One of my favorite possessions is a small book, no more than 15cm by 15cm, by Pieter Dirk Uys, titled “PW Botha: In His Own Words”. It is a great little compendium to much of the insanity Botha espoused. Mad and harrowing, you read it and your jaw drops.
The quotes it contains are profoundly revealing and, together, more profound and more revealing than any one quote on its own could ever be. Its pages reveal the grotesque personal nature of the NP’s more formal hate and prejudice.
The ANC has yet to stoop to the level the National Party did, at least morally, but you get the sense it is trying its hardest. Thus, it has over the past three decades produced a range of sentiments that leave you fairly gobsmacked on reflection.
Many of them made headlines at the time (who will forget Ndaweni Mahlangu’s 1999 claim that lying perfectly acceptable) others passed by without much attention, seemingly reasonable positions that time and decay have rendered somewhat hypocritical (Mandela, for example, once said, “There is no danger of us dispossessing people of property, no danger at all.”)
Many others are just run of the mill crazy (“HIV? It doesn’t exist”.)
It would be a mistake to write them all off as moments of madness. They are revealing and, when all brought together, they say much about the latent impulses that underpin so much sentiment in the ANC. Each quote is a small window into an often-hidden amoral universe.
There has been little attempt to document the ANC’s controversial opinions in any consolidated fashion. To try and bring all these ideas together I have created a new Twitter account - @quotesanc - which basically just lists controversial, conceited, confused, contradictory and convoluted quotes from members of the ANC, as well as friends and associates of the party.
If you would like to be informed, entertained and possibly horrified, give the account a follow by clicking here.
To give you a flavour of the kinds of sentiments it contains, here follow 50 controversial ANC quotes, all drawn from @quotesanc. There are hundreds more where these came from and many others already on @quotesanc
Give them a read. Some will shock more than others but really it is the combined effect that is telling: what kind of modern governing party behaves this way? There is an argument to be made that this is the real ANC or, at very least, the hidden ANC, constantly, or at least partially, kept in check by the democratic and constitutional constraints under which it operates.
Here, then, is the ANC: In its own words.
1. Aids? No such thing
“HIV? It doesn’t exist. The kind of stories that they tell that people are dying in droves… It’s not true. It’s not borne out by any facts." Peter Mokaba, 31 March 2002
2. A curious attitude to rape statistics
“We’ve been standing here for 26 seconds and nobody has been raped.” Steve Tshwete and Penuell Maduna, 2 February 2000 [Responding to the claim that one person is raped every 26 seconds in SA]
3. No soup for you!
“To all Africans, Coloureds and Indians who voted for the DA, be warned that there’s going to be consequences for not voting for the ANC. When it comes to service delivery, we will start with the people who voted for us and you will be last” S’bu Ndebele, 6 December 2000
4. Your wish is granted
“If Jacob Zuma is corrupt, then we want him with all his corruption. We want him with all his weaknesses. If he is uneducated, then we want him as our uneducated president.” Julius Malema, 21 February 2009
5. 200 years reduced to 10 months
“Look at the Great Wall of China. It was built in 10 months. It is the work ethic.” Gugile Nkwinti, 4 December 2015
6. Personal conscience our guide
“We give space to individual leaders to follow their conscience… the ANC only moves in when your own conscience does not guide you properly.” Kgalema Motlanthe, 28 February 2003
