Early conference won’t cure ANC’s ills

2016-09-18 06:09
FAMILY FEUD Members of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association march against members of the Occupy Luthuli House movement in a show of force to protect the ANC’s headquarters. The Occupy members eventually delivered a memorandum of grievances to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

FAMILY FEUD Members of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association march against members of the Occupy Luthuli House movement in a show of force to protect the ANC’s headquarters. The Occupy members eventually delivered a memorandum of grievances to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

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The call for an early elective conference could have been jaw-dropping were it not for the infantile, disorderly behaviour of the ANC Youth League and the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association giving vent to its propensity for war talk.

By their posture and utterances the youth league and veterans’ association have unashamedly portrayed themselves as the paratroopers of the dominant faction within the ANC.

They only find their voices when ordered to do the dirty work of their masters.

Their vociferous but contradictory calls for, and against, an early elective conference should be treated with suspicion, especially as they are renowned for being short on strategy and long on insults and threats of violence in defence of their handlers.

Their fanaticism notwithstanding, the merits of their proposal for an early conference needs consideration to determine whether it can contribute to efforts to extricate the ANC from the quagmire in which it finds itself.

In principle, an early conference is not a bad idea as it is an option available to any organisation that is under siege or rudderless.

The ANC’s fault lines have been laid bare. This was seen, yet again, most recently at last Monday’s despicable events involving the targeting of members of the Occupy Luthuli House movement.

Given the ever-deepening crisis engulfing the ANC as a result of a series of self-inflicted injuries, it is doubtful that an early elective conference would be the panacea the governing party needs to cure itself of all the ills eating at its soul.

It is common cause that the ANC is riddled with factionalism, moral bankruptcy, arrogance and greed, among other malfeasances.

The party is akin to a patient in intensive care, and simply applying a bandage to its near-fatal injuries will not be a lifesaver. What is needed is major surgery to rid the patient of a festering, malignant cancer.

The ANC needs a major overhaul to renew itself. Anything else will only prolong its agony and lead to the party bleeding to death.

The ANC’s darkest hour – the fisticuffs rendered by ANC members against ANC members last Monday – confirms what Mkhuluwa AKA former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe once said: “The ANC cannot self-correct.”

Factionalism is institutionalised. The leadership has lost all legitimacy to govern as it is beholden to a particular faction which is immersed in denial and continues to adopt the proverbial ostrich attitude.

What constitutes the prescription that will heal the ANC’s woes? Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.

Rather than holding an early elective conference with its main focus being the election of a new leadership, what is desperately needed is a consultative conference to allow for a deeper diagnosis of the tribulations bedevilling the oldest liberation movement on the African continent.

A consultative conference will afford not only ANC members but also other organisations aligned to the mother body an opportunity to introspect and determine how they ended up trapped, or captured, in the current morass.

Unless we snap out of this denialism, we will be hoodwinked into believing that the ANC’s previous consultative conferences – there were only three in its history: in Lobatse, Botswana in 1962; in Morogoro, Tanzania in 1969; and in Kabwe, Zambia in 1985 – happened simply because the ANC was in exile.

This myth will serve to lull us into a false sense of security.

It is a falsehood peddled by those who want to preserve the status quo and does not take cognisance of the dire straits in which the governing party finds itself.

How disappointing that some among us would like to provide administrative responses to political challenges.

Like our forebears at Lobatse, Morogoro and Kwabe, we have to be bold and take unprecedented steps to arrest the haemorrhaging of ANC support.

Unfortunately, the ANC on its own cannot cure its ills.

In Setswana we say: Ngaka gae ikalafe (A doctor cannot cure herself).

Clearly, the crisis is so desperate that the ANC is incapable of arresting the decline in its support.

It is against this backdrop that an indaba about leadership elections – rather than policy matters – would only serve to perpetuate the wrong trajectory, which we first embarked upon in Polokwane in December 2007.

A consultative conference will enable participants to speak openly and honestly about the dire state of the ANC and craft a roadmap back to our former glory.

This conference would also review the relevance of the women’s and youth leagues and the moribund and trigger-happy hired guns that have come to define members of the military veterans’ association.

The conference must also provide teeth, unlike the ineffective Integrity Committee.

The disastrous results of turning a conference into a political beauty contest, with no serious discussions on policy and programmes, are all too obvious. The ANC will be ill-advised to continue pursuing this self-destructive path.

The current leadership has proved to be a big part of the problem, having stooped as low as abrogating its responsibility by advocating a narrative of “collective responsibility” in its continuing shenanigans of self-preservation.

It cannot be entrusted to determine the plans for this proposed consultative conference as it will place these leaders in name only in the pound seats, yet again, to corrupt processes to suit themselves and their lackeys.

They must step aside and a conference preparatory committee should be constituted by respected stalwarts of the liberation movement.

The road leading to this conference will be littered with pitfalls, including attempts at gate-keeping, vote-buying, personal attacks and stymying processes.

Having women and men who are morally upright and have the interest of the organisation at heart will mitigate against these risks.

The crisis engulfing the ANC is all-encompassing and its woeful performance at the ballot box during the recent municipal polls has deepened it.

So, any gathering convened should be for the purpose of making a thorough assessment of the election results – which recorded an unambiguous message from the people – and what it means for the future of the ANC.

The conference must also develop clear and enforceable standards on who qualifies to be a leader.

At the risk of being accused of elitism, such credentials include a minimum level of education as our recent past has demonstrated the catastrophic effect of not having minimum standards to lead the party.

The bottom line is this: the ANC urgently needs to change course or get bust.

There has to be a decisive break from our shameful reputation of corruption, nepotism, arrogance, aloofness and being self-serving.

For the consultative conference to be considered successful, it should contribute to ridding the ANC of everything bad about it.

However, should the proposed conference give us more of the same, this would spell calamity.

Mogodiri is a media specialist and an ANC member based in Johannesburg.

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Read more on:    anc  |  mkmva  |  ancyl  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  occupy luthuli house

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