Apartheid’s resort to dirty tricks was signing own death warrant

It seems clear that the ANC never learnt one of the most fundamental lessons of the apartheid era – that a government or ruling elite which resorts to dirty tricks to retain power is signing its own death warrant.

Details of an ANC “war room” where a covert campaign was cooked up to sow disinformation and smear opposition parties ahead of the local government elections of 2016 emerged after Sihle Bolani, a public relations expert, went to court claiming she had not been paid for her part in the campaign.

Included in the court papers was a report by Bolani detailing how fake EFF posters and a network of social media “influencers” would be used, among other things, to influence voter sentiment in favour of the ANC – without revealing its hand.

This weekend City Press reported on the existence of tape recordings from a meeting at Luthuli House between Bolani, the ANC's general manager Ignatius Jacobs and Joseph Nkadimeng where the campaign was discussed.

Predictably the ANC is seeking to distance itself from the whole sordid affair, claiming it was the work of individuals.

I suspect that in the end, the individuals implicated in willfully trampling the boundaries of common decency in the name of “love for the movement” will take the fall. As usual, the underlings pay the price.

I’m sure we will hear more about the alleged ANC “war room”. The case instituted by Bolani seems to guarantee this.

What is disconcerting is the fact that had the matter not landed up in court we would still be in the dark about the ugly depths our polity has reached in this country.

And while secrecy may now have gone out of the window, what is also unsettling is the absence of a loud and vigorous public outcry.

It seems to have escaped the ANC of today, and possibly even the rest of us, that leadership is an area in which ethical conduct is not a choice, but a necessity.

Ethical conduct by leaders is what seals the trust between those who mandate and those who are mandated. Once this trust is broken, the massive legitimate power given to leaders by the people will be withdrawn.

And once ethical conduct has gone and trust has been broken, all that is left behind is a bunch of criminals who will fight, kill and maim to illegitimately hang onto power.

This is the tragedy we are witnessing as the ruling party continues to give up legitimate power.

In so doing, it is also giving up its ability to deal with the countless challenges facing South Africa.

The issue of the illegal bailouts given to Bankorp, which was subsequently bought by Absa, is one example.

The story was recently thrust back into the limelight. The plunder was real enough, but the context, the timing and the rushed manner in which the documents were leaked from the public protector’s office raised massive suspicions about the intended objective.

At the end of the day the question is this: If our government, has chosen the path of political expediency and dominance by an amoral political elite, what hope do we have of it honestly tackling the wrongs of the past?

If there is an absence of ethics and common decency, how will the looting which took place prior to 1994 and before the subsequent looting began, ever be addressed effectively?

The thing about power is that it creates power clubs. The current elite has tasted the sweet nectar that derives from their membership of one of these. And because they are in a power club, they find no reason to dismantle it.

They are the big boys now, they own it, this is how the big boys roll!

But this is a delusion. The true nature of mankind is such that it always pushes us to seek after an egalitarian society.

It is a quest that will never end until we see the manifestation of equality and the greater good.

Until then we will continue to strive after it regardless of who has been endowed with legitimate power or who has usurped power illegitimately.

The sooner our leaders realise that the better.

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