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
Other Aubrey Matshiqi News
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2014: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2014 report provides an overview of the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon steel and stainless...
Projects in Progress 2014 - First Edition (PDF Report)
This publication contains insight into progress at the delayed Medupi and Kusile coal-fired projects, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo respectively, as well as at the Ingula pumped-storage scheme, which is under construction on the border between the Free State and...
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
This Week's Magazine
The Electronic Systems Laboratory (ESL) of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University is strongly reaffirming its position as one of South Africa’s leading centres for satellite technology and expertise. It is currently...
The world’s lowest-cost diesel-electric locomotive is not made in China, but in Pretoria, at RRL Grindrod Locomotives’ newly upgraded 30 000 m2 plant. The company’s locomotive pricing is “more competitive than any other original-equipment manufacturer (OEM)...
The South African Defence Review 2012, released to the public at the end of last month (despite the year given in its title) recommends the creation of the post of Chief Defence Scientist. This official would be responsible for the management of defence technology...
AltX-listed engineering technology company Ansys has been awarded an R188-million contract by Transnet to supply integrated dashboard display systems to the freight rail utility’s locomotives. Black-owned and controlled Ansys developed the bespoke integrated system...
South Africa’s sole nuclear power station Koeberg, which is located in the Western Cape, breached a major operations milestone on April 4, which marked the thirtieth anniversary of Unit 1 having been connected to the grid. Eskom, which operates the two-unit plant,...