Unravelling of a nationalist party

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
December 12, 2022

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeThe advent of nationalist parties in developing countries in the late 19th and 20th centuries demonstrated the desires of the struggling masses that yearned to control their own affairs and to develop their nations. In this context, the goals of the People’s National Movement (the word “national” is important) were no different from those of the Indian National Congress in India, the African National Congress in South Africa, and the People’s National Party in Jamaica. These parties were all steeled by the impetus to empower the struggling masses and to democratise a system ruled by colonial powers.

At its beginning, these parties were led by men and women who had the best interests of their people at heart—their leaders found enormous satisfaction in devoting their lives to benefit their people. Several illustrious leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru of India; Nelson Mandela of South Africa, and Eric Williams of T&T emerged during that glorious period. No sooner had these nationalist leaders left the scene than a band of weaker leaders emerged to take their place.

One example would suffice. The ANC, the oldest liberation movement in Africa, was founded in 1912. When the ruling party of South Africa adopted a formal policy of apartheid in 1952, the ranks of the ANC swelled to oppose those laws. Nelson Mandela, the freedom fighter who embraced his enemies, emerged from this patriotic ferment and led his people to freedom and the abolishment of apartheid in 1994.

When Mandela resigned the presidency in 2004, he wanted Cyril Ramaphosa, his close aide and chief negotiator of the apartheid talks, to succeed him but the party elected Thabo Mbeki instead. Mbeki was followed by Jacob Zuma, whose scandal-filled regime brought shame to the ideals of its ANC founders. Ramaphosa got his chance in 2018 to serve as president. He didn’t do as well.

After Ramaphosa was bypassed for the presidency in 2004, he devoted himself to business. By 2015 his net worth was $450 million, making him one of the richest people in Africa. This was quite a rise for a man who was born in Soweto Township, one of the poorest areas in South Africa.

When he announced his run for the presidency in 2018, he declared he wanted the party to revert “to the values that were espoused and subscribed to by Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, and many other leaders” and to tackle “the roots of this corruption” that had infected the ANC leadership that was running the country.

However, prior to his becoming president of South Africa, Ramaphosa displayed his own despicable betrayal of the people who had made him wealthy. In 2012, he was implicated in the shooting deaths of mine workers at the platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa. Forty-seven people were killed, including 34 miners, while 78 other people were injured.

At the time of the shootings, Ramaphosa, a former mineworkers’ union leader, sat on the executive board of the London-based Lonmin, “the company that operated the mine at Marikana” (CNN World, February 1, 2018). Although many of these mine workers were members of the ANC, it did not prevent Ramaphosa from urging “government ministers to come down hard on the ‘criminal’ workers” (London Guardian, August 15, 2014).

But character is destiny. Six months ago Ramaphosa said the sum of US$580,000 was stolen from a sofa at his private game reserve in Phala Phala, although his accusers believe the true amount was about US$4 million. Ramaphosa says the money came from the sale of buffalo to a Sudanese businessman even though no buffalo ever left his property.

An independent panel led by a former South African chief justice Sandile Ngcobo released a report that found Ramaphosa might have committed serious misconduct in not reporting a US$4 million theft from his private farm. In an effort to save Ramaphosa from impeachment, ANC’s National Executive Committee threw its weight behind its leader while Ramaphosa “asked the country’s highest court to dismiss a damning report accusing him of abuse of power” (Financial Times, December 6).

The ANC will hold its leadership vote on Friday. Ramaphosa is expected to win the leadership contest in spite of his apparent flaunting of the nation’s law and the killing, in cold blood, of the members who supported his party in the first place. However, his reputation as an anti-corruption crusader has certainly been damaged. One wonders how he views the struggling masses who support him.

ANC’s main trade union alliance partner, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which supported Ramaphosa’s bid to unseat Zuma in 2016, said it will not support Ramaphosa’s election bid. KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Secretary Edwin Mkhize said “he didn’t think the labour federation would endorse any candidate since all candidates that COSATU supported ended up disappointing them and left workers divided” (South Africa Daily News, November 30).

Today, unemployment is sky-high in South Africa while “the demand for South African assets collapsed on Thursday (December 1), with the rand sliding and the yield on government bonds soaring… The prognosis isn’t unreservedly gloomy… It’s a good thing that South Africa’s political system, for all its flaws, allows for a leader to be removed for misdeeds” (Washington Post, December 2).

Last Sunday our nationalist party held its party election. Despite the tremendous problems that plague our country, they re-elected the same tired leaders. As the liquor flowed and the populist rhetoric soared, the opulence of the moneyed interests in the party revealed itself. One wonders where the little man stood in all of this. Or is it that nationalism has taken a backseat to careerists, special-interest groups and plutocrats?

