Publication: Sunday Independent Issued: Date: 2003-09-07 Reporter: Douglas Gibson

Essop Pahad Always Howls the Loudest



Sunday Independent

Date 2003-09-07


Douglas Gibson

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Essop Pahad, the minister in the presidency, represents the ANC's ugliest and most dangerous tendencies. He is a symbol of the stifling conformity in South African public discourse, the intolerance that is driving people of conscience to desert public life in droves ("Forging ahead in the new democracy", The Sunday Independent, August 31).

"Who do you think you are to criticise the executive and the president?" That is what Pahad demanded of the members of the ANC study group on the standing committee on public accounts, according to Andrew Feinstein, Pahad's own ANC colleague.

That is how Pahad began to undermine the investigation into the arms deal at the cost of parliament's integrity and honour.

Last weekend, he accused the opposition of leading a "feeding frenzy" and slammed the media for "howling, sometimes sloppy, headlines".

But Pahad has howled the loudest - and the worst.

When the Democratic Alliance's Raenette Taljaard raised the issue of the arms deal during the president's budget debate in parliament on June 18, Pahad responded : "Regarding the Hon Taljaard, the days of white schoolmistresses are over!"

This blatantly racist and sexist statement followed a long tirade of by the minister in which he boasted of the ANC's supposed gender sensitivity and non-racialism, and railed against the "pale, male faces" in parliament.

This behaviour from Pahad is nothing new. In 1996, when the DA's Mike Ellis spoke about the ANC's Sarafina 2 scandal, Pahad accused him of being in "cahoots with one or more pharmaceutical companies" and of conspiring with "some hidden monopoly'. Following a special investigation by a parliamentary committee, Pahad was forced to apologise and withdraw his defamatory remarks.

You can never rely on minister Pahad to make a statement that is either logical or factually correct. The only thing you can rely on is that he will always make a statement, and he will always be abusive.

Writing about a visit to Cuba in 1976 - when the abuses of dictator Fidel Castro had long since become clear to the world - minister Pahad had declared that "...we see the prime necessity of a party to lead, to guide and to direct".

Douglas Gibson MP Chief whip of the Democratic Alliance.

With acknowledgements to Douglas Gibson and the Sunday Independent.