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Mphatjie Monareng
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A different ANC

09 April 2010, 15:20  - Mphatjie Monareng
Looking at the history of the ANC, from the years preceding its unbanning in 1990, under the visionary leadership of Oliver Tambo, it is painful to admit that this once dignified organisation has plunged so quickly from the heights of a movement in pursuit justice to the low depths of a myopic ruling party in total dereliction of its historic mission.

The ANC of today is a completely different animal from the ANC of the early 1990s and before, and its current leadership collective - across the various organs and alliance partners - provides the perfect metaphorical picture of the party’s new alien character and composure.

Some of the qualities the party has shed in the recent past include dignity, honesty and the pursuit of a just cause. People who, not so many years ago, were community organisers and educators campaigning for justice and equality have suddenly become strange characters with new tastes.

During the years of Tambo’s leadership of the ANC - and this is also true to the era under Nelson Mandela and, to a certain degree, even under Thabo Mbeki - you got a sense that the leadership of the so-called liberation movement was aware of the heavy historical responsibilities it carries on its shoulders and, with those responsibilities, the aspirations of the black majority.

Looking at the ANC during the years of Tambo, Mandela and Mbeki, one noticed an important common denominator: educated and level-headed leadership not fond of theatrics, leadership that didn’t thrive on popularity but rather conscience. With the stroke of a vote in a conference in December 2007, a conference of song, dance and hauling, all that was lost.

Jacob Zuma’s supporters, the most vocal of whom were the ANC Youth League, Cosatu and the SACP, told us that Zuma was a man in touch with the people, a disciplined cadre of the ANC. We now all know that Zuma is neither really in touch with the people and their realities, nor is he as disciplined as we were told.

South Africans out there want a government that uses the scare resources available to uplift society, not to enrich a few politicians, their families and friends. The scramble for state resources and positions has redefined the humbled character of the ANC and eroded the legitimacy of its historic mission. It now looks like it’s always been about power, not justice and equality.

Perhaps the saddest part of the ANC’s sudden adoption of a new selfish character is the fact that the conditions under which many of their ordinary members and supporters live are either still the same as they were before 1994 or worse. In the main, we’ve only replaced whites with blacks.

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