Remembering Madiba: Defeating the cabal’s narrative

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Dr Survé also hinted to us who this cabal was that was trying to continue on our country’s path of destruction. “Control of the economy”, he wrote, “still remains firmly in the hands of the pre-democracy capital owning cabal.

Walking the streets of Cape Town again, after a three-year sojourn in Beijing, one looks at all the different faces acknowledging all their different historical and current backgrounds. There is one thing though that is almost common in each of these South Africans. All of us want a better future. If not for us, then certainly for our children.

A few weeks ago, accomplished businessman and philanthropist, Dr Iqbal Survé, wrote an article “New Era: Resisting the Cabal’s Quest for Power.” Dr Survé did not point directly to this cabal nor did he use the opportunity to throw mud. A practice that is so common in our national discourse today.

Instead, he pointed to the true example and lasting legacy of Nelson Mandela and encouraged us to resist “casting blame whilst not looking in the mirror.” In order to establish this “new pattern, we need to adopt new habits and that starts with a fundamental rooting out of corruption and having leaders whose moral compass is a light by which everyone can be guided.”

But Dr Survé also hinted to us who this cabal was that was trying to continue on our country’s path of destruction. “Control of the economy”, he wrote, “still remains firmly in the hands of the pre-democracy capital owning cabal. Coupled with this, is the consummate greed of the post-democracy ruling political elite, who have now joined forces with the old clique…”

A week after Dr Survé’s piece, academic and deputy-vice chancellor at the University of Zululand, Professor Sipho Seepe, reflecting on the testimony of the minister of public enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry suggested seven take home lessons for South Africans.

With Dr Survé’s piece in mind, lesson 3, 5 and 6 were particularly interesting. Lesson three suggested the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into the South African Revenue Service was a complete farce while lesson five stated the complicity of some in the media have had in spreading the gossip, hearsay and rumours purported by Minister Gordhan. Metaphorically speaking, the pieces of some members of the judiciary and the media were added to Dr Survé’s cabal puzzle.

Let me be clear. Dr Survé never suggested that the judiciary and the media are part of the cabal he identified. Yet if one were to put the pieces of the puzzle together one would be able to see the network of narrative capture as it were.

This leads us to the narrative that this cabal perpetuates. While Professor Seepe suggests that Napoleon’s Waterloo went through his mind when he was watching the testimony of Minister Gordhan, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s “manufactured consent” went through mine. Mass communication are used as “effective and ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion.”

The narrative that the Russians meddled in the 2016 US presidential elections was manufactured and peddled for years before it was finally dismissed by the Mueller Report. A report which cost millions of US dollars to produce.

South Africans have been on this road before when in the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the Arms Deal we had to come to know that the so-called De Lille Dossier was also, like Gordhan’s testimony, filled with gossip, innuendo and rumors. No evidence. Like the Zondo Commission, the Seriti Commission also cost South Africans hundreds of millions of Rands.

Professor Seepe ends with a quote from University of Johannesburg academic, Professor Stevn Friedman, who stated that the challenge we have as a country is that there is no space for alternate views but rather that the views and words of the likes of Gordhan are used in manufacturing consent. Paraphrasing Friedman this manufactured consent has become so strong that those who challenge it are the ones taking risks.

Remembering Madiba these days as we continue to look at different South African faces, we will continue to take those risks to defeat this anti-Madiba cabal and speaking out against this manufactured consent. We must build a South Africa where all faces and views are respected and treated equally. We may not deserve this but all our children certainly do.

Wesley Seale completed his PhD in Beijing, China.