Place merit above party loyalties

2017-10-29 05:54
ANC flag at the party's national policy conference. (Video screengrab)

ANC flag at the party's national policy conference. (Video screengrab)

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In last week’s edition, “Branches, Take Charge” (City Press, October 22 2017), ANC veteran Frank Chikane made an impassioned plea to ANC branch members to rescue the organisation from corrupt and greedy leaders.

On the face of it, Chikane’s plea is a genuine and noble cause. Perhaps we should excuse him for his misplaced and blind faith in the branches. After all, Chikane is an ordained pastor of the Apostolic Faith Mission. Chikane seems to think ANC branch members do not know what they are doing when they elect leaders. He seems to believe that, given sufficient political education, they will advance the interests of the country and stop all that undermines good governance. He is mistaken.

ANC branch members may be guilty of many transgressions, but they cannot be accused of not knowing that corruption is wrong. That some of them support corrupt candidates is not a function of their ignorance, but an investment in their own political and economic interests.

It is worth remembering that ANC delegates at the 2007 Polokwane conference resolved to disband the Scorpions because they saw it as targeting ANC leaders. The effective anti-corruption unit was replaced by the domesticated Hawks, which is seen as kowtowing to the political masters. Little wonder that foreign investigating agencies are now probing cases that the Hawks should be looking into.

At a political level, the ANC is tolerant of corruption, despite what its leaders may say publicly.


Over the past few months, our country has largely been divided into two campaign forces: one supporting Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to ascend to the presidency, the other Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Each of them has no policies of her or his own. They would presumably implement the policies of the ANC. But why so much emphasis on them as individuals?

Voters have been duped many times, grossly abused in fact. The ANC is good at creating an artificial, internal opposition. After largely failing to transform the colonial architecture of the economy for the past 23 years, increasing the gulf between rich and poor and making South Africa the most unequal society in the world, the Dlamini-Zuma faction now talks tough – radical economic transformation. This populist approach is partly a response to the growing unhappiness of the electorate who stage mass rebellions virtually every week, demanding water, houses and jobs.

The pro-Ramaphosa brigade, which has the support of many ANC veterans, has fashioned itself into a paragon of virtue, committed to eradicating corruption and ensuring clean government.

Few people ask why Ramaphosa, who is part of the Zuma administration, would suddenly develop the courage to fight corruption. As deputy president, what stops him from fighting corruption from his office now? Why should the country have to wait until he is president? If he is opposed to the rot and has no power to stop it, why does he not do the honourable thing and resign?

Equally, Dlamini-Zuma has been part of the ANC leadership for decades. She must tell us why the ANC has suddenly discovered that black people should benefit from the economy. Suddenly the ANC sounds like Azapo on the land question. The ANC government has been in power since 1994 and it should not be allowed to escape taking the blame for the government’s failures since the dawn of democracy.

These are just tricks to create a false dawn. There is no ANC for Ramaphosa or another one for Dlamini-Zuma. The artificial differences are packages to keep voters within the ANC fold.

If Chikane and others like him are genuine about rescuing South Africa from the precipice of corruption, they should advocate the building of strong organs of state independent of political influence. They should call for the separation of politics from administration. We need career bureaucrats whose appointments are not linked to political office.

Currently, the lines are blurred. There is no difference between Luthuli House and the Union Buildings.

Instead of calling on ANC branch members to carefully select their leaders, Chikane and others like him must confront the structural problem of our politics. Poor and unqualified managers are appointed to parastatals so they can funnel resources to connected political elites and the ruling party. It is not a mistake that the boards of many parastatals are occupied by people with questionable credentials. It is by design.

If we are to save this country, we should be honest in our diagnosis of the problems. We have to place merit above party loyalties. When we have the right people in the right positions, we won’t need to get some liberals to take the National Prosecuting Authority to court to do its work.

If the system is working, branch members will do the right thing because failure to do so will have consequences. It is not good enough to rely on branch members to do the right thing. After all, we are here because of them, Moroti Chikane.

Thokoane is Azapo president

Read more on:    cyril ­ramaphosa  |  nkosa­zana dlamini-zuma  |  frank chikane  |  anc

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