The ANC’s great big lie

2014-12-01 06:00

Who rules South Africa? This is an important question to answer to understand the critical problems facing the country.

At the top are the mandarins of local capital who are supported by their international brethren. These are the super-rich, mainly white, citizens and a sprinkling of blacks. This segment pulls strings in the background as politicians cannot move without their say.

For example, when the government seeks to implement policies that are remotely anti-capital, they rehash their worn-out threat of “pulling out investments”.

If you are sceptical about how local and international capital rules South Africa, cast your mind back to the early 1990s. In his overseas travels, our first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela was propagating ideas about nationalisation the way Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is doing today.

But it is no secret that Mandela was firmly rebuffed by threats to stop advocating such “outdated” ideas. He returned home crestfallen to note that “nationalisation” would not work.

Clearly, he was the victim of the “foreign investments” threat and was told it would lead to penury – as if any country has ever “developed” because of “foreign investment”.

The second layer is the ANC government. This consists of politicians and bureaucrats who, because of their access to state and government resources since 1994, think they are calling the shots.

But this is an illusion as they are merely gatekeepers for the elite class. Their role is to ensure that “stability” reigns under a “legitimate government” and to keep at bay and silence the hordes of masses who might want to complain.

The third strata is made up of the poor citizens who are being duped by government and big capital. They are supposed to be calling the shots in a “democracy” as they vote politicians into power. But this is a mirage.

Every few years, a ritual called “elections” is embarked upon and the ANC wins.

The irony is that the worst recipient of this trick is the black majority that is duped into believing it is voting the ANC into power to pursue its interests when, in reality, the opposite is true.

For if it is not so, why is the government, after 20 years in “power”, unable to reverse the debilitating conditions of its core constituency?

And this sop of social grants is nothing but a huge smoke screen as the millions who live on grants are appendages of the state who live hand to mouth and barely eke out a pathetic existence.

What about the tripartite alliance? What alliance? There is no alliance left because the SA Communist Party is a shell holding on to the coat-tails of the ANC. Cosatu is in the same position with rumblings about unions like its metal workers’ union, Numsa.

The ANC Youth League has been dismembered. Let us not even talk about the ANC Women’s League.

Why do black people continue to vote for the ANC?

There many reasons – and some quite understandable – but in the context of the issue here, the point is that the ANC is playing an unfair game on its members and supporters. It claims very unreasonably that the opposition DA is the problem.

Voters are corralled and whipped into line with the chant: “If the DA wins, it will reintroduce apartheid.” But the ANC leadership knows very well this is unlikely to ever happen.

And how can this impasse be broken to shake this solid edifice and let through the energy that will lead to a government that will respond effectively to people’s needs?

The most organised group to do this would be the workers in Cosatu, but its leadership has sold workers to the ANC.

If Cosatu believes it is having any impact on the ANC, it must answer a few questions: What is the overarching objective of the alliance today? Who is the problem contemporarily? Before 1994, it was clearly the National Party and big capital.

But the National Party is long dead. Who is today occupying that space and shielding big capital by playing the “legitimacy game” of having been voted into power by the majority?

Groups like the Marikana miners – who saw through this huge subterfuge – and the millions who are out of the current political processes or, at a stretch, ANC members who might come to realise the game being played on them.

They hold the hope for the future by advocating what is in their interests and nobody else’s.

Hoeane is a senior lecturer in the department of political sciences at Unisa

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