Tuesday, February 17, 2009



By Justice Malala
Feb 16, 2009

The ANC knew of his wrongdoings but still appointed him
The movement is now just another grubby political party
Displays of wealth oust loyalty to principles

IT IS often said that tragic tales are not new. They have been told before, in our bedtime stories and when tales were told around the fire when we were young.

Niehaus stabs ANC in the back

You will know by now that ANC spokesman and struggle veteran Carl Niehaus has, over the past few years, lied to the government, the church and the country in order to have and maintain an incredibly expensive lifestyle. According to the Mail & Guardian’s exposé on Friday, among other things Niehaus did the following:forged signatures while he was chief executive of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency before resigning in December 2005;borrowed money over a six-year period from some of the brightest stars of the ANC and business galaxy, much of which he has not paid back; asked to be connected to Brett Kebble because he was “desperate for financial help”;owed the Rhema Church more than R700,000 when he was asked to resign from his post as the church’s chief executive and spokesman by a full board meeting in 2004.

That was not the end of it. The man who not only bought a Porsche and other expensive cars — so he could keep up appearances — also lived in a R45,000-a-month house, despite being unable to pay the rent, the Sunday Times revealed yesterday.

The ANC knew about this but still appointed him its spokesman last year.

The story of Carl Niehaus is a tragedy foretold. Delivering the Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture at the University of Witwatersrand on July 29 2006, the then president, Thabo Mbeki, spoke of the ‘‘demons embedded in our society”. His lecture is a towering achievement that should be read by everyone who wants to understand what the ANC is going through today.

I beg to borrow from him: “Thus, every day, and during every hour of our time beyond sleep, the demons embedded in our society, that stalk us at every minute, seem always to beckon each one of us towards a realisable dream and nightmare. With every passing second, they advise, with rhythmic and hypnotic regularity — ‘Get rich! get rich! get rich!’

“And thus has it come about that many of us accept that our common natural instinct to escape from poverty is but the other side of the same coin, on whose reverse side are written the words — ‘At all costs, get rich!’

“In these circumstances, personal wealth, and the public communication of the message that we are people of wealth, becomes, at the same time, the means by which we communicate the message that we are worthy citizens of our community, the very exemplars of what defines the product of a liberated South Africa.

“This peculiar striving produces the particular result that manifestations of wealth, defined in specific ways, determine the individuality of each one of us who seeks to achieve happiness and self-fulfilment, given the liberty that the revolution of 1994 brought to all of us.

“In these circumstances, the meaning of freedom has come to be defined not by the seemingly ethereal and therefore intangible gift of liberty, but by the designer labels on the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the spaciousness of our houses and our yards, their geographic location, the company we keep, and what we do as part of that company.

“In the event that what I have said has come across as a meaningless ramble, let me state what I have been saying more directly.

“It is perfectly obvious that many in our society, having absorbed the value system of the capitalist market, have come to the conclusion that, for them, personal success and fulfilment means personal enrichment at all costs, and the most theatrical and striking public display of that wealth.

“What this means is that many in our society have come to accept that what is socially correct is not the proverbial expression — ‘Manners maketh the man’ — but the notion that each one of us is as excellent a human being as our demonstrated wealth suggests!”

Mbeki then went on to quote George Soros: “Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value. What is more expensive is considered better … The cult of success has replaced a belief in principles. Society has lost its anchor…”

There are many Carl Niehauses in the ANC leadership. The party, unless it does something dramatic, is finished.

It will win this year’s election, but 2014? And after that?
It is over for the continent’s oldest liberation movement. It is now just another grubby political party.