It is often said that communications follows action. What this really means is that you must never try and use Gimmicks such as press announcement to fix what is wrong with the announcement itself. In the case of the DA and Agang shananigans instead of consulting members of Agang adequately Mamphela was too concerned about her big announcement being leaked to the press. There seems to have been a not so well thought out rush to announce this so called big shift announcement resulting in the egg on everyone’s face about whether Mamphele is to join the DA or not. So what was supposed to be an announcement of a merger of equals rapidly became a ‘baaskap display with Zille issuing ultimatums to someone who would be her President [Should an election be miraculously won by the DA in April] . This is very bad no matter how you want to sugar quote it. Here is someone who just a mere one year ago declared to the world that 60 percent of South Africans believe that the DA would bring Apartheid back when they came to power – who by her conduct today almost poves that the DA can play hard ball with a senior black leader. What about ordinary people with no similar pedigree.
All this mess made the respected Thabo Leshilo find himself in as they say in Afrikaans ..tamatie straat. He knew it to be untrue that Aganga was to merge if he did then he did not agree and therefore did something that was obviously going to result in him being fired. From outside it seems he was non the wiser bout Mamphela joining the DA or he was in disagreement – He should have therefore stepped down voluntarily rather than go out and differ with the organization. But this is the dilemma of spin doctors the world over. You will remember the Parks Mankahlana debacle over Mandela’s wedding – The guy simply did not know that Mandela at 80 was gonna get married – and in order to keep media at bay the powers that be decided to keep him in the dark so he can have the believability when denying.
The result of that was a media back lash because the media couldn’t bring themselves to believe that he of all people did not possibly know. Those who know better say he indeed did not know. Of course if they know any better they are free to contradict me- we are now talking about people who have departed. Leshilo – a journalist then would have been amongst those who sought to nail Parks over this – he was a ruthless editor who was feared by spin doctors. Today on the other side – I have to sympathise with him while I hope that he now appreciated what Parks went through. He has to refuse to speak in the midst f possible the biggest political story after Mandela’s passing – A black consciousness leader joining a lily white political party. [ I know there is a sprinkling of blacks – but you get my drift here].
Now next time you want to announce anything wait until you have crossed all the t’s because an announcement of this nature is like a scrambled egg – you can only eat it or throw it away. You can’t undo it. What is shocking is that with all her experience Zille acted in haste to announce this and then launch Mamphela into a media frenzy resulting in embarrassing contradictions. It did not make things easy that Agang leaders were in a frenzy and were told at the last minute. This looks like media announcement was being used to make the decision irreversible so that the Agang leaders should feel somewhat obliged to follow the leader. That feeling of betrayal cannot be explained. Especially after the utterances the leader had made about the DA – Both a year ago and most recently repeating these in her biography.
Leshilo is no fool. This is a good way for him to jump off the sinking ship rather than risk his illustrious career. What happened must be a lesson to any communicator going into politics. Often your bosses have little or no regard for your profession. So they can ask you easily to go and lie for them – you need to resist this and rather quit.
I will always have respect from Sipho Ngwema and Palesa Morudu who when faced with COPE deception and lies offered to resign from the party and showed the so called leaders a middle finger. To this day they can stand tall and are a benchmark in spin-doctor circles. In this business credibility goes a long way. Look it does not mean people won’t differ with you – but at least they know that they can take you at your word. So even as he goes into the sunset in the midst of a party that was still born – he at least did not have to be ceased with explaining this inexplicable developments and so his credibility was spared and so he will be snapped up by anyone looking for a spokesman of integrity.
· Tabane is Communications Specialist, Businessman and CEO of Oresego Communications.
By Onkgopotse JJ Tabane