Khaya Dlanga wrote in his M&G column that he criticises the ANC but he will still vote for it. He cited this to be a form of hypocrisy and yes at face value, his assertion of hypocrisy appears valid. However, there is nothing hypocritical with being able to criticise an organisation that one is associated with. The only hypocrisy is when one deliberately spins in favour of an organisation they know has collapsed beyond resuscitation.
It is my belief that the ANC is beyond redemption through criticism because the party leadership has shut down space for meaningful dissent that challenges the status quo. People, who disagree, criticise or expose the inadequacies of the current leadership and how it is steering South Africa – by virtue of being the ruling party – towards a state of anarchy are silenced. Dlanga with his style to ‘criticise’ the ANC commits a wicked and unforgivable error of being able “to separate the party from the person who leads it”. That is a mythical approach to understanding the relationship between the leader and the party.
Zuma’s support base in the ANC – as determined by conferences – has been significantly engineered to remain at an all time growth point since Polokwane. The unfortunate reality is that the leadership structures have also been engineered to be aligned with the faction that agrees with Zuma. Tellingly, even Dlanga’s praises of the ANC end in the year 2007, as the current lot has run our GDP growth aground, astronomically increased our petrol prices and continuously evades accountability by censoring documents that are in the public interest.
We have seen corruption corrode the moral fiber of our government institutions particularly because the man in the helm is no stranger to corruption circles. How does one separate the President from the party he leads? Who is meant to be the custodian of the party’s vision? Who is meant to write political reports for NEC meetings so as to feed a particular political vision for the party? Surely not the President I suppose.
There is also a slight misuse and interpretation of history. Dlanga draws parallels between Dr AB Xuma and Zuma. Xuma was a progressive – albeit conservative at times – that was responsible for the turnaround of the ANC after its demise during the 1930s. It was under Xuma’s leadership that women could claim equal membership to men within the party and it was under his guidance that the ANC Youth League was launched. Much to the contrary, Zuma has constantly undermined women and their place in society and under his ‘leadership’ he allowed anarchists to rise to the leadership of the ANCYL to serve his narrow political interests and when the anarchists turned on him, he became a Machiavellian Prince and destroyed the ANCYL. Xuma served the ANC with distinction and put the party ahead of himself even significantly using his own money to fund the party as opposed to a Zuma who uses the ANC to usurp more wealth for himself, his family and friends.
Dlanga uses history to console himself about the present “dark period” of the ANC as he hopes that the ANC will return to its glory days of selflessly serving the people. What he fails to tell the public is that voting for a party that is undergoing darkness, automatically brings darkness to the entire country when that party is allowed to be in government. The logic of voting is that parties that are undergoing dark periods should be given leave of absence from governing, so that they find the light; however not to the detriment of the Republic.
The last important lesson from history is that we can use it to measure how far the ANC has veered away from its core values that informed it during the struggle days for our freedom. We can use history to see if today’s ANC leadership resembles those leaders of yesteryears who served in a sacrificial manner, prepared to die for their country with no prospect of having a bunker when under attack or a firepool when their houses got burnt by political rivals. History makes us conclude that the current ANC leadership has disengaged with the reality of the ordinary South Africans, it is only hot air that they speak about a commitment to eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Lastly, it is somewhat naïve to persuade people to start looking beyond the current leadership and start being excited by leaders who can only take over the ANC in 2017. It simply means that in the meantime citizens must be comfortable with mediocrity and be resigned to unresponsive governance that does not shake even as protesters die at the hands of police. The ANC has reached its natural demise as all liberation movements tend to. My grandmother has poignant advice she repeats for those who hang on to history, “Days gone by never return”.
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