Editor's note: Julius Malema recently dropped the bombshell that ANC MPs had met with the EFF in 2017 to discuss a no confidence vote in Jacob Zuma. Many South Africans were shocked by the revelation - despite it being widely-reported at the time. Benjamin Fogel argues that South Africa is gripped by political amnesia.
"Political amnesia: A virus that causes those infected to forget political history — even if it the events occurred only months before. In South Africa the signs of this virus are everywhere in the political debate —flagrant criminality, flip-flops, venality, rank opportunism and assorted skulduggery disappear from the memories of the infected. The plague is so widespread right now that politicians base their moves on the assumption that their supporters simply won’t remember.
"In South Africa, political wrongdoers depend on public amnesia — they need only hide themselves from the public eye for a sufficient amount of time before returning to public life as if they had done nothing wrong."
"For instance, Julius Malema dropped the bombshell on the South African public that ANC MPs had actively tried to remove former president Jacob Zuma and in the process the likes of national executive committee member Derek Hanekom had met with the fighter leadership to plan a vote of no-confidence.
"Those not infected by political amnesia will remember that this was widely reported at the time and it was no secret that a large part of the ANC wanted Zuma out in 2017. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is now threatening to leak the names of 60 other MPs who dared to stand up to Zuma. I suspect the majority of South Africans would rather buy these MPs a Bells rather than call for the ANC to punish the miscreants."
"Another recent example took place when Zuma testified — if it could be called that— at the Zondo Commission. Before skillfully avoiding questions about state capture, he used the platform to repeat the same vague conspiracy theories he has been advancing for years about unnamed intelligence agencies and apartheid spies working for decades to undermine him.
"Zuma has perhaps the strongest case of political amnesia ever diagnosed: he can remember the colour of the shirt of the guy hugging the other guy in the 1980s, which apparently is some sort of secret spy signal, but nothing about his time as president. He did not remember that several of the Cabinet ministers he himself appointed were apartheid spies until after he left office. It was enough for many to forget what the original matter at hand was, namely, state capture and Zuma’s own guiding role in it."
Read the rest at the Mail & Guardian.
Benjamin Fogel is a contributing editor for Jacobin magazine.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Briefly.co.za.
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