Those who want to influence the ANC must join it instead of shouting from outside

2011-04-13 00:00

THE Constitution of the ANC states that a member who stands in an election for local, provincial or national government or acts as the election agent of a person standing for such election in opposition to a candidate duly endorsed by the NEC or PEC is guilty of misconduct.

This simple clause should render Nalini Naidoo’s inferred argument in her article titled “A schizophrenic state”, published in The Witness on April 4, that the ANC should allow its members to stand as independents, a non-starter. Any party that allows its members to contest an election as independents and still retain the membership of that party is doomed.

For starters, all parties strive for cohesive unity. While a political party is constituted by individuals, once they join the organisation they are then expected to subjugate their personal beliefs to the principles of that particular party. The only alternative to this is sheer anarchy.

In the same article, Naidoo raises a number of challenges that the ANC and South African society at large are grappling with. For this, she deserves praise. However, and worryingly, in her attempt to portray the ANC and the ANC government as schizophrenic and confused, she concocts a collection of tired arguments and ill-informed suppositions which, for obvious reasons, give credence to her preconceived position. It is the question of research fitting the predetermined conclusion. In this regard, we must set the record straight.

The ANC is an organisation that has, over the years, had to wage its struggle in conditions that are not of its own making. It adopts different tactics at different times while, all the time, keeping its focus on achieving the goal of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. It cannot afford to be dogmatic and straight-jacketed, but must be dynamic and adaptive to those conditions it cannot change.

The reality is that the ANC can never lose sight of the bigger picture. The ANC in government must always act in the best interests of the country. This does not necessarily mean that it will always choose the most obvious path but, as a governing party, it must lead with its eyes firmly set on the horizon. As such, it cannot afford to be spontaneous and reckless in interacting in the international-relations arena.

On the question of the remuneration of public servants, the ANC has acknowledged that the gap between the lowest paid and the highest-paid public servant is too much and this is currently being addressed. It has also, however, been the contention of the ANC that the state, in order to lead the transformation agenda, must be led by women and men of high calibre, thus necessitating that the remuneration of these officials should be competitive.

There is also no contradiction or confusion around the ANC’s economic policy. There is a difference between a position mooted by a party leader outside of the government which is under discussion as opposed to a government position articulated by no less than a president of the ANC who is also president of the country. In this regard, we need to distinguish between individual sentiments and party policy.

Perhaps the most important point that Naidoo’s article misses is that the ANC is a product of its times. Even internally, there are debates and different points of view on any given subject. This stems from the dynamic that the ANC is a broad church inhabited by comrades of different schools of thought. Obviously, therefore, there would be those, observing from outside, who would in their hands create their own personal model of the ANC. If their ideas of what the ANC should or should not be are not realised then they say that the ANC is schizophrenic and confused. We urge such people to join the ANC, be active within its structures and put their ideas before the scrutiny of the members of the ANC. If their ideas find fertile ground, then they would be supported and become policy of the ANC. This is the culture of engagement that is the hallmark of the ANC and anyone who wants to alter the ANC’s approach on any issue must go through this process. There are no short cuts.


• Michael Mabuyakhulu is the Kwa­Zulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development and Tourism. He writes in his personal capacity.

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