Democracy trumps self-serving politics

2012-10-13 11:51

The moment we have been waiting for has arrived. The ANC has finally opened the much-awaited nominations process for elections at its national elective conference in December.

The political silly season is with us.

Is this for real, or is it simply a mirage given the “political arrangements” where self-serving agendas were paraded as efforts at building unity at both the SA Communist Party and labour federation Cosatu’s elective conferences?

In any case, what happened at last month’s Cosatu congress did not build unity or promote democracy as we know it.

It was farcical and it only temporarily plastered over the cracks as ­utterances, songs and signals by delegates and the fierce debate around the “Lula Moment” ­demonstrated the deep-seated intra-organisational differences.

The lesson that the ANC must and should learn is that unity should not be built on the shifting sands of illusion.

It will be false and dangerous as it serves to ­subvert democracy and advance narrow and selfish interests of powermongers.

True unity is built on a set of principles and values that advance the overall objectives of an organisation.

Hence, it is critical that the ANC should not fall into the trap of allowing back-room wheeling and dealing to triumph over democracy.

Leadership should be elected on the basis of capability to implement an organisation’s strategy and programmes rather than on how influential or popular you are or even one’s propensity to dispense patronage.
It should not also be based on the privileges of incumbency, ­including membership manipulation, ethnicity, vote-buying or rigging and subterfuge and ­sophistry.

In strategic management, structure follows strategy for any organisation to be effective.

Now given the myriad challenges (leadership or lack thereof ­included) the ANC needs to ­urgently change tack in order for it to still remain a vibrant, effective political force.

Hence, ANC members should not only be encouraged but also be given space to deliberate on the policies and programmes of their organisation and only then ­determine who is best placed to lead the charge.

The ANC branches should nominate, without fear, favour or prejudice, men and women whom they believe will rise to the occasion.

If members feel that the incumbents performed satisfactorily, something I doubt, they should be returned to office through a genuine democratic process.

Equally, should they feel that the current leadership failed not only them but also the nation, they should be free to elect new leaders who are capable of ­catapulting the party to a higher organisational trajectory.

The powerful (political and economical) should not be allowed to use their positions, including money, to subvert democratic processes.

Those nominated (including Kgalema Motlanthe) should not be dissuaded by the uninformed from offering their wealth of experience and capabilities.

No ANC province is monolithic or bigger than the collective voice of the ANC.

So provincial membership numbers are not an indication of actual voting patterns and we, the electorate, should be worried if that pans out to be the case as this will underscore tribal undertones – a dangerous development that we will all live to regret if not nipped in the bud.

Let the race begin and be completed.

» Mogodiri is a political and media commentator

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