By Ncedisa Mpemnyama
The war has begun and all are called to take sides. The war is between white monopoly capital versus those who are resisting it. On the one hand you have a faction inside the African National Congress (ANC) led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and his lieutenant, former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, while on the other hand you have President Jacob Zuma who recently has been a victim of calls from his enemies for him to step down owing to some badly explained corruption and Gupta-capture that only adolescents would take seriously.
In recent times, the war has implicated Black First Land First (BLF) owing to its rightful endorsement of President Zuma’s position on land return without money being payed. First, Sunday Times made feeble claims that BLF President Andile Mngxitama and the black socialist movement he leads are on the pay roll of British public relations company, Bell Pottinger. What these sensational claims failed to show was that Bell Pottinger used to do PR work for Johann Rupert. Why was the PR firm saintly when it worked for Rupert and then developed devil horns when it worked for the Guptas?
The claims were spurious to say the least without any journalistic ethical base – just plain old cynical sensationalism.
Yesterday, as the day reached its end, we were once again assaulted by other “corruption revelations” from TimesLive – the online version of Sunday Times. Earlier on in the week the same newspaper had run a similar story on the Zuma family contemplating a move to Dubai, and from that, clumsily trying to find a corrupt link. Part of the story hinged on a strong pronouncement of corruption as a result of the Zuma family links with United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its political leadership. The explicit message is that Zuma, like Idi Amin Dada after ravaging Uganda, is running to some “Islamic” state to avoiding accounting for his “corruption”. The other message is that any African who is not genuflecting to the London and Washington agenda is a dictactor or on the way to being one. All these “revelations” are highly peppered with emotionally charged moralism devoid of fact and supporting evidence which convinces one of the basic accusations.
The same model is used on a story accusing the BLF President of soliciting funds from the Gupta family. The emails make a basic claim that Mngxitama had meetings with Gupta associates, lobbying them to get funds from the Gupta family.
All these media shenanigans have gotten me interested in an intellectual I had long forgotten, i.e. Noam Chomsky. Taking inspiration from the renowned American writer and journalist Walter Lipman, Chomsky revived the debate on the usage of indoctrination to “manufacture consent” in order create a scared “bewildered herd” or confused masses, using the media as a tool of this evil process. In the book Media Control, Chomsky warns that the media creates an unthinking population to distract them from taking power. He says the media thinks like this:
“the bewildered herd is a problem. We have got to prevent their roar and trampling. We have got to distract them. They should be watching the Superbowl or sitcoms or violent movies. Every once in a while you call on them to chant meaningless slogans like “support our troops.” You’ve got to keep them pretty scared, because unless they are properly scared and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think, which is very dangerous, because they are not competent to think. Therefore it is important to distract them and marginalise them.”
On the other hand, Malcolm X, exploding from the black ghetto that Chomsky could only pontificate about, had this to say about propaganda in the empire of America:
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make innocent guilty and make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses”. Brother Malcolm goes further to buttress his point some more when he says, “If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
The Gupta and Zuma spectacle speaks to this issue. The poverty stricken masses of this country are being misled by a concerted media ploy to keep them obsessed with side issues while the most important issue of landlessness is ignored and erased from public memory. Anyone who has a divergent view from the “Zupta” corruption story is demonised and by extension portrayed as an unthinking lackey of the Guptas while the very constructors of the narrative are funded and bought by old white money i.e Oppenheimers and the Rupert family.
The line of argument that is never entertained which I would like to open up is whether there’s anything wrong with taking money from the Guptas? If from our perspective the Guptas are competing for ownership of the market monopolised by whites, why should we fellow blacks not take money from them and fund our resistance? Pushers of the anti-Gupta banal corruption narrative fail to see a glaringly obvious fact – that all these monies are ours anyway!! Whether it’s Gupta money or Rupert money or even the infamous Bell Pottinger! All of it is from black blood, sweat and tears through the process of slavery, colonialism and apartheid – especially in the case of Rupert and Bell Pottinger.
This Mngxitama cacophony also raises other questions that relate to the Zuma Dubai story too. The question is how did these media houses get hold of people’s private email interactions? Is that even legal? Are we being monitored all this time and what does the much valorised constitution say about that? Who monitors those who monitor others? In the media war currently going on it seems truth is a prop that isn’t or shouldn’t be a central feature. What matters is who lies the most to the scared “bewildered herd” to support them to facilitate further looting without land return after Zuma goes.
These attacks on an unsuspecting public, propped up by moralist anti-corruption fulminations from disgraced newsrooms doing the bidding for a sophisticated regime change agenda are nothing. In recent times we have seen with recent ombudsman verdicts when media houses had to apologise (though the damage was already done) for soiling the names of Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, Professor Chris Malikane, the Guptas and even Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. They have also gone arbitrarily for Brian Molefe, projecting him as corrupt and untrusworthy while they heap praise on Pravin Gordhan who has a treasury scandal on his shoulders, among many others still unresolved.
From this situation one is forced to see the truth for what it is. We are in a war here. We are in war like Jan Van Riebeek has just landed. At the centre of the war is the mind. Was it not Steve Biko who warned us about colonisation as process of mind “capture” for white washing. Didnt Biko, the doyen of Black Consciousness thought in Africa, not warn us that “the most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”. All these email revelations speak to this adage. The war on the mind has not ceased, it has mutate in this age of social media wherein lies can be peddled unashamedly to misdirect and use genuine cries of the masses for a narrow imperialist white supremacist deepening of the status quo.
Frantz Fanon once said, “O my body, make of me always a man who questions!” It seems we have forgotten or are on a path to bash ourselves into a stupor of forgetfulness and lack of thought and question. That is bad for the future of us black people if we are to make any inroads towards freedom through land resitution.
Ncedisa Mpemnyama is the Western Cape Convenor of Black First Land First (BLF)