OPINIONISTA

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane: Dear Mosiuoa ‘Terror’ Lekota…. Let’s talk frankly

It’s been a while since our days at COPE and I was hoping never to confront you about anything in this lifetime. Your destruction of the fledging party is well documented and one hoped that you would go quiety into that good night as the party licks the last of its wounds. But it was not to be, because here we go again.

I have observed your bizarre utterances with utter disgust lately and I know that owing to your tinpot dictatorial tendencies few around you would have called you to the side and told you the truth. The three people around you are probably too embarrassed to keep explaining your utterances away, so let me be of help. Frankly, you are beginning to sound rather senile. Your latest embarrassing missive is that fellow Africans who come here for refuge – the same way that your comrades in the ANC did at the height of apartheid – must be confined to refugee camps and kept away from South African society. What an anti-black consciousness view to articulate on the eve of Mandela’s birthday. Ntate Lekota, Madiba, who would have turned 100 this week, should be turning in his grave in shame over you. In your black consciousness days you would have given a sermon about how black people are the same regardless of their origin on this continent. You would have reminded those younger than you that the Freedom Chatter says South Africa belongs to all those who live in it regardless of colour and creed. This is because your comrades were refugees in many countries where refugee camps were an abomination. Only those who were in those countries for military training were confined to camps – none of the other exiles, the OR Tambos of this world, were ever forced to live in refugee camps. Just give a call to any of your former ANC comrades to refresh your mind about the fact that they were refugees in people’s homes across Africa. I know the years are showing, Ntate Lekota, but even you with little or no higher education will remember that this economy with which you are so precious about was built by the blood and tears of people from Lesotho – where even you have relatives. People from Zambia, Swaziland and Namibia whose forefathers died in the mines where your black consciousness friends like Dr Mamphela Ramphele now have shares. Your memory is now failing you as you spit on their graves so spectacularly. But the refugee camps nonsense is not the only thing that has been keeping you and your three-person party in the headlines for the wrong reasons. At the recent land summit held at Unisa, you apparently told people unashamedly that after leaving the ANC in a huff back in 2008 “you are still ANC”. This is most shameful as 1.3 million people wasted their votes on COPE in the 2009 polls with the promise of an alternative when it was just your way of having an MP’s salary, hence a decade later “you are after all still ANC”! But I digress. According to your bizarre logic, white people who stole land from our people must be left alone to own that land – because when the ANC argues that land must be returned to our people your retort is, “Who is our people?’” You invoke the Freedom Charter that says that land belongs to all who work it, then forgetting this quickly you want to confine “our people” to refugee camps. So whites are our people and African refugees are not? Wow, Ntate Lekota! You are no different from Helen Zille who called black people refugees in the Western Cape and glorified colonialism by seeing a silver lining in it. So the dispossessors of land must be forgotten because their descendants are now suddenly also “our people”? What about redress – can you spell the word these days? What happened to your black consciousness, Ntate Lekota? Why advance such reactionary doctrines so shamelessly? Have you given up on the dream of the real Congress of the People that recognised no artificial borders created by colonisers? Have you given up on the dream of land being restored to the African majority? I remember in the early days of COPE when many of us looked up to you – you single-phandedly killed the potential of that party by attempting to shield white people from transformation. When the party was launched you spewed such nonsense about BEE and affirmative action and made the party a complete laughing stock when you said with a straight face: “Race will no longer be used as a criteria for affirmative action” (sic). It was chilling that a man who has sat in Cabinet for over a decade, a man who chaired the ANC for 10 years, would say such a totally illiterate thing. And so black organisations such as the Black Lawyers Association and the Black Management Forum were correctly outraged and buried any electoral prospects for COPE in the 2009 elections. Now you sit in Parliament as a shadow of your former revolutionary self waiting to utter one embarrassing proclamation after another. It is spineless people like you that have made many South Africans give up on forming an alternative political party. Now your logic is of lower quality than young people who are leading parties such as the EFF and even the DA! You are supposed to be leading them to consolidate the opposition and create a credible alternative but instead you have become the comic relief for the legislature. Instead of a dignified elder with some wisdom to share, you are a laughing stock. You now want to teach my children to hate foreigners and see them as animals who must be confined to a zoo. How will you then teach them the African Renaissance, which you used to sing as minister of defence when you justified spending millions in peacekeeping missions across the continent? How will you teach them why you were part of a Cabinet that decided to host the Pan African Parliament with taxpayers’ money? Do you even apply your mind at all these days when you speak in public? When on earth are you retiring from politics while some of us still have a modicum of respect for you? Yours Frankly…..Onkgopotse. DM

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