Cope – going, going …..

Alan Boesak , the cleric and pardoned fraudster, resigned from Cope and the Western Cape provincial legislature today.

The once hopeful potential opposition to the ANC seems to be in a terminal state of decline, with several key leadership figures having resigned over the last few months.

Boesak was always going to be a problem for Cope and his action today proves the point of those who criticised Cope for appointing him in the first place.

It’s a pity, because the formation of Cope spurred the ANC  out of complacency in the lead up to the April election and can take some of the credit for the ANC attempting to “go back to its knitting” as far as its constituency is concerned.

This slide was part of a briefing I did for investor clients in the lead up to the general election on April 22 2009.

Can’t Cope

3 thoughts on “Cope – going, going …..

  1. When I worked at a large business and was charged with creating space and opportunity for employees and management to have the sorts of discussions that lead to mutual understanding and acceptance, I devised a series of visits and talks by interesting people. We had a Prof from UNISA who spoke about changing identities and how those impacted the workplace. We had Denis Beckett giving some thoughts about the SA he saw. We incorporated township visits and we arranged breakfasts between staff and executives where transformation was discussed.

    At the talks, we averaged about 30 people.

    Then I decided to invite Allan Boesak, to talk about his book. Believe me, within minutes of announcing him as a guest, I had received over 100 bookings for seats, and 100 denouncing him as a thief and crook. But here’s the curious thing, and I know this because it was so striking, all the denouncers were white with a few “coloureds” thrown in. All the bookings were from black staff, with a few “coloureds” thrown in.

    The din in the organisation reached such a pitch that I was asked by the MD to cancel, which I did” 100+ black staff denounced thre action as shortsighted, a typicaly white action, and as demonstrative that the status quo will remain because white management and staff were not prepared to meet with the people’s leaders; 100+ white staff clapped hands and asked what I was thinking in the first place.

    A few days later, I penned a short piece to all management outlining what the incident has shown: we were clearly polarised and needed to be able to discuss the matter without demonising anyone. I remember two responses: one said in very reasonable tones that as a financial organisation we should not be seen to be embracing corruption and those implicated, like Greg Blank and Allan Boesak; another asked why, if corruption was to be avoided, were posters of Hansie Cronje still plastered against the walls of offices of the business in predominantly white areas.

    Now, years later, I think about that and how self righteousness can blind people: how that organisation can tolerate hypocrisy as was pointed out, how they can ignore their own past as an organisation that made hay when apartheid was thriving, and one that constantly made the right noises, but when the opportunity to be truly transformative arrived, went weak at the knees. What did it matter to them that the church had accepted the man back in forgiveness, that the President has pardoned him, and that he was living a pretty busy life leacturing at several theology institutions who chose forgiveness over, well, whatever it is that keeps people stigmatising others; he was what he was, and that’s what he will stay. And them? Us, who live in glass houses?

    Interestingly, I had invited Boesak to talk about his book, which had as its main theme, forgiveness and how it had resurrected him. Funny that: no one wanted to hear about forgiveness and reconcilitiation, from someone with a story to tell. And now we find ourselves, by very many studies, to be as remote from each other as ever we were, It would have been a beginning.

  2. Hi Mark – I love your comment: “But here’s the curious thing, and I know this because it was so striking, all the denouncers were white with a few “coloureds” thrown in. All the bookings were from black staff, with a few “coloureds” thrown in” really fascinating. I know exactly why you got that response but for the life of me I would be unable to explain what it is I understand. It is a profoundly South African realisation and insight.

    Talking of the racial prism, here’s something I saw this morning that is quite brilliant about race/skin colour:

    “Skin is rubbish. What is skin anyway? Just a stretchy bag for keeping yourself in. A badly designed bag at that: it gets torn too easily and breaks out in pimples at inopportune moments. The one good thing about skin is that it’s available in different colours – and even that’s a disadvantage, because a) you can’t choose the colour yourself yet b) people judge you by it anyway, as though skin is directly attached to your soul by tiny cables and functions as a handy visual indicator of your overall human worth.

    I bet I judge people by their skin tone all the time. It’s hard not to. I grew up in a village the size of a shallot. Virtually the only black or brown faces I encountered on a regular basis were on TV, where they were portrayed as villains, heavily-accented jokes, or – occasionally – patronised as put-upon saints. I thought none of this had affected me, but it burrows in there, even if you’re not aware at the time. When I moved to London as a student and found myself surrounded by every race imaginable, I’d often be surprised by the dumbest things, like the black girl I knew who was hugely into indie music. A little voice in my brain kept squeaking that she should be into rap or dance music really. You know: anything with drums. Without realising it, I’d been programmed to expect her to behave according to a bewilderingly narrow set of parameters.

    Still, even if I couldn’t stop thoughts like that from springing up, I’d at least notice their absurdity. Trouble is, being a bleeding-heart liberal wuss, it’s easy to “over-steer” and wind up being patronising. Sit me in a room full of black people and – initially at least – I’ll be consciously scanning my every utterance, painfully wary of causing offence, paradoxically keen to prove how utterly blind to skin tone I am. End result: a slightly forced joviality, like meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time.

    Would I be similarly anxious if the room was full of fat people, or dwarves, or people in wheelchairs? To some degree. But people with blue eyes? Wouldn’t bother me at all. Wouldn’t even notice. I rarely look people in the eye anyway. I’m far too busy staring at my own feet, trying not to cry.”

    Its from here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2009/oct/24/charlie-brooker-screen-burn

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