/ 3 May 2013

Great leaders rise above narrow politics

Helen Suzman and Winnie Mandela in Orlando West
Helen Suzman and Winnie Mandela in Orlando West

ANC parliamentary speaker Moloto Mothapo's article, "Suzman was against apartheid, but she was not for liberation" (April 26), testifies to the fact that Nelson Mandela was really a strange breed within the ANC. Maybe the reason today's ANC leadership is so adamant it must "protect" Mandela is because it knows it will never have another charismatic and morally upstanding political figure to lead the party.

Mothapo writes: "The indisputable fact is that Suzman served in a discredited political system, which was declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations. Her participation in such a system legitimised an unjust order and made her complicit in the horrors it unleashed … Because of her participation, on behalf of the affluent minority white constituency of Houghton, she often found herself speaking with a forked tongue on issues of principle."

Wow, what an evil snake of a ­racist this Helen Suzman was!

But Suzman had a constituency, which elected her and which she served. That constituency didn't give her a mandate to fight apartheid, but she took a principled stand and fought apartheid. She was a black sheep to many whites, but she knew that what she was doing was right. Some whites opposed apartheid clandestinely, but Suzman overtly took on the apartheid aristocrats, head on, in Parliament. Thus Mandela spoke very fondly of her.

Remember that, like Suzman, Mandela is also believed to have "sold out" by some radical black fundamentalists and possibly some in his own party. Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said on television that FW de Klerk had "sold out" Afrikaners in 1990-1994.

The fact is that great leaders rise above narrow political interests to earn broader respect beyond their traditional constituencies. Hence, an apartheid leader, De Klerk, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (alongside Mandela). Does the ANC currently have a leader who could even be considered for shortlisting for the Nobel Peace Prize?

The ANC should stop playing basement politics and worrying about a harmless opposition. It is in power, running the biggest economy in Africa. It is the oldest liberation movement in Africa and should set a good example to our coup-prone African brothers and sisters. It must stop sending our troops on dubious foreign missions. It should sell the idling military fleet and equipment it bought in the corrupt arms deal to finance the crisis-ridden education system in the Eastern Cape. Then it should shut up and fully implement the national development plan. – Luthando Lukhozi, Centurion



Mothapo condemns Suzman for being a parliamentarian, not a revolutionary. He, presumably, is a revolutionary as well as being a parliamentarian – if that is ­possible. Has the revolution happened, or is he a partisan on behalf of one that is still coming?

Maybe, one day, analysts will look back at the South African Parliament of the 2000s and 2010s and see it as a quiescent rubber stamp for laws concocted by an authoritarian and self-interested executive (and economic elite) that took away rights from the people of South Africa and stymied the true liberation of the masses.

And then Mothapo will be condemned for his participation in an illegitimate political system. – Kwanzi ka Hungani



 It really is tiresome the way the ANC cannot accept that any one other than itself can claim to have had anything to do with the liberation  of  South Africa from apartheid. It is like saying blacks cannot be racist because they have suffered racism in the past. Both claims are obviously nonsense.

Certainly, the ANC was the main instrument of change, ­politically, but it was not the only one. Anything that helped  to bring about change should be given credit. – Henry Coppens, Sandton