ANC lives and leads

2014-10-22 00:00

I REFER to the opinion piece by William Gumede in The Witness of October 17 titled “Dictators of the liberation elite” and must respond because of his position of influence.

His article reminded me of Fanon who argued when “people hold a core belief that is very strong ... it would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalise, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”

Gumede raised a number of falsehoods that, as Shakespeare said, are “full of sound and fury signifying nothing”.

I shall recap what I think are key falsehoods, respond to each one and conclude by appealing to his scholarly “sanities” to desist from trying to find relevance by criticising the African National Congress because many men, greater than he, have tried and failed to trounce the ANC.

Firstly, he argues “the ANC’s organisational culture … is undermining effective government, democracy and economic growth”.

Considering the respect society gives to educated people like professors, it is regrettable that cognitive dissonance has affected him so much he ignored the historical fact — the right to freedom of expression he is enjoying is a consequence of the ANC’s contribution.

Moreover, the ANC ensured that democratic institutions, giving practical meaning to the Constitutional provisions, are established. It is the same ANC that has brought stability to South Africa since 1994. Guided by its maximum programme, namely its National Democratic Revolution, the ANC has advanced transformative politics, thus scoring a number of victories.

According to a 2013 Daily Maverick article, the economy has expanded 83% over the past 19 years and national income per capita has increased from R27 500 in 1993 to R38 500 in 2012 — or 40%. Household disposable income per capita has increased 43% and total employment has increased more than 3,5 million since 1994.

The economy grew 3,2% a year on average between 1994 and 2012, transforming the economy from a gross domestic product (GDP) of $136 billion in 1994 to a GDP of $384 billion in 2012.

The ANC was the first to acknowledge there are challenges like the escalating cost of living and the structural challenges of poverty, unemployment and equality, hence we say “aluta continua” (the struggle continues).

However, to attribute these challenges to the ANC’s organisational culture defeats logic, considering a professor must at least offer balanced criticism as opposed to unconstructive criticism.

Secondly, he falsely claims “the ANC’s internal practices are based on democratic centralism, which roughly means a few leaders make decisions, send out commands and members and supporters must unquestioningly obey.”

This is a confused (mis)comprehension of democratic centralism, hence, I must educate the professor that democratic centralism is an organisational democratic principle which, firstly, means the view of the majority binds the minority after due processes have taken place and, secondly, the decisions of higher structures bind lower structures, but such decisions can be questioned only during formal ANC meetings.

Democratic centralism is a political umbilical cord connecting ANC members to democratic debates and leadership elections.

Thirdly, he falsely claims “only its loyal cadres should be appointed to key positions in government”.

Where on Earth would a ruling party appoint people to key government positions who are opposed to its vision and policies? Even U.S. President Barack Obama has done the same thing. Hence there is nothing wrong with cadre deployment. Lastly, he falsely claims “these movements often try to crush the opposition or cut them off from state patronage.”

This is a funny argument, because politics is about the contestation for power, which must be used to address electorate issues. The ANC cannot assist the opposition to co-govern with it when the electorate has chosen the ANC.

I appeal to the professor to get help, because his attitude towards the ANC exacerbates his cognitive dissonance diagnosis. He must swallow his academic tail and accept the ANC lives and leads.

• Thembinkosi “Guerrilla” Zondi is the acting manager of the research unit of the ANC KwaZulu-Natal Parliamentary Caucus and Ward 3 ANC branch chairperson in uMshwathi.

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