ANC loses its moral authority

2014-11-16 15:00

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Moral authority is an intangible thing. Only detectable by its presence, it is a quality you will recognise in a human being, an institution or state.

Let’s take Nelson Mandela, our founding president, for example. He had moral authority built through decades of doing the right thing.

With this, he could make his nation do things we may not have wanted to, like agree to reconcile with each other despite our pasts, for guerillas to put down their arms, and for his economic advisers to drop nationalisation as a policy option.

Fast-forward to the present. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has moral authority because she is unflinching when it comes to the law. Almost stoic, she lives by the book and so we have come to respect her authority.

Ditto our Constitutional Court as an institution of moral authority. Its judgments might not always get universal agreement (there is always a loser), but they enjoy legitimacy in society. We trust the court’s legal authority because we trust its moral authority.

The governing ANC had moral authority in spades. The party has about 3?million signed-up members, but it is supported by many more – an indication of authority.

During the struggle, its moral authority was high and the party mobilised a movement substantial enough to topple a strong apartheid state because it was able to persuade the world to join it on the road to liberation.

The ANC was regarded ultimately as a movement that would do the right thing.

But this week, there was a sense of loss when an open rebellion took place in Parliament.

This after an attempt was made by the party’s parliamentary caucus (with its huge majority) to bully through a whitewashed outcome of the splurge on the president’s residence at Nkandla.

While the ANC downplays the incident?... Pictures: Lerato Maduna/Foto24

...?the EFF revisits its chants of #PayBackTheMoney?...

... and the DA joins in the chorus

The ANC has lost moral authority. The public, even its voting public, no longer believes the party will do the right thing.

And its flailing MPs revealed this.

The Speaker and ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete looked like a sad and bedraggled royal sitting on a crown and insulting her subjects. “You wish!” was all she could muster when challenged.

ANC ministers lost their cool and used profanities in the House and the official opposition became the court jesters – the Economic Freedom Fighters, in their faux worker gear, added to a carnival of madness.

Control was lost, but more worryingly for the ANC, it lost moral authority.

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