The ANC leadership’s immoral history: Andrew Kenny

In a recent incident, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed Sudanese warlord Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, raising questions about his moral standing as an ANC leader. The Economist’s report on Sudan’s ongoing conflict, where Dagalo’s paramilitary forces face allegations of genocide, adds to the scrutiny. Ramaphosa’s contrasting stance on Israel, accusing them of potential regime change, further fuels the debate on ANC leaders’ consistency in addressing human rights violations. The article explores the historical context of ANC leadership, questioning whether Ramaphosa’s actions make him the most controversial figure to date.

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By Andrew Kenny

Is President Cyril Ramaphosa the most immoral leader the ANC has ever had? An incident and an image last month made me ponder this. Is he the biggest liar of all? Does he show the most ruthless contempt for ordinary black African people? 

On 4 January 2024, President Ramaphosa gave a warm welcome to a genocidal warlord bent on exterminating black African people in Sudan and fighting a bloody war for “regime change” there. Does this make Ramaphosa’s behaviour exceptional among ANC leaders?

The Economist magazine of 20-26 Jan 2024 had an article entitled, ‘“he worst warlord is winning. Why African leaders are embracing Sudan’s chief villain’. It was writing about ‘Sudan’s most infamous warlord, Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo (better known as Hemedti)’. In the bloody civil war that is tearing Sudan apart, ‘Mr Dagalo’s paramilitary body, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), is waging a war to the death against Sudan’s regular army, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), for control of the state. 

‘Since the fighting erupted last April, more than 7m Sudanese have been forced from their homes; 1.4m of them have fled to neighbouring countries. Khartoum, the capital, has been laid waste, while parts of the countryside are on the brink of famine.’ 

It says that neither side is angelic but that ‘Only the RSF faces credible allegations of genocide. Along with Arab militia, it is conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur, a region in the west, so bloody that many fear a repeat of the genocide there two decades ago’. (That genocide was committed by Omar al-Bashir. The present genocide by Dagalo is against the Masalit, a black African people). 

Dagalo has been visiting some African leaders. On 4 January 2024, he visited South Africa and was warmly welcomed by President Ramaphosa at his official residence in Pretoria. The Economist writes, ‘In a post on X, previously Twitter, which was later deleted, Cyril Ramaphosa, referred to his guest as “His Excellency President Mohamed Dagalo of Sudan”’. On the web you can see the two of them together, with Ramaphosa giving his big smile to the racist killer.

(In the above, I have quoted from the Economist, giving its and Ramaphosa’s different spelling of “Muhammad”.)

Last Tuesday, at an ANC lekgotla in Boksburg, Ramaphosa sank to a new low in shameless duplicity, well described by Ivo Vegter on Friday in the Daily Friend. Ramaphosa warned that Israel would fight back from South Africa’s case against it in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and might attempt “regime change”. Yet a month before, Ramaphosa had welcomed Dagalo from Sudan, who was not fantasising about an imaginary regime change but fighting a bloody war for a real one. Ramaphosa’s Freudian slip of first referring to Dagalo as the “President of Sudan” suggests that he thought Dagalo had already achieved regime change. Maybe that is why Ramaphosa’s smile was so wide; it was a smile of congratulation.

Hamas’s atrocity on 7 October certainly was genocidal in intention even if it didn’t manage to slaughter as many Jews as to count as genocide. Hamas wants to kill all the Jews and says so, very loudly, and will try again to do so as soon as it gets another chance, when the fighting ends. Its representatives have so on media. Israel merely wanted to defend herself by attacking the Hamas terrorists. I think she did so in a stupid and clumsy way, causing a heavy and tragic loss of life, but her intention was clearly not genocidal. 

In the Sudan, Omar al-Bashir’s intention was clearly genocidal. He wanted to kill as many black African people as he could. He managed to kill about 200,000. He also used the gang-rape of black women as an instrument of war. He visited South Africa in 2015, confident that he would be warmly welcomed, which he was. I suppose Ramaphosa, then Deputy President, gave him the warm smile he gave to Dagalo. The International Criminal Court (ICC) asked South Africa to arrest Bashir for his crimes against humanity. The ANC did not do so. It let him leave freely. Reporting on Ramaphosa’s weekly newsletter, Business Day, on 30 January 2024, wrote, ‘SA committed to international law, says Ramaphosa’.

We must ask Ramaphosa, ‘Why did you take international legal action against Israel, far away, for imagined genocide, but not against the Sudanese leader, in your own continent, visiting your own country, for actual genocide?’

To return to my opening question: is Cyril Ramaphosa the most immoral leader the ANC has ever had, the biggest liar, the cause of most suffering to ordinary African people? Actually, I don’t think so. He might be the most nauseating of all, the worst hypocrite, but if I try to be objective, I see that he has not been especially more immoral than any ANC leader since 1976. (From 1912 to about the 1950s, the ANC was a decent, liberal, Christian organisation simply wanting equal rights for all, not wanting to overthrow the establishment but to join it as a full member. From 1976 on it became a vicious, illiberal, highly intolerant party seeking not to end apartheid but to stop any other black party ending apartheid. 

Mandela was a shining exception among its leaders (and in prison during the crucial years), but most of the rest were appalling. Oliver Tambo led the “People’s War”, which was fought mainly against poor black people in the townships. He was fighting for power and wealth for the ANC, not for freedom for African people. 

