By Thabi Myeni
When Advocate Thuli Madonsela is not in the media making sensational claims about state capture or googling motivational quotes for Twitter, she is on a ‘Make South Africa Great Again’ speaking expedition with mass murderer and apartheid president, FW de Klerk.
Social media was abuzz just recently when the FW de Klerk Foundation held tits annual summit. This year’s topic was ‘Corruption and State Capture’. Among their guest speakers were former finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, and the country’s most decorated advocate, Thuli Madonsela, who goes by Prof these days.
This combination comes as no surprise however as both Gordhan and Madonsela are haled as saints by the mainstream media and the general public. To no one’s surprise, the room was filled with white people who gave each black token speaker a standing ovation. According to reports, FW de Klerk had nothing but praise for the duo and lauded them as exceptional, going even further to liken them to Nelson Mandela.
It is disheartening to think that a black woman would actively participate in discussions to mask race and white privilege. Madonsela represents those that are solely invested in their own betterment and not the communities that made a way for them to hold the positions they’re in. The Madonsela that is adored by the public, is a brand, an invention, a fallacy, to mask corruption and systemic racial privilege.
Madonsela furthermore endorses the falacy of de Klerk being some kind of noble, peace-loving white saviour. She sat at his feet and listened as the apartheid president used state capture and (black) corruption to justify his racial privilege and absolve himself of atrocities he committed against black people. The use of the term “State Capture” by white supremacists, who form part of Madonsela’s support base, is a proxy for “see what happens when you put black people in government”. When in actual fact, the state has been captured for 400 years by the likes of de Klerk.
One of the arguments in support of Madonsela only focusing on black people’s activities is that, “corruption is corruption”. Uh…no. See, ‘corruption is corruption’ creates a false equivalency. We need to understand that as long as justice has never been served and black people remain dispossessed, corruption will always have a colour. Black corruption is small scaled. It is the result of being systematically deprived of economic participation, dispossessed, a birth-to-poverty pipeline and has no significant impact on the majority who remain landless and economically excluded. White corruption is the exact opposite however. It is entrenched in imperialist attitude and a 400 year head-start. White corruption is large scaled because of the economic range whites have, from price fixing to looting the reserve bank, land theft, monopolozing industries, to influencing markets to benefit themselves at the expense of the poor and disadvantaged. There is no equivalency.
The moment we choose to be colour-blind to corruption, we normalize economic racism, we normalize land dispossesion and we normalize the fact that white people continue to reap the benefits from atrocities committed against black people between 1652 and 2018.
Madonsela sat on top of white monopoly capital corruption cases that were brought to her. White monopoly capital consists of a group of wealthy white families and businessmen in South Africa. These capitalists dominate and control every single industry in South Africa. Cases that have now seen current public protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, being vilified for, for stepping outside of her assumed role as a black person who must kneel before these white supremacists. When Advocate Mkhwebane started investigating white monopoly capital, the media began their smear campaign, calling her a Zuma-sympathiser, questioning the validity of her qualifications and scrutinizing her every move. The courts were weaponized against her by large corporations like ABSA for simply doing her job. Through all Mkhwebane’s investigations, it is clear that her path and investment in protecting the public, mostly the black majority, is starkly different from Madonsela’s.
See, Madonsela’s state capture was devoid of truth. It represented a disingenuous picture of our government where President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family are the sole determinant of poverty and black suffering. It created a narrative that somehow, had he not spent more on his Nkandla estate, there would be significant change for dispossessed black people. Black people who live in a country where the land and economy is 80-90% white-owned. A country where even basic natural resources like water don’t belong to the government but to the pale individuals Madonsela seemed to protect.
Also, Madonsela’s availability to white supremacists like Johann Rupert (her current boss) and the Stellenbosch mafia, can be attributed to a few things, one of those being internalized racism. A phenomenon that sees Black people like Madonsela adopting the values of the superior race and white supremacists like de Klerk. While Madonsela’s numerous accolades would make her an apt role model for black women in particular, her problematic attitudes towards dispossession and her denial of white domination and imperialism in this country disqualify her indefinitely.
There are numerous instances where Madonsela turned her back on the community, from posting selfies with the living apartheid president, to sitting on top of the CIEX investigation and her objection for expanded terms of reference into state capture. At one point, Madonsela was accused of amending her report on a multi-million rand tender that was put out by the Democratic Alliance (DA) government in the Western Cape. In her draft report, the former public protector found that the inclusion of Ryan Coetzee and Gavin Davis (special advisers to wrinkled mushroom, Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille) on the tender bid evaluation committee was unlawful and in violation of the Constitution but she quickly retracted on that after a meeting with the DA.
Madonsela must remind us of the perils of colonial education. If one is educated yet detached from historical reality, they amount to being a black token and are easily taken advantage of by the people who gave them their education. A black token is someone that will seem militant about ending black suffering but consult with white supremacy about the parameters of their activism. So now she wakes up in Stellenbosch to reap the benefits of the white establishment that rewards silence on white domination.