Umkhonto weSizwe and ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang was a guest on Eusebius on TimesLIVE, discussing the importance of language and naming in politics after the victory of the “Taliban” slate in the recent ANC KwaZulu-Natal leadership contests.
Msimang had penned a general lament about the poor quality of political leadership in KZN. It included a comment about why it is regrettable to self-refer as Taliban when naming a group contesting for political positions in a democratic society.
Msimang, prompted by host McKaiser, said conventions around naming signal ideological positioning to the political market, and therefore should not to be regarded as frivolous and unimportant.
He shared examples of political names, such as ones that might include a reference, to a Christian God, that would immediately establish a political party’s identity.
Given that words matter, the name Taliban, argued Msimang, conjures imagery of forces that are violent and misogynistic rather than ones that share the values the ANC asserts, including sensitivity to gender justice.
McKaiser suggested the political victory of this slate in KZN must surely signal a bigger problem within the ANC itself?
Msimang said it is disturbing the nomenclature had hardly caused a stir within the ANC, and said he, as a veteran, could therefore not defend the ANC as theoretically capable of redirecting on these kinds of issues.
The discussion ended with Msimang and McKaiser drawing links between the naming controversy, and a general commitment, or lack thereof, to considerations of ethics within ANC leadership structures.
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