7. Great, because I don’t have one
"My conscience is clear.” Jacob Zuma, 7 April 2009
8. Say what now?
“When a cow gives birth to a fire, that cow will lick that fire. You know why? When a mother gives birth to a fire, she will lick that fire because she gave birth to that fire. When a fire burns, it rains and the earth gets wet.” Tina Joemat-Petterson, 24 February 2016
9. Nothing wrong with a bit of a fib
“[Lying] is nothing new. Many politicians publicly deny they did certain things but then later admit to them. It is accepted and is not unusual anywhere in the world... I personally don’t find it a very bad thing.” Ndaweni Mahlangu, 22 June 1999
10. 769,800 and 700, 769,820, and 70
“Our membership figures stood at seven-hundred and sixty-nine, eight-hundred and… seven-hundred… listen properly, seven-hundred and sixty-nine thousand, eight-hundred and twenty, and seventy members down from one-hundred, point two-million in 2012.” Jacob Zuma, 11 October 2015
11. Happy days, when we fought against increases, not for them
“The ANC is acutely aware of the serious economic crisis that faces SA. When [petrol] price increases are inevitable, every possible attempt should be made to prevent the poor - the majority - from having to carry an increasingly unbearable burden.” ANC statement, 10 October 1992
12. More curious statistical conclusions
“Is that realistic? I have more than three children at home, and yesterday not one was abused.” Charles Nqakula, 10 May 2002 [Questioning the figure that one in three children are abused daily in SA]
“I’m an intellectual strategist. No one can take that away from me except God. No one can stop me to go up and up because I have brain in me.” Hlaudi Motsoeneng, 12 December 2015
14. Ain’t no mountain high enough…
“In church they sing that they will follow Jesus wherever he goes. That’s how we should be about Jacob Zuma.” Ace Magashule, 19 January 2009
15. All promises are made to be broken
“There is no danger of us dispossessing people of property, no danger at all.” Nelson Mandela, 9 September 1993
16. There’s a hole in my head, dear Liza
“You and I might be the same age group, but you have never carried a water can on your head. I did… It was hurtful, I have a hole on my head here because I was carrying a water can and you were not.” Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, 30 May 2016
17. Some Shakespeare
“The eye of the storm rests pensively quiet, calm and almost tranquil, but it will stay its course and follow its trajectory leaving in its wake the ravages of time, and the milestones of history.” Marius Fransman, 2 March 2012
18. The people’s president
“If you don't vote, the boers will come back to control us.” Cyril Ramaphosa, 11 November 2013
19. A R250m holy space
“[Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla Report] then goes on to say a few things which, in our view, are actually debatable because in the African tradition you don't interfere with a man's kraal. The issue of a man's kraal or a kraal of a family is a holy space.” Baleka Mbete, 17 April 2014
20. Don’t dare try charge Zuma, we will have you
“Anybody who seeks to reopen [the NPA’s case against Zuma] will be viewed as public enemy number one, with little or no interest of the country at heart. Prosecutions head Mokotedi Mpshe must respect and agree with that judgment.” Julius Malema, 12 September 2008
21. Your guess is as good as mine
“The best soccer player win the match in the field, in the sports field. You cannot go to the sports field, play the game and decide to go and score goals outside the sports field, because you have got no one to play with.” Khehla Sitole, 23 November 2017
22. I just don’t keep those kinds of circles
“Personally, I don’t know anyone who has died of AIDS.” Thabo Mbeki, 25 September 2003 [Asked whether he knew of anyone with HIV, Mbeki responded: “I really, honestly don’t”.]
23. Victory is certain!
“It's crystal clear that we are taking this metro [Nelson Mandela Bay]. You saw the traditional leaders here praying. It means our ancestors are with us. It means that God and Jesus are with us. Then who can defeat us?” Jacob Zuma, 23 July 2016
24. The minister of police, being ministerial
Fikile Mbalula: "Let the criminals piss and drink their own urine… Do you hear me?"
FM: “What did I say?”
SAPS [In unison]: “Let the criminals piss and drink their own urine!”
FM: “Let the criminals piss and drink their own urine.”
Fikile Mbalula, 29 September 2017
25. We got this
“We’re probably the first government in the world to have taken corruption so seriously.” Jacob Zuma, 27 April 2003
26. White people hiding the truth
“White people's lies... [News]papers are the lies of a white man. We are not told the truth about Nkandla. It is being used as a political tool." Blade Nzimande, 12 April 2014
27. Evolution? Nonsense, you mean racism
“This thing is inconsistent with reality and supports the theory that we are subhuman. That's why Africans aren't respected by the rest of the world.” Mathole Motshekga, 11 September 2015 [On the discovery of Homo Naledi]
28. Long story short: we don’t care
“People can threaten us and say they won’t vote but the ANC doesn’t need their dirty votes.” Nomvula Mokonyane, 25 November 2013
29. Shakespeare: Part II
“Fuck-off Nkandla report, fuck-off. Fuck-off Madonsela, fuck-off.” National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members, 24 March 2014
30. Friends till the end
“The problem with you, [the media] is that you are waiting for one word – condemnation of Zimbabwe – you will never hear that. It is not going to happen as long as this government is in power.” Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 3 March 2003
31. The recipe for success
“I am taking the potjiekos that you have made, I have put the carrots aside now, I’m going to the potato.” Riah Phiyega, 15 June 2012 [In answer to the question: ‘Are you an ANC cadre?’]
