Political Notebook | The ANC is like a rabid buffalo in a...


Political Notebook | The ANC is like a rabid buffalo in a glass factory

MAX DU PREEZ writes about the government desperately clinging to false pride, about the super-rich jumping off the South African ship like rats, and about his favourite uncle, Noam Chomsky.


THE ANC reminds me of the old fable of the elephant and the mouse walking across the suspension bridge together. Halfway, the mouse stops and proudly declares: Look how we sway the bridge!

The ANC and the government can use smoke and mirrors as much as they want, but the naked truth is that their flirtation with Russia's Vladimir Putin is dealing a severe blow, perhaps even a catastrophic blow, to South Africa's prestige and its economy.

“Unaligned" and “neutral" my ass. In international diplomatic circles, it's the joke of the year.

I have thoroughly documented on these pages the fact that the ANC has repeatedly blamed the West and Nato for the war in Ukraine; that Cyril Ramaphosa, Naledi Pandor and Thandi Modise openly cosy up to Moscow with sweetheart phone calls and visits; that South Africa engaged in joint naval exercises with the Russians on the first anniversary of Putin's war; that a Russian cargo ship under sanctions did business in Simon's Town; and that an ANC delegation led by the deputy minister of international relations made a “solidarity visit" to Russia a few months ago.

Several other countries also do not want to be in the orbit of the US and Nato but they manage their non-alignment much better. Brazil under the leftist icon Lula da Silva is an example.

In the delusion of being a principled revolutionary party opposing international imperialism, the ANC charged into the Ukraine conflict like a rabid buffalo in a glass factory.

As if Putin's military intervention in a sovereign state, a member of the UN and a much better democracy than Russia itself, is not also imperialism.

One can argue that the US and Nato have acted provocatively and that Russia feels legitimately threatened, but there can be absolutely no excuse for an invasion of a state that is not directly responsible for any provocation.

A democracy such as South Africa also cannot afford to remain “neutral" towards an aggressor who commits war crimes, destroys civilian infrastructure on a large scale and employs mercenaries in its war.

Yes, America is bullying us now because Pretoria is the only true democracy in Putin's camp. But we need the US much more than it needs us. The African Growth & Opportunity Act (Agoa) trade benefits we enjoy are America's gift to us, and it's certainly its right to withhold them.

South Africa's ambassador in Washington, who should be managing the tension, is none other than the pathetic, inept former mayor of Cape Town, Nomaindiya Cathleen Mfeketo.

On Wednesday, minister of international relations Naledi Pandor once again showed the middle finger when she said in parliament that South Africa will not be forced to compromise its neutrality just to enjoy trade benefits from the US.

What “neutrality"?

Economists and business people have detailed in recent weeks the consequences for our economy and unemployment if South Africa is no longer part of the Agoa agreement.

Pandor's department has also unleashed hell on the premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, because he dared to travel to Washington to argue that South Africa should not be kicked out of Agoa. But the Western Cape fruit and nut industry would be particularly hard hit, and that makes it Winde's business. And he consulted trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel before leaving for the US.

“As a public servant and proudly South African, it is my duty to step in to try to secure our trade ties as the province stands to lose much more from an economic standpoint if South Africa's eligibility status to Agoa is not renewed," said Winde.

The government should encourage and support Winde in the hope that he will help persuade American lawmakers. But the ANC's wounded pride seems to be more important than the prosperity of the people of South Africa.

The same false pride was revealed at last week's summit between business leaders and the government when Ramaphosa warned the business community never to say they “help" the government because it would create the impression that his administration is inept. They should say they “work with" the government.

A turd by any other name will smell as foul.

Rats are jumping off the ship

The government owes the country's filthy rich nothing and doesn't need to grovel at their feet. But the uncomfortable truth is that we desperately need their capital, entrepreneurship and tax contributions.

According to the recent Africa Wealth Report by Henley & Partners, the number of South Africans with more than $1m in investable wealth has decreased by 690 to 37,800 due to emigration in the past year. The number of dollar millionaires in the country has declined by 21% in the last decade.

The editor of the Financial Mail, Rob Rose, writes this week that wealthy people worldwide are leaving their countries of origin. “But what is worrying is that the more competitive countries attract new talent back to replace those who've left. And while 100 wealthy people did return to South Africa last year, this was overshadowed by the 500 who left."

Listen to Uncle Noam

Here I am again with my admiration for Noam Chomsky, one of the greatest thinkers of our time who is as sharp as ever at 94.

That silly idiot Piers Morgan recently interviewed him. Fortunately, Morgan realised he was completely out of his depth and, contrary to his usual habit, let Chomsky speak without constant interruptions. The result is an intelligent and insightful interview.

Chomsky said his favourite American president was Franklin D Roosevelt. He described Donald Trump as a megalomaniac and psychopath who would establish a proto-fascist state if he became president again — a “disaster for the world".

Do yourself a favour and watch it, even if you don't agree. He also talks about Brexit, wokeism, critical race theory, and provides an insightful analysis of the conflict between the US and China.

♦ VWB ♦

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