Zuma's racist painting: Time for the ANC leadership to wake up!
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Make no mistake about it, and this is quite sad, but the time has come for black Africans to understand and do something about the tragic fact that while South Africa's de jure leadership is black, the de facto control of that country is a white minority which owns and runs the economy, the judiciary and the media, all which are racist to the core.
The uncomfortable bottomline is that South Africa is a white-controlled black country and the dysfunctional consequences of this tragedy are yet to fully play out with very worrying signs everywhere that all hell is about to break loose.
It is a shame that the white minority which has de facto control of South Africa is taking full advantage without let or hindrance of self-serving and false claims to human rights, governance and anti-corruption in the false name of international law not only to halt but also to reverse the gains that black South Africans made in 1994 when democracy was allegedly won or achieved in that troubled country.
While this is bad enough, what is worse is that the same self-indulgent white minority whose numbers include die-hard racists who converged in South Africa from fallen white settler regimes in Rhodesia, Portuguese Mozambique and Angola and South West Africa (now Namibia) are using their new apartheid base through organisations such as Afriforum and the so-called Southern African Litigation Centre to reverse the gains of liberation throughout Southern Africa under the cover of phoney claims to human rights and good governance.
So it is that as Africans at home and in the Diaspora celebrated the 2012 edition of Africa Day, there was utter mayhem triggered by the display in the vulgar name of art and corrupt freedom of expression at some racist gallery and the website of a racist newspaper of a pathetic painting of President Zuma with his genitals exposed styled as a spear.
It is frankly staggering to imagine, let alone to think, that this mayhem unfolded as it is still unfolding in the one country whose black leadership never lose a moment to pretend that it should by entitlement lead the rest of Africa and that it has the solutions to all African problems ostensibly because its country has the biggest economy on the continent on the basis of which South Africa's black leadership is seeking a permanent seat at the outdated and increasingly irrelevant UN's Security Council and on the basis of which the same leadership is hoping, with customary Sadc support, its respected and quite able former minister of foreign affairs now in charge of home affairs â€” Nkosazana Zuma â€” should be elected at the forthcoming AU summit in Malawi in July as the continental body's next chairperson to replace the widely unpopular Jean Ping whose treachery in favour of Europe â€” especially France â€” against Africa has mobilised critical votes against him beyond recovery.
There's no need to waste time belabouring the question whether the patently offensive and unAfrican phallic painting of President Zuma constitutes acceptable artistic expression or is defendable as freedom of expression.
Those among us who have invoked artistic expression of freedom of expression to defend that painting are either racists who know exactly what they are saying against African leadership and the human dignity of Africans or are just Uncle Toms who do not know what they are saying in the vain hope of winning praise and acceptance from the very same white racists who are behind the offensive painting.
The fact of the matter is that self-righteous whites in South Africa would be outraged beyond description if a painting of Helen Zille, the racist leader of the DA, were to be done by a black artist and depicted in the pose of the late celebrated American prostitute â€” Linda Lovelace â€” with Zille's genitals fully exposed and captioned "Fight back like Deepthroat".
While pundits in South Africa who are clear victims of apartheid propaganda can continue fooling themselves about the offensive Zuma painting under a false discourse about artistic expression and freedom of expression, Africans around the world who celebrated Africa Day last Friday know only too well that the real issue in South Africa is about who controls what and therefore who shall govern on the basis of what they control.
There's an urgent need to unpack, understand and to do something about the tragedy that is unfolding in South Africa's tragic governance whose implications are far-reaching for the African state.
It is a common cause that the colonial state in Africa immediately reproduced itself through neo-colonialism through which Western imperialists took control of the economies of the newly independent states during decolonisation.
The neo-colonial idea was that independence meant the Africans would control their politics while the commanding heights of the economy remained in the white hands of imperialists.
While this neo-colonial faÃ§ade appeared to be the case in countries that did not have white settler communities such as are found in the Southern African countries of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and especially South Africa whose white population numbers some astounding millions, the post-apartheid situation with regard to the balance of forces that have now emerged clearly show that there's something new and dangerous about neo-colonialism which for want of a better term is best described as post-neo-colonialism.
Whereas neo-colonialism sought to hijack the control of the economy from black independence, the essence of post-neo-colonialism that is best characterised by the tragedy that is unfolding in South Africa highlighted by the offensive Zuma painting is to hijack not only the economy from black independence but also to hijack the entire political landscape of black independence by controlling and subjugating the politics of black majority rule through the manipulative instruments of the judiciary, the media and the economy dominated under the guise of artistic expression, freedom of expression, human rights, good governance and anti-corruption driven by the very same white minority that was supposed to have been deposed by the independence struggle with the assistance of the so-called international community.
