Smokescreens and deflections by villains of society

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER

Denial, distractions, innuendo and villains as victims.

It’s all in the game. Smokescreens, ruses, dissonant discourses, deflections and distracting noises. . .

It’s all in the game of politics.

The game is played with scapegoats, victims, innocents and villains, and claims of bullying, on a field of shifting moralities.

In application, this particular game of politics rests on the shifting of blame, of responsibility or accountability, avoiding embarrassment or, as my mother used to say, being skaam kwaad (embarrassed angry).

This anger is often created after one is embarrassed about having been caught in the act of doing something wrong, something untoward or downright wicked.

The trick is to point fingers at others, create scapegoats thereby elevating your own innocence or moral superiority.

These tactics are, of course, not unique to any particular group.

The one thing that unites all those who deploy sarcasm, denial, innuendo and deliberate counter-accusations is that they have something to hide, or that they have been exposed as part of unethical or unjust conduct.

The latest tricks include claims that your social media account has been hacked, that those who oppose you are simply racist (or a stooge of white monopoly capitalism) or that you have received death threats.

These claims have in recent weeks and months been used over and again, to create smokescreens, ruses, to create distracting noises, or to claim justification for one’s own abuse of power and even of violence.

These tactics lead politics into a chamber of echoes and mirrors where it becomes difficult to figure out the truth or separate fact from fiction.

Last week ANC secretarygeneral Ace Magashule’s official Twitter timeline carried a statement “confirming” that the ANC’s national executive committee had “agreed to expand the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank beyond price stability to include growth and employment”.

The tweet was a direct contradiction of the presidency’s affirmation of the independence and respect for the bank mandate to protect the currency and price stability in the interests of sustainable and balanced economic growth.

After he was caught contradicting what appears to have been an official position by the ruling party, Magashule said his Twitter account had been hacked.

Also last week, the public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, said there was an orchestrated campaign to discredit her, that she had been poisoned and that her family had been threatened.

Mkhwebane is associated, in the public perception, with a group of people (including Magashule, dodgy characters like Andile Lungisa, Carl Niehaus and any number of people implicated in state capture or corruption) who want to undermine inquiries into state capture and maladministration in state-owned enterprises.

The daddy of those who use smokescreens, create ruses, dissonant discourses, deflections and distracting noises is, of course, the EFF, which has ready-made answers and explanations for anyone who disagrees with it and anything it does that may be illicit.

Earlier last week, an EFF member of parliament, Marshall Dlamini, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court for allegedly slapping a police officer after the 2019 state of the nation address.

The attack was captured on video and circulated widely.

The EFF first claimed that the scuffle was in response to a death threat against party leader Julius Malema.

In his response, Dlamini said he was dealing with a “racist clown” when the warrant officer was struck.

We have a situation, now, where Magashule is pardoned because his Twitter account had allegedly been hacked.

Mkhwebane, who claimed she was appointed as public protector by “God”, was being persecuted, probably for doing God’s work.

The EFF’s Dlamini, caught on video hitting a police officer, considered his attack justified because of death threats against Malema and because the police officer was [allegedly] racist.

We have to be clear that all death threats should be taken seriously.

There are very many people who have had their lives taken and others have had to live in the shadows because of actual or perceived threats.

Racism is a scourge that has wracked very many societies.

It is deployed subtly and insidiously, often with a great smile and using the most diplomatic of language.

Expediently assuming victim status, or innocence – especially once you have been exposed as venal, corrupt and involved in the most heinous of activities – can buy you a reprieve.

The better angels of one’s nature would hope that justice will be done, but we live in the most difficult of times.

Since 1990, South Africans have made compromises and struck bargains that have not always been optimal, but they made us “move on”.

While some of the old villains have departed, and no longer play an active role in politics and society, new ones have emerged across society and now hide behind the most fantastic of ruses, smokescreens, and within halls of echoes and mirrors.

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