12 thoughts on “Unravelling of a nationalist party”

  1. I believe if the PNM focused on helping ordinary people to start and grow their own businesses, T&T would have less crime and would be a true middle class and a more cohesive society. There seems to be a failure of imagination and an unwillingness to tap into talent in the diaspora.

  2. The sad reality is the ANC has been hijacked by Ramaphosa. The dream of a better South Africa has been lost over time because of ego centric leaders. The cult of leadership like an octopus stretches its tentacles far and wide into everything that is good turning it into bad.

    South Africa have the potential for greatness but has slowly lost its way. SA have some of the highest murder rate in the world. In the US it is about 8:100,000, in SA 33:100,000, in Trinidad 28:100,000. Rape reached an all time high against children during the AIDS epidemic because the j*ck*ses believed that sex with children will cure the disease.

    The Indian population mainly in Durban SA came under attack with their business pillaged by gangs of marauding black folks having a Shaka moment. Ramaphosa ignored the cries of the Indo population to bring in the army to protect businesses and citizens . Many of his supporters were from Durban, however for him it did not matter.

    Indians in Fiji, Trinidad, Guyana, South Africa and eastern African nations have suffered much under black rule. In Fiji the suicide rate amongst Indians was very high during early indentureship. They were forbidden to own lands. Chaudhry sought to change the law and was held captive for 56 days. Today the attack on Indians continue (ad nauseum). About the same time Chaudhry was going through his pain Panday was subjected to a similar arrangement when he wanted to bring in people with talent through the senate into ministerial positions. Robbie thought it was wrong (too many) Panday had the constitution on his side. But 56 days later Robbie relented and allow Panday to follow the law.

    Guyana saw over 300,000 Indo Guyanese fleeing under Burnham rule. His General Granger attempted to steal the last election, but foreign observers stop his craftiness. Mia Mottley emerged as the shining star in Guyana democracy with Donald Trump threatening to freeze Guyanese accounts. Granger suddenly awoke and decided to relent.

    Indo Trinis in Trinidad has suffered under PNM rule as they continue to mismanage the economy. Like highway robbers Rowley and his gang is planning a slu of increase tax measures mainly targeting Indian businesses and homes. Something call property tax, all the big houses Indians built is now a tax bonanza for the balisier brigade. NHA is not going to pay property tax being a government entity.

    What can good honest hard working citizens expect under the Rowley regime—-more taxes…and potholes alone with a vision less future.

    1. Mamoo I was following you until you started making out East Indians as victims of the government and insinuating that it’s a racial thing.
      If it’s a racial thing then it an attack on the Africans more so, you are making it out as though Indians are the only ones who will be called on to pay taxes and as though Africans in this country are only living in HDC homes.
      I notice you purposely put out NHA and not HDC, I see you Mamoo.
      I am from the country side and we have been living on our own land and many Africans around me have been doing so for for a long time and contributing to the development of this country and also paying our taxes.
      What I see is all the major contracts going to Indian contractors and they are raking in millions under this PNM government.
      As they did under the UNC so pass me with this crap about Indians being victims.
      In you were serious about what Professor was talking about you would have highlighted the inequality in the distribution of the resources across the board.
      But you choose to use examples of Indians being victimized on purpose ..I see you Mamoo.

      1. Mr Paul, I applaud you and the rest of our African brothers in places like Moruga, Lengua Village, Princes Town, Sangre Grande, Santa Flora and other small villages throughout the country who work the land and appreciate the value honest work. You and your families are part of the solution to situation the country is in and our path to a more secure and prosperous
        Sorry Mamoo, the Indian/Coolie crabs in a barrel, some of whom you may know by name have colluded with the PNM since Independence to bring the country to the current state of affairs.
        Let us not make this into a race thing as citizens we are all equally responsible for making our country a better place.

      2. I appreciate your point of view and I stand corrected. Yes we all have to bear the burden and I admit that at times I follow an extremist line.. but the house is burning and we could be better to each other. I will temper my views, as there are good people who make the world a better place to live.

        The other points are factual and it is not written out of animosity. It is true that Ramaphosa did not send in the military to protect Indian businesses. It true that Burnham pursued an anti Indian policy. I have met many Indo Guyanese who tell some horror stories, unspeakable, but I suppose that was a past generation, yet the effects remain. It is true that Amin said Africa is for Africans black Africans and gave Indians 60 days to leave. I don’t know why some black folks hate us so much. Indians have done more to improve the lives of black folks here and elsewhere. In Uganda they invited them back, because they created jobs and helped the citizens… I don’t feel hatred towards our black brethren. I am happy when all rise with the tide of brotherhood.

        Why the Minister of works is sending back millions and not clearing the water courses? People homes have become moldy and they get sick. How can I be silent? I have done all I can to help people with the little resources I have, suffering pains me! Anyways thanks for your rebuke. Have a Merry Christmas and a bright and prosperous 2023…

    2. If the T&T government and military had provided timely assistance to Granger, Petrotrin’s refinery and Trinbago’s economy would be humming laong like a well OILED machine.

