almost a decade under Thuli Madonsela had now gone rogue.
The Public Protector’s office was now connecting the past with the present and seeing the difficulties of government as part of the historic burden that continues to control much of what this country is about, putting a proper context to the difficulties in her task of protecting the public.
Here are the facts that will not get a rerun from 24-hour news channels which have turned themselves into mouthpieces of the black stereotypes and black pathology. At the time of delivering the SARS and ABSA report, which was 8 months into her job, the Public Protector had released 11 investigative reports. She had concluded 10 787 investigations despite being on the road for stakeholder engagements. Most of these reports involved service delivery failures which will definitely greatly assist communities who are being short-changed by their local municipalities.
On the Monday that she released her CIEX report, Mkhwebane, in fact, released four reports, taking her reports tally to 15. In the stakeholder engagements she had conducted in the eight months in office, the Public Protector had received 1 700 service delivery complaints. These complaints varied from farm evictions and oppressive living conditions in farms to disagreements between chiefs and municipalities. She had found against Transnet and other government departments for unfair dismissals and abuse of staff.
Her four reports that Monday were on the Department of Arts & Culture vs South African Roadies Association (SARA), the Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Government vs South African Police Service and others, Northwest Provincial Government vs Bapo Ba Mogale and then the CIEX report.
These were extremely important interventions but because unlike Thuli Madonsela, who had a particularly excessive obsession with the President of the Republic, which both elevated her status in the eyes of the opposition and its media machinery, Mkhewbane is being discredited for not assisting the DA in its quest to continue to discredit the ANC through its President, not on actually being the hardest working Public Protector thus far.
On the CIEX reports, the legal merits of her recommendations are yet to be constitutionally tested. I believe it is incorrect for the Constitution to choose political and economic policy for a government before it’s even elected in the manner in which it is so prescriptive on the role of the Reserve Bank. Can this generation tie the hands of future generations on matters of the transformation of society and its economic destiny?
When the constitution says the role of Reserve Bank is to manage price stability, it’s effectively instructing the Central Bank to interfere in the markets. Inflation is typically a signal to producers that there is too much money chasing too few goods and they should make more of those goods. It’s also a signal to consumers that a particular product has become more expensive as a result of high demand and they may choose to buy less of it and/ many will be discouraged to buy because of high prices. It may also be a product of external factors and so on. Either way, the markets are supposed to self-correct price increases.
Of course, depending on whether you are a Keynesian economist or subscribe to Adam Smith’s invisible hand, your economic prescription will be guided by that ideology. There is, therefore, no reason to believe that the Constitutional Court would find the Public Protector as being irrational in questioning why the role of Reserve Bank is so prescriptive as if the constitution was trying to trap the country into a particular governing economic Ideology.
At the very least, the Constitutional Court would sympathise with the Public Protector if the court itself does not depend on neoliberal economic advisers in its analysis. The question would well be to either scrap the prescriptive nature of the Constitution on the role of Reserve Bank or to modify it as per the recommendations of the Public Protector.
If you were to do a survey today you would find that Mkhwebane’s views about the role of the past on the present, the need to correct that past, and the importance of these changes being constitutionalised, you would find that the public indeed holds similar views.
However, as many have observed before, the privileged in South Africa, predominantly white, predominantly DA, go out of their way to use the dominant instruments of propaganda, which by definition are at the disposal of the privileged and whites, to paint an ugly picture about blacks, about the ANC, especially when such views are shared by the black assimilators in government institutions.
Mkhwebane is clearly not an assimilator.
Matuba is SSecretary-General of the ANC Women’s League