Jimmy Manyi. Picture: GCIS
Jimmy Manyi. Picture: GCIS

The days of fact-based debate in South Africa are over. A dirty propaganda war — where truth doesn't matter, where reputations are routinely torn to shreds through innuendo — has been joined.

This dirty war is most obvious in social media where it is led by a group of faux Black Consciousness activists built around Mzwanele Jimmy Manyi and others. They use Twitter and other social media to champion the cause of the Gupta family, to deflect from whatever this family may be accused of and to paint anyone who has ever raised a voice against their capture of President Jacob Zuma as being a pawn of a bogus grouping called White Monopoly Capital.

This group thrives on conspiracy theories, on throwing mud without any evidence. Truth does not matter to them. Their motto is simple: Paint anyone who has taken on the Guptas in the worst possible light.

Someone has created hundreds of fake Twitter accounts, all of them deployed to cast aspersions on those who have taken them on. At the weekend this nasty gang created fake Twitter accounts that looked remarkably like those of the new international website The Huffington Post in SA and a fake Talk Radio 702 account.

They created fake tweets about veteran editor Peter Bruce (in which he allegedly claimed that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was a tool of this bogus WMC) and another in which this grouping put up a disgusting, badly-Photoshopped picture of a woman sitting on a man‘s lap. The face on the woman was that of award-winning editor Ferial Haffajee and the man was Johann Rupert.

There are many others in a similar vein: all of them sexist, racist and without a grain of truth. It all points to attempts to deflect us from one truth: Zuma, the president of the ANC, has handed over running of this country to the Gupta family. Here is how it works.

Two weeks ago the Mail & Guardian newspaper published details of a leaked version of the public protector's preliminary report into the apartheid-era Reserve Bank loans to Bankorp, which later became Absa. It was a great story. Ironically, it was splashed on the front page of a newspaper which has been branded a CIA front by many who belong to the conspiracy grouping.

They seized on this story like a hungry pit bull terrier.

On Twitter they alleged that journalists such as Bruce and others were ignoring the story at the behest of Rupert. Evidence? None.
Instead, they claimed credit for the story — that it was because of the one-member Black First Land First organisation that the story had been exposed. That's totally untrue: it was through the work of Paul Hoffman, journalist Sylvia Vollenhoven and Noseweek that this had actually made its way to the public protector.

Truth does not matter to this lot, though. Throughout the week the fake tweets, the fake pictures and the fake narrative continued.

Make your way to the Saxonwold shebeen and you will know who is funding this. It is the same people who have been roundly exposed as being the manipulators of Des van Rooyen, the man who visited Saxonwold 12 times in the run-up to his appointment as finance minister.

Why is this happening, why the lies and the propaganda?

It's called a red herring — an attempt to divert attention away from the real scandal to a manufactured outrage. The real scandal is a man who has taken a 105-year-old glorious movement and given it to the Gupta family, along the way making them and his family billionaires, while our people live in squalor in townships. So instead of dealing with the problem one creates a diversion: the Ruperts, the CIA, the Americans — anyone and anything will do.

Another tactic employed is to cast doubt on the credibility of the bearer of the news. South Africa‘s investigative journalists are under immense pressure and this gang has gone out of its way to paint them as tools of the West or as being in the pockets of certain rich white families.

The truth, though, is obvious to many of us — trying to besmirch a Peter Bruce or a Ferial Haffajee will not make the public protector‘s state capture report go away.

It will not make journalists stop digging and exposing. It will not make the brave former MP Vytjie Mentor go away. It will not make deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas and the courageous former civil servant Themba Maseko go away — they all exposed the rot at the heart of the Zuma administration. The emperor is naked and no amount of ad hominem attacks, no amount of diversionary tactics, will cover him.

Zuma has been president of South Africa since 2009. He has failed to grow the economy, to create jobs, to accelerate transformation or to improve education. He is a corrupt failure.

The Absa/Bankorp lifeboat, as both the Davis Panel and the Special Investigating Unit found way back in the late 1990s and 2000s, was illicit and immoral. Zuma has been in power for eight years and has done nothing about it. The best he and his cronies in the dirty propaganda war can do is point fingers at “White Monopoly Capital” instead of acting.

That's because they have absolutely no interest in doing the right thing. It is all sound and fury, signifying nothing but the attempt to whitewash a dirty administration and a dirty president.

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