May 18, 2012
Criminalisation of the StateBack
© Reuse this
In this article, however, I want to focus on a narrow but equally worrying aspect of the deep State. I am worried about how internal battles in the African National Congress (ANC) may lead to the criminalisation of the State and how such criminalisation may itself impose deeper levels of decline on the organisational, qualitative, strategic, moral, disciplinary and leadership dimensions of internal ANC dynamics. In fact, my main concern is that what I see as the criminalisation of some of our State agencies is part of a broader problem that both predates and is a product of the reconfiguration of the relationship between State power and party politics since the advent of democracy in 1994.
In addition, the reconfiguration of the relationship between State power and party politics seems to be giving birth to another tendency – the creation of political, security and intelligence networks that are based on the mutual interests of former apartheid Special Branch and intelligence operatives and their former liberation movement counterparts. All this is happening in the context of single-party dominance, a civil society movement that is only now beginning to wake up from two decades of slumber and a citizenry that is beginning to recover from the debilitating effects of being too reliant on the State and the party political space.
In short, single-party dominance and a demobilised citizenry, given a particular arrangement of political variables and configuration of political power, may be the greatest danger facing our democracy. Let me illustrate my point in the most alarmist of ways: those among us who are suspicious about the poli- tical motives behind the decision to review the work of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeals, whose own motives I will not go into for now, must bear in mind that there is no court on this planet that can defend our democracy should the day dawn when society has become so demobilised that a faction of autocrats in the dominant party decides not to review but to scrap our Constitution altogether.
We have two choices – we can either hold on tightly to our sense of South African excep- tionalism or, in the belief that the undemocratic things that have happened elsewhere can happen to us, begin to add to those voices that are expressing genuine concerns about things ignoble that seek to entrench themselves in our political culture.
I am being alarmist for a reason. My intention is to scare the country and members of the ruling party into realising that some of the things that are happening in the ANC and some of our security agencies have the potential to poison our political culture and lead to the materialisation of our worst political fears.
As it is, we are trying to build a new nation out of the ravages of apartheid. Apartheid and 46 years of the single-party dominance of the National Party imposed a State-led culture of political violence and intole- rance on our people. The violence of the eighties and early nineties between supporters of the ANC and of the Inkatha Freedom Party was part of this apartheid logic of violence.
I am highlighting this dynamic out of the fear that, if not in future, some factions in the current ANC battle for Mangaung may be tempted to rely on a thinly disguised ethnic agenda and the expertise of former apartheid operatives in a campaign against real and perceived political enemies inside and outside the ruling party. I am being this alarmist because, if the ANC fails in its attempts at organisational renewal, opposition parties remain weak in relation to performing the task of being agencies of restraint, we continue to rely too much on politicians and political parties and succumb to the exceptionalist impulse, the most backward among us will one day take control of the ANC and the State with dire consequences for us all.
Ordinarily, I should be fortifying my argument with examples and the names of those I believe exemplify that which has caused me to pen this missive. Perhaps, I am being cowardly but the reality is that I am too afraid to risk the coincidence of mentioning names and my computer being stolen, my house burgled and cars stolen under the most suspicious of circumstances and being shot at.
Do you remember the song by Sting, They Dance Alone? It was inspired by the disappearance of activists, intellectuals, journalists, students and lawyers who dared to oppose an authoritarian Latin American regime.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Video News
Updated 5 minutes ago Although the low oil price, security threats and political vulnerabilities remain worrying factors for Nigeria’s fiscal outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has commended the country’s authorities for making progress in promoting economic diversification,...
Updated 13 minutes ago French nuclear vendor Areva says its value proposition for South Africa’s proposed new nuclear build programme remains intact, despite far-reaching restructuring initiatives being undertaken at the troubled State-owned company, which reported a €4.8-billion loss for...
Updated 24 minutes ago Cabinet has approved the five-year Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Strategic Framework, as well as the Agricultural Policy Action Plan (Apap). The strategic framework and Apap would be updated yearly, Cabinet advised in a media statement on Wednesday.
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
This Week's Magazine
Eqstra Holdings was going to reduce its exposure to contract mining, but it was not yet ready to sell the troubled business, said CEO Walter Hill on Tuesday. He said Eqstra would not sell its contract mining business in a “depressed market”. He said it would be...
Subscribe to Engineering News and Mining Weekly for two years, but only pay for the first year. The weekly editions of Engineering News and Mining Weekly will be posted to your preferred postal address and also gain access to:
National flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) is in an advanced stage of renegotiating its deal with European airliner manufacturer Airbus to acquire A320 single-aisle (or narrow body) aircraft. The aim is to replace ten of the aircraft still on order with five...
Worldwide, the main thrust in the ports industry over the past decade or more has been to increase efficiency. Traditionally, ports have been run by engineers and mariners and, in the past, increasing a port’s capacity was achieved by expanding the harbour. “That has...
What do you do when an elephant has a toothache? You call Dr Gerhard Steenkamp from the University of Pretoria’s (UP’s) faculty of veterinary science, Onderstepoort, one of only two elephant ‘dentists’ in the world.