By Ndiphiwe Mkuzo
Due to my own academic discipline in training and the overwhelming public interest in the SABC’s continuing saga, I’ve had to replay Prof Mbulaheni Maguvhe’s recent appearance before Parliament’s ad hoc committee into the fitness of the SABC board.
Irrespective of the man’s political affiliations and acquaintances, my revolutionary consciousness and Africanist politics found one peculiar inconsistency in how public opinion was thrown at unmoderated will by the media and the Democratic Alliance (DA) about the fitness of Maguvhe to head the troubled SABC board. I say this when forced by public opinion once again to look at the man as “forgetful, useless, nothing is ever brought to his attention” as many of my comrades have said, mocking this man at every turn.
For me however, these feelings do not suffice. I have weighed Maguvhe’s appearance against former president, Thabo Mbeki’s mediocre appearance before the arms deal commission on 17 July 2014. In his testimony, Mbeki was forgetful on every second question posed to him, even though the deal was one of the major national key points (army) about which he should have known every detail. President Mbeki put everything squarely on the shoulders of ministers who served under his administration at the time, relaying his faded memory on major questions put to him by the commission.
When asked whether or not he was made aware by the Scorpions Investigating Unit that an investigation was opened into the arms deal saga, he simply replied “I don’t remember”. This is exactly how Maguvhe responded to many of the questions put to him, with the overwhelming answer, “I was not aware”.
How Prof Maguvhe is treated by the South African media, which is a focal instrument which shapes public opinion, is nowhere close to how Mbeki was treated after his appearance. If anything, ululations of his mastery of responses and evasiveness were heard in every corner of South Africa’s most esteemed corridors of political artistry.
This begs the questions: what differences exist between the two protagonists of these very serious state processes? What has Prof Maguvhe done to earn the public humiliation so promptly spared to former president Thabo Mbeki? Is the media’s response fair to both these men? What makes Prof Maguvhe less intelligent or competent than Mbeki? Are there inconsistencies in blackness between the two men?
These questions haunt my conscience with absent answers. Perhaps those who know better can assist me.