32. No need to worry
“I am not certain about the ranking of SA in as far as crime is concerned... There are countries were children go to school by helicopters, because if they were to use cars, they would certainly be kidnapped. We have not reached that level yet." Jacob Zuma, 13 November 2002
33. An over-concentration of coloureds
“This over-concentration of coloureds in the WC is not working for them... They must stop this over-concentration situation because they are in over-supply where they are, so you must look into the country and see where you can meet the supply.” Jimmy Manyi, 24 February 2011
34. The up-side of Aids
“It [Aids] could be a God-given opportunity for moral and spiritual growth, a time to review our assumption about sin and morality.” Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, 31 March 2003
35. We also got Zuma’s back
“The NPA can only reinstate the charges over our dead bodies. The NPA has taken us for a ride for a long time. There will be blood in the courtroom if they reinstate the charges... [The NPA] has now gone on a fishing expedition regarding Zuma." Zet Luzipho, 20 February 2007
36. So you claim…
“We are not Zimbabwe. We believe in property rights.” Tito Mboweni, 22 August 2002
37. The constitution is safe with us!
“The ANC seeks no fundamental changes to the Constitution, precisely because our basic law reflects the value system espoused for decades by the masses and the struggle it led and leads.” Thabo Mbeki, 12 March 2004
38. You don’t need to be crazy to work here
“I’ve never been a police [officer], but I want to say that you don’t need to be a drunkard to own a bottle store.” Riah Phiyega, 14 June 2012
39. More promises…
“There is no need for the widespread concern that we have found from the farming community. They have nothing to fear. Restitution can be done without depriving people who already have property.” Nelson Mandela, 18 November 1994
40. Burn for your sins
“They must burn to death as it is life for them to keep it that way." Bongani Mkongi, 15 January 2017 [After calling on Facebook for a ‘Zuma must fall’ banner to be burnt, he was replying to the comment: ‘We can’t burn it down... people inside the apartments will burn to death.’]
41. Jacob Zuma is a real leader
“I don’t see President Zuma as being beleaguered. I see him as a very strong president. A president who has led from the front. What he has done that is most outstanding and prominent in my mind is delivering to the nation the NDP.” Cyril Ramaphosa, 22 December 2012
42. ANC first…
“I argued one time with someone who said the country comes first and I said as much as I understand that I think my organisation, the ANC, comes first.” Jacob Zuma, 7 November 2015
43. After seven years in charge, minister assesses her own performance
“We allow mediocrity to spread like cancer to the highest echelons of the basic education system, thereby threatening the very foundation of the system.” Angie Motshekga, 24 January 2016
44. The brutal truth about land reform
“Blaming the Constitution for the embarrassingly slow pace of land reform is both disingenuous and scapegoating. We failed, finish en klaar.” Jackson Mthembu, 3 March 2017
45. When assassinations become part of the game
“The reality of the matter is that to be elected as councillor today is life and death for a number of people.” Gwede Mantashe, 30 July 2016.
46. Hulk smash
“Same-sex marriage is a disgrace to the nation and to God. When I was growing up ‘ungqingili’ [homosexuals] could not stand in front of me, I would knock him out.” Jacob Zuma, 26 September 2006
“This thing of witchcraft is when a witch does nothing for the people but they still get re-elected. This is what we find ourselves in here in the Western Cape. We are being governed by witches.” Fikile Mbalula, 7 April 2014
48. The one about load-shedding being finished forever
“We are close to finish a year without load shedding, and I tell people that we are not going to have it any more. I wondered... am I telling the truth? Now I am going to tell people there will never be any load shedding, I have been here, I have seen it.” Jacob Zuma, 6 May 2016
49. The greatest
“Zuma may turn out to be one of the finest presidents this country has had.” Zweli Mkhize, 3 April 2009
50. Everything to do with Nkandla was above board, trust me
“There was no corruption, nothing to do with Nkandla was unlawful. The ‘fire pool’ is not even as big as an Olympic swimming pool.” Cyril Ramaphosa, 17 March 2014