The dynamics of the post-neo-colonial state are particularly pronounced in the Southern African countries that had entrenched white settler communities but they are not limited to these countries as the evidence of post-neo-colonial politics is now palpable, for example in Malawi where that country's sovereignty is taking quite some battering following the as-yet-unexplained demise of President Bingu wa Mutharika under very controversial circumstances that are now the subject of an official inquiry ordered by President Joyce Banda.
But back to the mayhem in South Africa caused by the offensive and totally unacceptable display of the phallic painting of President Zuma which injured his human dignity and that of all Africans, it was instructive to note that the South African state under its black leadership was left clueless about what to do. In the end the ANC resorted to court action whose consequence was not only to further embarrass President Zuma but also to confirm who, in fact, is in charge of Azania otherwise known as South Africa.
In the first place the court obviously controlled by the white minority took its sweet time to set down the hearing of the matter which had been filed on an urgent basis. Then the court, presided over by white judges who had no difficulty showing their sympathy for the offending painter, Brett Murray, who hides his shocking racism under the silly claim that he is a satirical artist who used to be but is no longer a supporter of the ANC, made it clear that it did not understand how the painting could be said to be racist and that in any case banning it would be difficult because "the image is already out there on the internet".
Strangely but tellingly the same court did not have any qualms about ordering a belated international blackout of the footage showing the ANC lawyer â€” Gcina Malindi â€” in a sea of tears in response to some racist questioning by the presiding judge Claasen when the fact is that the court proceedings were being screened live and could not be blocked after the fact.
It was telling that Judge Claasen found it easy well after the fact to black out a live broadcast of a black lawyer he cruelly made to weep with racist questioning in order to protect himself but he did not find it within him to interdict the offensive phallic painting of President Zuma because the judge was clearly part of the post-neo-colonial control of African politics by abusing the law to humiliate African leaders in the hope of breaking the African spirit for freedom with dignity.
Africans following the latest court battle in South Africa over Zuma's dehumanising painting have been comparing the case with that of the former president of ANC youth league, Julius Malema, whose singing of a liberation song "shoot the Boer" was said to be "incitement to murder" by a white judge, Leon Halgryn, who in a case brought before him by a racist NGO called Afriforum astonishingly ruled that "the publication and chanting of the words â€˜dubula ibhunu' prima facie satisfies the crime of incitement to murder".
The substance of the political message from Judge Halgryn in the Malema "dubula ibhunu'' case is not different from that of Judge Claasen in the case of President Zuma's offensive painting, save for the obvious double standard rooted in the new racism that clearly poses a serious, clear and present danger to South Africa's so-called 1994 democracy which is not the same as independence.
But where is all this coming from and where is it going?
On May 29 1998, then South Africa's Deputy President Thabo Mbeki made a seminal "two-nations speech" at the opening debate in Parliament in Cape Town entitled "Reconciliation and Nation Building" in which he said "we therefore make bold to say that South Africa is a country of two nations.
One of these nations is white, relatively prosperous, regardless of gender or geographic dispersal.
It has ready access to a developed economic, physical, educational, communication and other infrastructure. This enables it to argue that, except for the persistence of gender discrimination against women, all members of this nation have the possibility to exercise their rights to equal opportunity, the development opportunities to which the Constitution of '93 committed our country.
The second and larger nation of South Africa is black and poor, with the worst affected being women in the rural areas, the black rural population in general and the disabled. This nation lives under the conditions of a grossly under-developed economic, physical, educational, communication and other infrastructure.
It has virtually no possibility to exercise what in reality amounts to a theoretical right to equal opportunity, with that right being equal within this black nation only to the extent that it is equally incapable of realisation.
The reality of two nations, underwritten by the perpetuation of the racial, gender, and spatial disparities born of a very long period of colonial and apartheid white minority domination, constitutes the material base which reinforces the notion that, indeed, we are not one nation, but two nations. And neither are we becoming one nation. Consequently, also, the objective of national reconciliation is not being realised".
Nothing has better dramatised South Africa's two nations than Brett Murray's phallic painting of President Zuma and the reaction to it from South Africa's white-controlled media, judiciary and business community run by white racists who apparently think their prejudices are equal to artistic expression and freedom of expression. God help South Africa.
Professor Jonathan Moyo is MP for Tsholotsho North (Zanu PF)
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