Academic questions ANC's abilities

By Drum Digital
25 July 2012

The ANC is unable to put its "national democratic revolution" (NDR) into practice but it is capable of destroying the country, a Russian academic said on Wednesday.

"The ANC cannot implement this [NDR] policy," said Irina Filatova, a former head of African studies at Moscow State University.

"But there will be one aspect it can do, and it can destroy this country. There could be partial land reform, partial nationalisation of mines...."

But ultimately there would be control of the country by the state, and the control of the state by the party, she said.

Filatova was speaking in Johannesburg at a discussion hosted by the FW de Klerk Foundation on the recent African National Congress policy conference.

She said the ANC "obviously believes in this ideology" as it spoke of the unique nature of its developmental state.

"I think that the ANC is a bit lost about the second stage of the revolution," Filatova said.

"In the 1980s it was so obvious what would happen."

Apartheid would end, and it was assumed that capitalism would also end. But then came the collapse of the Soviet Union.

She said the more the economy failed, the deeper the ANC was going to dig in its heels.

"The more failure[s] there are, the more they will try to use various means, both constitutional and unconstitutional, to keep their following," Filatova said.

"And their following has been promised a great socialist future, and they would want it."

Earlier, John Kane-Berman, executive director of the SA Institute of Race Relations, said the NDR was the "glue which holds the alliance together".

It had its origins in political theory by Vladimir Lenin, who believed the wealth of imperial powers arose only from exploitation of their colonies, not from capital risk or good management.

South Africa had not been a colony since 1910. The white settlers remained but they were seen as the equivalent of a colonial power, and blacks as the oppressed, said Kane-Berman.

"So, it follows that white wealth arises from exploitation, and is therefore illegitimate and immoral," he said.

The NDR was taken on by the party after it was introduced to it by the SA Communist Party.

He said the ANC had been accused of betraying the NDR, but it had reached some milestones.

"The supremacy of Luthuli House over Parliament and Cabinet has been very firmly established -- the party overrides the state," he said.

More centralisation was also underway, in terms of control over provinces.

Kane-Berman said this wasa long process marked by more interventionist policies, cadre deployment, weak civil servants and more party control.

De Klerk, the last apartheid head of state in South Africa, was scheduled to be the closing speaker at the event titled "National Policy at the Crossroads".

The conference is examining policies in the ruling ANC and current political developments.

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