The majority of TV news comes and goes, but last night a particular story struck a worrying chord for me, and I sincerely hope that eNews' rather alarmist reporter is just being alarmist.
The issue is a discussion document released by the ANC ahead of the ANC's National Conference in Mangaung, entitled 'The Second Transition? Building a national democratic society and the balance of forces in 2012.' I've found an online version of it here: http://www.anc.org.za/docs/discus/2012/transition.pdf
Here are three related news stories as well:http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Politics/Zuma-touts-his-second-transition-20120610 http://www.businesslive.co.za/southafrica/sa_markets/2012/06/12/limpopo-anc-rejects-second-transition http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/world-view/ancs-second-transition-pushes-south-africa-toward-tense-political-season/article4238568/
In essence, the discussion document - which has already been rejected by the ANC in Gauteng and Limpopo - appears to have been adopted by some revolutionary elements within the ANC, although in itself the document is incredibly vague and some analysts have written it off as pure rhetoric.
An example of what I'm talking about (a quote from the third story above): "No final decisions have been made, but some influential ANC factions are pushing for an ambitious agenda to “transform” the courts, the media, the economy, and even the much-praised constitution."
"Leaders of the youth league, meanwhile, are warning that blacks will seize white-owned farms in a Zimbabwe-style takeover if the farmers refuse to surrender their land. The vast majority of South Africa’s farmland is still owned by whites, even though apartheid ended in 1994.
“Whites must voluntarily give up their land if they don’t want to see young black people flooding their farms,” said Ronald Lamola, deputy president of the youth league, in a speech this week."
Before you get too concerned by that, later in the same story Gwede Mantashe is quoted as saying, “It is not ANC policy to expropriate land without compensation, and personally I don’t think it will work." Couple that with the announcement today that Malema's appeal has been denied, and the ANCYL's currency appears to be at an all time low within the ANC.
That's not to say that there is no risk at all, however. I get the feeling that Jacob Zuma is starting to be a little ostracised, not least because of the Spear painting, and not only by Malema's supporters. Look at the second story above: with two provinces coming out against the president's pet campaign in no uncertain terms, that much is clear.
My only thought is that what else can the ANC do that it isn't already going, with no significant changes for average citizens' lives? It is clear from the discussion document that they're tired of the status quo, and yet that status quo is already the cause for consistent belly-aching: BEE, nationalisation, land redistribution, the (recent) significant losses in court by the government.
So what does the document *actually* say? Here are some quotes:
"This paper therefore proposes that our vision for the next few decades should be informed by an approach that suggests that having concluded our first transition with its focus on democratisation over the last eighteen years, we need a vision for a second transition that must focus on the social and economic transformation of South Africa over the next 30 to 50 years."
"During our political transition, the National Party as the political representatives of the white ruling bloc was a critical part of the political transition. During a socio-economic transition, white capital will have to be a critical part of consensus on a socio-economic transition. And, as with the political negotiations, they will have their own agenda and tactics, and we will have to engage and struggle to ensure that our vision forms the basis of national consensus."
"Why a second transition and not simply a continuation of what went before? In the first instance, our first transition was characterised by a framework and a national consensus that may have been appropriate for a political transition, but has proven inadequate and even inappropriate for a social and economic transformation phase."
Well then, that quote above seems to sum it up for me. Obviously the point of a discussion document is that it is there to provoke discussion at the conference, so it doesn't contain any details, but I'm a bit concerned where the rank and file of the ANC members might take something that promises to completely rewrite all traditional thinking and compromises.
The people who phrased the discussion document itself have obviously taken great care with it and gone into a franker self-examination of what is wrong with South Africa than I think many of us would give them credit for had we not seen it, but they don't necessarily represent the whole of the ANC.
Brute summary: Undefined second transition + unstable political situation fuelled by need to deliver on promises = potentially explosive conference at Mangaung.