/OPINION: Cronin attack of Zille virtue signalling at its worst

OPINION: Cronin attack of Zille virtue signalling at its worst

2019-08-17 07:00

There is no connection between Zille and Zuma. Zille is entitled to have an opinion, and her opinion will carry weight as we see the ANC/SACP marching us further down the road of NDR to perfect communism, writes Sara Gon.

It is
strangely reassuring to see Comrade Jeremy Cronin of the SA Communist Party (SACP)
criticising Helen
Zille’s views.

He
begins to dwelling on “what, to use her terms, that arch ‘communist
concept national democratic [NDR] revolution’ actually means”. Cronin, however,
fails to explain either what he means by the concept, or what he thinks Zille
means.

The ANC
has made it absolutely clear that the policies it is implementing or is
proposing are in accordance with the inexorable march of the NDR. The end
result of the NDR is a utopian communist state with the ruinous ideas of expropriation
without compensation, prescribed assets, and the National Health Insurance
shortcutting us away from utopia into the mire of junk status.

Cronin then
discusses Zille’s “Cold War litmus test”. She essentially argues that
state capture was not simply an aberration of the “Zuma era”, but an
essential element of the NDR programme to which Cyril Ramaphosa and Pravin
Gordhan, while certainly less corrupt than others in the ANC, remain committed
and are thus inextricably part of the problem.

Cronin regards this analysis as being both “tactically and strategically inept”.
All he says to support his view is that “it ends up with exactly the same
positioning that the Zuma fight-back campaign, routed through the Public
Protector, seeks to achieve around investigating campaign donations to
Ramaphosa”.

How
this symmetry is reached is unfathomable. It is difficult, nay, impossible to
understand how this analysis compares favourably or at all with the Zuma
fight-back campaign.

In a
moment which he describes as “post-New Dawn depression” he turns his
attention to Zille’s advocacy of “a far-reaching realignment of South
African politics, to build a new ‘centre majority’ of South Africans”.

It is
reassuring if somewhat depressing that Cronin recognises that we are in a state
of depression, but he asks “Who is to be in? And who is to be excluded
from Zille’s envisaged grand realignment in defence of constitutionalism and
non-racialism?”

Any
realignment in the political sphere would be on classically liberal principles.
Those who support the principles choose whether to join the programme or not.
Exclusion will simply depend on the fact that those being excluded don’t
support liberal principles. The nature and form of the “realignment”
presumably is yet to be articulated. 

Cronin proceeds
to state that it’s too simplistic to divide the ANC into “good guys”
and “bad guys”. Our response to that is simply when an ideology and
the practice of that ideology result in disastrous and destructive governance,
the “good guys” also become the “bad guys”. This is either because
they are unable to halt the slide or unable to change an ideology that achieves
disastrous results.

Cronin
engages politely, but somewhat patronisingly: “Zille, for all of her
undoubted pluckiness, can be extraordinarily muddle-headed.” He refers to
the Twitter furore over her ‘colonialism’ tweets. Certainly different phrasing
might have triggered less outrage, but factually it is correct. Views on the
subject are entirely based on opinion not on facts. No meaningful debate can be
held on such topics, borne out by what Cronin goes on to say.

Cronin deviously
suggests that Zille praised colonialism, for “having brought, amongst
other things, piped water to the dark folk of the world”. If Zille
referred to “the dark folk of the world”, we couldn’t find it. At
best, the comment is Cronin’s opinion of what she said, distilled through his
political prism; at worst it is a lie. If she didn’t say it, it is a lie. This
signifies that Cronin fears the significant debate to be held over the horrors and
the benefits wrought by different colonialisms, in different parts of the world,
at different times. At the moment, debates like this just cannot take place.

Cronin tackles
Zille’s “confusion over the idea of a NDR and her colonialism muddle”
as being related. He refers to the SACP and ANC’s adoption of the NDR in
relation to Lenin’s “colonialism of a special type”. It was “special”
because it was imposed from within. This analysis neither diminishes nor
confuses Zille’s views on the NDR. The fact that South Africa’s colonialism
experience was imposed both internally and externally doesn’t make that much
difference. Lenin fashioned a new category for an anomaly.

Frankly
it doesn’t matter why the NDR was adopted. It was a strategy of the Soviet
Union based on classic Marxist-Leninist policies. How the issues it sought to
resolve or improve came about don’t affect the adoption of the NDR. The NDR was
adopted because the ANC and SACP saw it as a solution to a problem. The sarcasm
of saying that the NDR wasn’t to “proclaim a struggle against piped water”
just displays an attempt to attribute something false to Zille.

Cronin says
that the structures of apartheid/colonialism in our system are still largely
untransformed. In the early years of ANC rule, however, significant gains were
made. Yet, persisting inequalities exist almost entirely because of the ANC’s
policy choices and policy execution: BEE, cadre deployment, economic stasis. Constantly
invoking South Africa’s history holds us back and no more so than in the
adherence to a failed ideology that led to state capture. Our history should
inform our future, not dictate it.

Cronin welcomes
the human rights campaigning of Helen Suzman or the Black Sash in the granite
years of high apartheid. But he fails to acknowledge that Suzman’s human rights
campaigning were embedded in strong, classically liberal principles.

Laughably,
he then attributes vulgarised versions of the NDR to the Zuma-aligned grouping.
But Cronin’s complaint that “that’s no excuse for Zille’s cut-and-paste
Cold War-era hatchet job – particularly when the stakes are so high” is
seriously deficient.

There
is no connection between Zille and Zuma. Zille is entitled to have an opinion,
and her opinion will carry weight as we see the ANC/SACP marching us further
down the road of NDR to perfect communism – destroying the country in the
process, despite all advice.

The sad
virtue signalling with his awful experience with security police during
apartheid in 1976 adds nothing to the debate; it has no correlation to Zille’s
views. It is just virtue signalling.

It is
his article that is muddled. Is Cronin desperately trying to make sense of an
NDR on the road to a communist utopia that has hit the skids?

– Sara Gon is a policy fellow at the Institute
of Race Relations (IRR), a think tank that promotes political and economic
freedom.

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