Three weeks ago, during an ANC event at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria, Fred Camphor of SA Hunters questioned President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding the state of civilian firearm ownership in South Africa. The exchange went as follows:
It is very tempting to take Ramaphosa’s comments regarding the necessity of guns for self-defence, and the pressing need to fix the registry, and proclaim them as gospel. In these trying times people are desperate for any silver lining we can find. Anything indicating that the president has some sort of plan.
Unfortunately we cannot cherrypick parts of the president’s answer we like. To get the full picture, we must listen carefully to everything he said. Including (and especially) the bit below, where he describes his desire for a gun-free society. And where he uses the autocratic state of Vietnam as his shining example.
“Let me tell you my own approach on this, and my approach is borne out of an experience that I had. I went to Vietnam a few years ago…Vietnam was one of those countries where nearly everyone was armed, even young children…They were heavily armed…They had to arrive after the wars…at a stage of saying we must de-arm. We must disarm ourselves. And the only people who are allowed to be armed are soldiers. Not even the police…And I said to me this looks so ideal…Many people who are killed are killed by guns…Will time come where we say let us all disarm so we no longer have guns? The guns that are killing so many of our people. We have become the murder capital of the world. So many people are being killed, and many of them are being killed by guns. The cash-in-transit heists are being done by guns.” – Cyril Ramaphosa
Many of the statements made by the president are blatantly (and rather embarrassingly) wrong. For starters, guns aren’t killing anyone: criminals are the ones doing the murdering. Secondly, far more South Africans are killed by use of sharp objects annually than are shot dead. Thirdly, while we are certainly a murderous nation, the title of Murder Capital of the World is hotly contested between Honduras and El Salvador: we (only) clock-in around 7th place. Lastly, I don’t think I have to say anything about Vietnam’s appalling human rights record.
Inaccuracies and blind idealism aside, the president’s anti-gun ownership statements shouldn’t come as a surprise.
He did after all appoint the vocally anti-gun Bheki Cele as Minister of Police. Who a mere few weeks ago said that only the police and military should have guns. This wasn’t the first time Cele nailed his civilian disarmament colours to the mast. He did so shortly after being appointed as minister last year. The Deputy Minister of Police echoed this message, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to conclude that civilian disarmament is the prevailing agenda within the Police Ministry.
Significantly, the draft amendments that would have outlawed firearms for self-defence came to light under Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency. A product of the Civilian Secretariat of Police, and very likely with the blessing of Bheki Cele, the draft amendments were the most draconian and unworkable firearm legislation proposals in modern memory. If it weren’t for the united front of gun owners that opposed them tooth and nail, they may very well have been passed into law.
Proposing to outlaw citizens owning guns for self-defence in a country where the National Commissioner of Police admitted that it is impossible for the SAPS to fulfil its constitutional mandate, exposes the degree of contempt with which the government and the ANC regards law-abiding citizens.
Remember that the ANC gave us the FCA of 2000. And that they did so with the intent that it would disarm the civilian populace via incrementally increasing restrictions. Realising that such an outcome aligns with the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), it becomes very difficult to dismiss the ANC’s parroting of GFSA talking-points (and campaigning on them) as mere ignorance.
Irregular and chronically unlawful behaviour on the part of the CFR and SAPS regarding firearm licencing provides further evidence that a nefarious agenda is at play.
If we conclude that Cyril Ramaphosa is somehow in favour of civilians owning guns for self-defence, and that he is committed to fixing the broken and dysfunctional registry, we may be making a dangerous mistake. It requires us to completely ignore the ANC’s extensive reputation favouring civilian disarmament.
Cyril Ramaphosa speaks with a forked tongue. The only consistent part of his message is that he is inconsistent about nearly everything.
He has promised the implementation of expropriation without compensation to one group of people, whilst denying it will ever happen to another. He perpetually expresses shock at problems that are well-publicised, and which are the result of years of criminal mismanagement by people his ANC have deployed to their positions. There is hardly an issue Cyril Ramaphosa hasn’t flip-flopped on, from Israel, to SOEs, to Bosasa, to Zuma.
He has also been deathly quiet regarding the myriad of of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and Venezuela. Instead the ANC has actively supported the murderous despots ruling those nations, and pledged solidarity with their criminal cause.
Now, I don’t pretend to have the measure of the man. Cyril Ramaphosa may indeed have the noblest of intentions. But a glance at his track record should dispel such sentiments. After just over a year under his presidency, we have been locked in a constant fight to preserve our rights from erosion.
The New Dawn has faded faster than the smile on a Sea Point jogger’s face.
In my personal opinion, Cyril Ramaphosa is either a sophisticated liar or a lame duck with no real influence within the ANC. He is either saying to everyone what he thinks they want to hear, or he is powerless to dictate what direction the party (and the government) should take. These are the only rational explanations for the jarring inconsistencies which flow from his office.
I am a gun owner, and I do not trust Cyril Ramaphosa. I therefore plead to firearm ownership organisations to be cautious when dealing with the ANC. They have consistently displayed open hostility to gun owners, and chose to pursue an agenda that will leave the government holding the sole monopoly on armed force. They are not an adder we should enthusiastically embrace to our collective bosom.
I hope that I am wrong, and that every assertion I make above proves to be false. Maybe Ramaphosa surprises us all, and commits to the reforms we so desperately want and need. But 25 years of government eroding my firearm rights has left me a touch cynical.
Guns have only two enemies: rust and politicians. The maxim holds true. So does the saying “once bitten, twice shy”. And we have been bitten more than just once.
Written by Gideon Joubert