Raymond Suttner: Veteranism and the virtues of a good klap

In one of the interviews with the new Minister of Mineral development, Mosebenzi Zwane, I found myself smirking

when he said he had been in the ANC for 20 years, thinking that means he joined in 1995.

My reaction is what FRELIMO once described as ‘veteranism’, the sense that anyone who has been around in the struggle for long always knows best. I do not think I always know best but some of us need to recognise that those who were fairly mature young people in politics, those who were around 25 in 1990 are now 50, so there is a whole generation who has come into politics without much involvement in the ‘struggle’.

I was born in 1945, as World War 11 ended, which meant that World War I was 30 years away, something in the history books, just as the states of emergency of the 1980s that are so much a part of the experience of many of us is not recent history for many of the emerging leaders of today, it is fairly distant for them.

A whole generation has grown up without knowing what it means to get a smack or even an uninvited push or rudeness from the police. I look at their smooth, unscarred faces with some irritation. I sometimes find myself thinking that this chap would not be saying what he is now articulating if he had just had a few klaps in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s. I suppose I am falling into the error of veteranism…

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