IRONY IN THE ‘ROSE FOR RANJENI’
By: Bhekisisa Mncube
There is an irony in Ranjeni Munusamy’s newly found critical voice against the ANC and lampooning of President Jacob Zuma. The irony is that Munusamy has always been a very proud member of the ANC and probably had ambitions to serve in the higher office.
Munusamy’s action reminds me of the American writer William Faulkner’s short story cunningly named, “A Rose for Emily”. The story is about the eccentric life of Emily Grierson and her odd relationships with her father, her lover and the horrible secret she hides.
Munusamy also has an eccentric lifestyle. She has many horrible secrets in her closet gleaned from classified intelligence reports, interviews with spies and of course her long time working relationships with the ANC bigwigs. Over the years, she also has had odd, if not inappropriate sexual relationships with many a comrade.
She sacrificed her job and career as a journalist at the Sunday Times when she had to execute one of the most daring moves from the Zuma camp – labeling the then National Director of Public Prosecution, Bulelani Ngcuka, a spy. She tried to push the story through the paper, but her editors wouldn’t budge. She took it to the rival newspaper – the City Press. After the expose’, she resigned in a huff.
Subsequently, the then President Thabo Mbeki upped the ante and launched the Hefer Commission of Inquiry into the City Press expose. The commission found no bases for Munusamy’s claims. But, in exposing Ngcuka, she cemented the bond with the Zuma camp.
In April 2009, she nailed her colours to the mast as she berated the South African media. She wrote thus: “For seven years, these newspapers and many others surrendered their pages to editorial and caricature to construct the criminal cases against Zuma and project him as “evil”, “corrupt” and “unfit to lead”.
In an interview I had with Munusamy for my research project into the media ethics (09 November 2004: 19:15 to 21:15) she contended that media had a “strange” relationship with Ngcuka. She said of the infamous off-the-record briefing: “it was the last straw.” She told me, she decided to break ranks, “not as a messiah, purely a personal decision,” to expose the Ngcuka’s story so as, “to clear my conscience”.
But, the most enduring legacy of Munusamy factional political activity was her management of a website aptly named, “Friends of Jacob Zuma”. She was the mastermind behind Zuma’s public relations campaign during the latter’s court appearances and of course during the windy road to Polokwane. Zuma’s legal team and his kitchen cabinet always counted on her. She was on first name basis with Zuma. There were more just comrades, but friends. Munusamy flew across the country sharing the “real story” behind Zuma’s prosecution.
However, in October 2010, Munusamy was frog marched out of the Zuma administration screaming and kicking. History records that she leaked sensitive information to the media about Blade Nzimande’s visit to Cuba. This led to the relationship with Nzimande breaking down irrevocable. However, Munusamy lost more than just a job. She lost a home. The ANC had been her home for many years.
Fast forward to 2013 (Mercury, August 29) Munusamy sings a different tune. She wittingly supports the opposition parties’ stance on Zuma that cast him as “evil”, “corrupt” and “unfit to lead”. She even questioned the rationality of the University of Malaysia conferring an Honorary Doctorate in Leadership on Zuma. “It is unclear what criteria the university used to confer the award on Zuma or whether it was aware that eight opposition parties wanted the Constitutional Court to allow them to debate a motion of no confidence in the president,” she wrote. She went on to decry the so-called spiralling levels of corruption and also cast doubt on Zuma’s bona fide. “Accountability remains a moving target when it comes to the Zuma presidency.”
In another article entitled ‘My Comrade, My Enemy: The ANC’s world of comradely make-believe,’ (Daily Maverick, August, 12), she wrote thus: “But the glory days are long gone and so is the spirit on which comradeship was fostered. Something else has taken its place, eating away at the fabric of the Alliance and our society at large”.
The question that lingers on is when did Munusamy realise that something was rotten in the state of Denmark? There is indeed an irony in the “Rose of Ranjeni”. Munusamy’s rose is dead, and she is hurting deeply. From her recent writings, one discerns a longing for belonging. All she really craves for is a ‘comradely’ embrace, a ‘comradely’ wink, a ‘comradely’ touch and a ‘comradely’ whisper. Unfortunately, it’s too late as Jim Reeves put it succinctly in one of his songs – “A fallen star, that`s what you are.”
Mncube is a Journalism MA candidate at the Durban University of Technology – his research area is on the political economy of the South African media. He is also a resident political analyst at Gagasi 99.5 FM.