By Pinky Khoabane
HISTORY has many stories of treachery. Nothing much has changed in political backstabbing since the Ides of March in 44 BC when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by a group of Roman Senators. Even the bible has stories of betrayal by close associates. Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver by identifying him with a kiss – the “kiss of Judas” – to soldiers who then arrested him and turned him over to Pontius Pilates’ soldiers.
Closer to home, one councillor of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Mogale City recently betrayed the party and voted with the African National Congress (ANC) in toppling DA mayor Michael Holenstein. It wasn’t long thereafter that Economic Freedom Frighters (EFF) councillors defied the party and voted with the ANC in a budget vote. There are mentions of several ANC members of parliament (MPs) who have publicly declared they will be defying their party in a motion of no confidence vote against President Jacob Zuma. To be fair to the ANC MPs though, they are front stabbers – the type that tell you upfront they will betray you.
Nowadays there are large sums of money to add to the political intrigue. You need go no further than the ANC’s presidential contestation this year to see this phenomenon in action. Comrades are wielding their knives as presidential hopefuls campaign for votes to lead the party in December.
Two weeks ago Comrades gathered at another’s home to celebrate a birthday party. Like many celebrations held by Comrades these days – under the guise of many “legitimate” reasons – birthday parties, child’s first birthday, baby shower and so on – this one was in anticipation of the arrival of an ANC presidential hopeful who would allegedly deliver his loot to buy votes for the upcoming ANC national electoral conference.
This group was said to be supporters of the Second in Command but they were willing to use the host’s birthday party to fleece money off another presidential hopeful – a former premier, who it was said eventually showed up at the party. Let’s just call him Mr Money Bags for now.
His money, if he paid it over, would not only fund the birthday party but would serve other future interests and deliver that important vote for the next ANC President. Unbeknown to Mr Money Bags, his money would help secure votes for his opponent.
Votes on Sale
Stories of Comrades being given money to influence the outcome of elections – even as early as at zonal level – are rife. One hears of political leaders who publicly declare allegiance with one faction but by night go and pick up money at the leadership of the opposing faction in return for votes. There’s a dangerous term in ANC corridors, “ke batho ba rona” – our people – these are the voting fodder which those in leadership positions use to batter for positions: “You give me the numbers now, for a position at zonal level and I will ensure you get a position at regional level”. These are the kind of deals being made, central to which is money.
Who will benefit most from the money in circulation?
The flow of money in politics is not unique to the ANC or this country. It is a global phenomenon which wealthy capitalists and corporations use to influence political outcomes.
One of the vicious battles pursued by wealthy capitalists and white monopoly capitalists in the past year or two has been to ensure the closure of sources of money which might influence the outcome of the ANC presidential battle.
It is highly problematic for the majority of citizens when elections are financed by a few. It means the candidate whose campaign has been financed by these big corporations will have to protect the privileges and interests of this small group of people.
As the battle for the next ANC’s president heats up, we must ask ourselves this question: Who of the ANC presidential candidates stands to benefit more from the flow of money currently in the electoral system and who will be the ultimate beneficiaries – the capitalists and wealthy corporations or the ANC faithful and the larger public.