SA Opposition Parties Resurrect A Century-Old Ghost Of Fascism

8 October 2022

Opinion by: Mr Seiso Mohai, MP 

When historians write about parliament’s third term of 2022, they will most likely remark about the attempt by minority opposition political parties with less than a third of seats in the national assembly to dominate the house through coercion and bullying. The events of this term have a historical ring to them.

The fascists started in Italy in the 1920s as a minority political party who recruited violent thugs who wore black shirts to throw out elected councillors of the social democratic and communist parties. In 1922, fascist leader Benito Mussolini marched into Rome with tens of thousands of Blackshirts and demanded to be made the prime minister.  Out of fear, the Italian king gave in and, at 39, Mussolini became Italy’s youngest prime minister.

In May 1928, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party received only 2.6 percent of the national vote in Germany. Economic misery caused by the early 1930s Great Depression and Hitler’s persuasive rhetoric propelled the Nazis to 46.5 percent, making them the biggest party in the Reichstag by 1933.

Millions of brown-shirted Nazis unleashed a reign of terror against opposition parties, Jews, social democrats, communists, artists, journalists, and anyone who dared to oppose them. The belligerent alliance of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany led to the unprecedented bloodshed of the Second World War.

Millions of South Africans and the world are going through hard economic times. History warns that in times like these, totalitarian and violent dictators emerge with militant words and grandiose claims about their unique abilities to solve all national problems with their untested ideas.

The attacks on democracy by some of the South African opposition parties, with the uncritical complicity of some in the media, I might add, have been concentrated on the head of state, President Cyril Ramaphosa. By disrupting NA sittings ostensibly to force the president to account on a matter still under investigation by other state agencies, opposition parties have taken a leaf out of Mussolini and Hitler’s playbook. They use the most vulgar language, threats and actual violence to drown out the voices of the elected representatives of the majority party and abuse opposition party leaders who disagree with them. Yet, two of the leading opposition parties have in their ranks public representatives with serious allegations of fraud and money laundering. The ANC allows these characters to participate in parliamentary proceedings unhindered because we respect the democratic rights of their constituencies to be represented by them.

When the Speaker calls upon the Parliamentary Protection Services to restore order, the same politicians project themselves as victims of unfair rulings by the Speaker. The ANC caucus and presiding officers in parliament are often projected as lackeys of the Executive by the media, who repeat the talking points of the opposition and the self-styled “political analysts.” The reality, however, is different. In the seven weeks of the third term, parliament had a week-long capacity-building course for MPs. It hosted successful question and answer sessions for the President, Deputy President, and all the ministers in the NA and NCOP, adopting many committee reports and legislation. The NCOP held a successful local government week which discussed solutions to the multiple challenges facing our municipalities.

In the NA, we dealt with pressing matters like fuel prices and criminal vandalization of public infrastructure. We passed consequential legislation, including the Children’s Amendment Bill, Traditional Courts Bill, and the Expropriation Bill. Incidentally, the vote on the Expropriation Bill exposed the duplicity of the EFF. This party in the townships claims to be against white privilege. Yet, in the halls of parliament, it votes to maintain apartheid economic ownership patterns by supporting the unabashed defenders of white privilege – the racist DA and FF Plus.

Few of these stories of the tremendous success of the third term of parliament grabbed the national headlines. They did not trend on social media either. Well, I guess the results of our hard work in parliament are not as interesting as the story about the Phala-Phala game farm. But, as the ANC Caucus, we are proud that we have steered parliament to remain focused on things that matter to the overwhelming majority of South Africans. We can only hope that patriotic journalists will start reporting the progress we are making to transform South Africa, at least in equal measure to the trivial stories.

 

Issued by the Chairperson of the ANC National Parliamentary Caucus, Cde Seiso Mohai