  3. I think we need to give President Ramaphosa a little slack.. With all due respect, The Professor never wrote on Pres. Ramaphosa just a year ago, during Covid and his role in ending the Vaccine Scam.. Could it be a setup? We have lost The President of Haiti, Tanzania’s Great Leader, President Magufuli, attempts were made on The President of Madagascar’s life, all players in promoting an African treatment for Covid (yes Haiti was importing Madagascar’s CVO too)..
    If we are to talk about the capture of the Trinbagonian State (Allyuh eh see wah going on in Tobago?), then, Ex-Pres. Zuma and the Guptas are the subjects we can reference in this Trinbagonian dilemma.. And what is happening in Trinidad, and Tobago too, will make the Guptas look like Amateurs.

    Negro Reporters? Not even the Guptas were that bold..

    1. Most politicians start off with good intentions however once in power they become susceptible to various temptations, wealth, women etc. Very few are able to resist these temptations. The main difference between South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago is that South Africa is a large country with lots of resources and could survive a certain level of corruption. T&T is a small country and was always a one trick pony highly dependent on natural resources and with large part of the population who have a distaste for real work (mainly PNM supporters) and whose only interest in life is to indulge in idleness and pleasure seeking and whose lifestyle is encouraged by a racist government to prey and parasite on the rest of the hardworking, law abiding, and decent citizens. What happens next in T&T is anybody’s guess.

      My hope is that my fellow citizens will soon come to the realization that they have been ill served by successive PNM governments and take a risk and try something new.

      My best wishes to all for the holiday season.

  4. The financial situation of Heritage and Paria, the new companies created to replace Petrotrin has deteriorated since the creation of these entities to replace Petrotrin. More shocking than the financial figures is the fact that this situation mirrors the problems at Petrotrin which the Government claimed to be solving when it split Petrotrin to create Paria and Heritage, shut down Petrotrin’s refinery and sent home 5,000 workers. In less than four years, the Government has managed to re-create the Petrotrin problem, in the process imperiling a vital State enterprise.
    Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance continues to lie about the state of the country’s finances by cooking the books to paint a positive picture. This finance Minister should be replaced by someone who will present an honest statement of the country’s finances. Disclose everything. The nation will be shocked.

  5. “This is the Massy group’s second bid for a company in recent weeks. Its subsidiary Massy Gas Products Holdings Ltd entered into an agreement with the French company Air Liquide International, on November 28, to purchase for 100 per cent its shares in Air Liquide TT for US$51.5 million-US$58 million.”-Newsday.

    As a government financier and recipient of millions of dollars in government contracts. It is good to see the expansion of a durable company. Congratulations are in order, Massey has swallowed up all contenders like the “great white” shark in Trini waters. Small business men said they used to get contracts when Kamla was in power, in Galeota and elsewhere then Rowley took charge and Massey show up, everything disappeared. It is like the PNM to give the treasury over to their big business friends. KPB resisted the Sabgas and she was soon out of power.

    Roget knew how deep the conglomerate was in the PNM rabbit hole and even encouraged his supporters to boycott the 1% even venturing to make a list. Without fail the PNM friendly 1% return huge profits in all sectors of their investments. Roget once great fangs was defanged for all his sabor rattling. And they humiliated him…but being the boot licker that he is he took it all in stride.

    The PNM love affair with the 1% means no one else can survive. “Blue eye” boy Gerry Brooks was made chairman of NGC he scrapped the SIS contract even though it was 42% completed and he searched high and low for corruption but could not find any. Gerry Brooks Chief Operating Officer of the ANSA McCal group. The wastage of tax dollars by discontinuing the contract was blame on SIS, not on Gerry handlers who are obsessed with big contracts. And did not care about anyone but themselves.

    When the PNM is in power all big contracts must go to their financiers and controllers….everybody else join the breadline.
    Merry Christmas to one and all, thanks for stimulating our thinking Dr.Cudjoe. Interesting article and to all those who help us to voice our opinions thanks for keeping democracy alive. Without you all we will all have power remaining unaccountable and unchecked…..we agree to disagree in the spirit of hope as the message is for Christmas…

    1. With the pace at which technology is moving, It’s all going to end sooner than we think. Ralph Maraj wrote of it a few months ago, ‘Endless energy’.


      Maybe Trinicenter should look into the advancement of media technology and go LIVE on our TVs (Roku, etc.), phones, and tablets, 5G is causing even more of a stir here.
      We won’t have to wait a week to hear from the Professor and others. And Mamoo, this Afro/Indo scam go be over-with through its broadcasting…

      From the Indian Ocean, Mamoo.


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