Comment and Analysis

The wool has been pulled over your eyes

Staff Reporter

If you think there is no evidence of the politicisation of the HRC, then read this.

Last week the Mail & Guardian claimed that evidence of the ANC’s politicisation of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) doesn’t “stack up”. Really?

Strangely enough, the M&G agrees that former ANC MP Lawrence Mushwana (and now HRC chairperson) was a “craven” political apparatchik when he was public protector, citing his white-washed report on the “Oilgate” scandal. But the M&G rules out the possibility that he is continuing at the HRC where he left off as public protector, because Mushwana is now “moderated” by five other commissioners.

Perhaps the M&G is unaware that three of the six commissioners are former ANC MPs. One of them, Janet Love, resigned from the ANC’s national executive committee because, as Gwede Mantashe, the ANC secretary general, announced recently, she (and Bheki Cele) had been “deployed” to “strategic state departments and institutions”.

That is damning. The ANC has repeatedly explained that cadres are “deployed” to do its bidding and promote its interests. Such political deployments should set alarm bells ringing for those who treasure the independence of our Chapter Nine institutions.

The M&G also argues that the HRC cannot be furthering the ANC’s interests because the ANC hasn’t led the activism on the issues the HRC is investigating in Cape Town.

Hello? Surely, the M&G knows that the complaint about the Makhaza toilets was laid by the ANC Youth League. It was the youth league that twice physically broke down the toilet enclosures in Makhaza—against the community’s wishes.

The Hangberg issue is also being driven by the ANC and its alliance partners. It was a South African Communist Party member who led the mayhem at a community meeting.

It was Cosatu that pumped up protest action and “sexed up” a community memorandum—against the community’s wishes. And senior ANC members Membathisi Mdladlana, Zou Kota and Fikile Mbalula were also quick to stoke up tension there.

Most egregious of all, it has emerged that Environment Minister Buyelwa Sonjica’s office directly instructed SANParks to withdraw its court application (a joint application with the City of Cape Town) to move illegal structures out of the nature reserve.

The ANC’s thinly veiled strategy is to distort the truth to discredit the Democratic Alliance. The involvement of the HRC is designed to give the ANC’s claims a veneer of ­cred­ibility.

To give the HRC a chance to dispel the perception that it is selectively targeting the DA, the M&G suggests that we call for a broader investigation into housing rights and evictions nationally.

We have already tried that. On June 14 I lodged a detailed submission (plus supporting evidence) with Mushwana for an investigation into poor sanitation countrywide.

He responded that “it would be beyond the capacity of the commission to mount an investigation of [that] scale”. This was despite his admission that “of course, there are other areas where sanitation services do not meet the expected standards”.

This evidence of the politicisation of the HRC is just the tip of the iceberg. When the time is right, we will demonstrate (with evidence) what happens to you in that institution if you incur the wrath of the ANC.

We will not be fooled by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a pity that the M&G has been. At least for now.

Helen Zille is leader of the ­Democratic Alliance and premier of the Western Cape

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