Tambo ordered the necklacing of working-class black children caught going to local schools, while he used the liberation funds to send his own children to posh private schools in Britain. Thabo Mbeki was responsible for the deaths of about 300,000 black people through his mad ideas about HIV/AIDS, and was responsible for the brutal oppression of black people in Zimbabwe by his support of the tyrant, Robert Mugabe. 

Jacob Zuma also supported Mugabe but at least ended the madness on AIDS. His corruption was larger and more blatant than that of the others, but the whole ANC is rotten with corruption. Cyril Ramaphosa carries on the ANC’s immoral tradition with a big smile, with charming treachery, and with ruthless disregard for the ruin he has caused to most of our population.

The great fallacy today is that the ANC has lost its original high moral purpose because of Jacob Zuma or now Cyril Ramaphosa. The truth is that, in the last fifty years, it never had any high moral purpose. Its leaders had a low, immoral purpose.

What they all had in common was total contempt for ordinary black African people, here and elsewhere in Africa. They were all quite happy to sacrifice poor black people to achieve their own selfish ends. 

In its 30 years of rule, the ANC elite has impoverished the black working classes while making itself extremely rich. Led by the likes of Naledi Pandor, it has deliberately ruined the education of working-class children while sending its own children to expensive private or semi-private schools with white teachers. 

It has ruined the once quite good infrastructure of South Africa, with poor black people being the worst victims. For example, passenger rail for black commuters has been ruined by the ANC, while its leaders travel in BMWs and Mercedes. 

The ANC elite has caused record high unemployment among the masses while awarding itself enormously well-paid jobs in a huge government. It has caused untold suffering for ordinary black people in countries to our north. The Sudan and Zimbabwe are good examples.

For over a thousand years, the Arabs in the north of Sudan, and indeed in most of north Africa, have oppressed and enslaved black African people. In west Africa, black African slave traders caught other black people and sold them to Europeans to be shipped across the Atlantic to Christian countries in the Americas. 

In north Africa and east Africa, black businessmen helped the Arabs to catch black slaves, castrate the males, and send them all to Muslim countries in the Middle East. The persecution of black Africans by Arabs or by other black Africans has been tolerated by black leaders down the ages, it seems. 

When in the 1970s Idi Amin in Uganda systematically slaughtered up to half a million African people of other tribes, he was hailed as a great African hero by other African leaders and made chairman of the Organisation of African Unity. The ANC knows all about this, knows it has been going on for centuries. President Ramaphosa, in supporting Bashir and Dagalo as they slaughter African people, is simply following this tradition.

It is the same in Zimbabwe. The ANC knew that President Robert Mugabe and his security minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, had planned and executed Operation Gukurahundi, the systematic extermination of at least 20,000 and probably over 40,000 Ndebele men, women and children between 1983 and 1987. 

When the ANC came to power in 1994, its leaders, with the exception of Nelson Mandela, knowing they were dealing with racist mass murderers, fawned before Mugabe and Mnangagwa. When Mugabe seized the private farms in 2000 and drove nearly 800,000 black farm workers into unemployment and destitution, the ANC applauded. When Mugabe lost the 2008 election by a landslide, the ANC helped him crush the people of Zimbabwe and stay in power. The ANC knew exactly why millions of Zimbabwean people fled from Zimbabwe; they fled from terror and mass poverty. But the ANC did nothing to help them. It even tried to kick them out when they came here. 

Ramaphosa carries on the shameful tradition. When Mnangagwa “won” his latest crooked election, Ramaphosa, almost alone among SADC leaders, rushed over to Mnangagwa to congratulate him and kneel before him. He even tried pushing his mendacity to a new low by claiming all Zimbabwe’s woes were caused by Western sanctions. These were a few feeble sanctions against a small number of ZANU-PF criminals. The sanctions stopped Grace Mugabe flying to London to spend millions of dollars on jewelry and other luxury goods from Harrods to fill her mansions in Harare. Ramaphosa invites us to believe that if Grace Mugabe could still shop at Harrods, Zimbabwe would be flourishing now. 

When Idi Amin was slaughtering hundreds of thousands of black Africans, he claimed he was actually fighting the British Empire, and got a big cheer from African leaders. When Mugabe was terrorising the Zimbabwean people, he posed as an African liberation hero striking a blow against Imperialism, and got a big cheer from South Africa. When Ramaphosa is ruining the lives of poor black South Africans and supporting genocide in the Sudan, he takes court action against Israel and expects a big cheer from enemies of the West worldwide. He will get one. The enemies of the West regard Israel as a proxy for the West, and so see her as doubly hateful: Western and Jewish. 

All the mobs who chanted “Gas the Jews!” will cheer for Ramaphosa. Iran, now obsessed with fighting the Sunni abroad and with crushing women’s rights at home, will cheer for him (and might have given the ANC a lot of money to take on the ICJ case). The Houthi, now attacking tankers and other merchant ships in the Red Sea, will cheer for him. 

Will it help him in the election this year? He’s certainly hoping it will distract attention from his miserable record as President. Will it help him against the EFF and the new MK party, and against Jacob Zuma? I don’t care. Ramaphosa might be the most nauseating of all ANC/EFF leaders but morally he is not much different from any of the others. At the time, in 2017, I was naïve enough to hope Ramaphosa and not Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma became the new president. Now I realise it didn’t matter which one it was. If we cannot get rid of the ANC altogether, I don’t care which of its ghastly leaders or ex-leaders we get.

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This article was first published by Daily friend and is republished with permission

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