ANC must heed Vavi’s honest warning

2011-04-09 13:01

Zwelinzima Vavi’s warning to the ANC that the party either does a thorough introspection or see the day “when we may have to call someone President Zille” has been met with the usual ­denialism by some within the party.

It is important to state that we do not have ­issues with the concept of a “President Zille” or any other name so long as it reflects the will of the people.

We believe, though, that Vavi speaks of the ANC as a symbol of a nation’s aspirations, and how individualism and greed are not only killing the party but betraying their dreams.

Vavi speaks to a culture within the ruling party where the elites ask the rank and file to live on historic sentiments while the mandarins enjoy the present and have all the trappings that allow them to feather their nests for the future.

What we understand Vavi to be saying is that the party cannot just bank on its historic ­significance but has to do the work if it is to ­legitimately lead South Africa.

Vavi ought to have mentioned that in Ghana the party that Kwame Nkrumah, the founding father of that ­nation, led to power in 1957 – the Convention People’s Party – won just one seat in the country’s 2008 elections and its presidential candidate attracted a mere 1.4% of the vote.

The lesson that the ANC must take from Ghana and the party that led it and Africa’s independence from colonial rule is that even historic popularity and significance do not have a perennial ­effect.

It is a lesson that the likes of Julius ­Malema – who this week urged people to vote for the ANC because, if they didn’t, Madiba’s health would ­be adversely affected – had better learn.

Just as the ­Nkrumah effect lost its lustre in ­Ghana, the ­Mandela factor can only last up to a certain point and a government out of step with the aspirations of its people will lose its legitimacy to rule.

Vavi’s warnings matter to us not because we necessarily believe that South Africa will be worse off without the ANC.

We simply do not know.

We embrace Vavi’s comments because they warn of how easily we could fall into being a failed state without the usual interlude of being a promising state.

If that happens, our feelings about the ANC will not matter. We will all go down the drain with it and our institutions will become meaningless.

An ANC that is able to self-reflect is not only good for its members and supporters, but also a necessary fillip to a can-do culture across the ­spectrum.

The flipside is also unfortunately true. A sick ANC rather than an ill Mandela, as Malema would have us believe, is bad for the rest of society.

It cheapens the efforts of those who sacrificed their lives for freedom and adds to the belief that we are ­already a state where only the most ferocious predators eat and the rest of us are mere prey.

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