Guest Column

The future of the ANC is bright

2019-01-24 16:54
African National Congress supporters sing during their party's Election Manifesto Launch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, 12 January 2019. (Photo by Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe)

African National Congress supporters sing during their party's Election Manifesto Launch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, 12 January 2019. (Photo by Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe)

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Our members and leaders should be beyond reproach and should be the high moral standards through which society sets its own standards of morality, writes Ronald Lamola.

"The future is bright. The end is glorious, it is peaceful. But the intervening period is dark, bitter and finds its glory in the act of struggle." – OR Tambo at the funeral of Joe Qabi.

I choose this quote because it sharply captures the current moment in our body politic. The ongoing commissions of inquiry across the various state agencies, from the state capture commission, to the PIC commission, NPA commission and the SARS commission are a necessary transition in our maturing democracy.

They offer us as a nation a moment to pause and reflect about the lessons we have learnt in governance in the past 25 years, as well as the pitfalls and what we can take forward with us as we march towards a national democratic society.

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This intervening period is not a funeral. Not for the ANC or for our society as whole. Rather, it is a moment of self-correction and renewal. It is a moment that will take us onto a path of renewal. It is a moment that is instructive to the ANC and society as whole.

For our country to extricate itself from stagnant economic growth, a new generation of leaders must emerge from within the structures of the ANC and society as whole. The 54th national conference of the ANC has resolved on organisational renewal and unity. The youth of the ANC can be the catalyst of this organisational renewal project. It is within the younger generation that a culture of selflessness must be inculcated to avoid the expensive lessons of state capture. We have to inculcate the values of selflessness from a young age in our cadres.

Our structures across the country are led by a younger generation. It is this generation that holds the future baton for the organisation. The renewal of the ANC is important for our society as the ANC is a leader of society.

It will be difficult to renew society without renewing the ANC as our society is a microcosm of the ANC. The younger generation in the ANC carries with them a heavy load as its renewal rests on their shoulders. It is a responsibility they dare not fail.

The world is littered with examples of organisations that led to the renewal of their own countries; from China to some of the world's matured democracies. China emerged from the Cultural Revolution led by Deng Xiaoping to become one of the world's superpowers.

There was despondence, low morale and a paucity of intellectual rejuvenation in China during the Cultural Revolution. But the leadership of Deng Xiaoping led to the opening up of the economy and reforms that led to the renewal of the Chinese Communist Party and society as a whole.

These actions led to the youth being sent across the world to learn from some of the world's western democracies how China can catch up with the western world and civilised nations. This led to new ideas and the rejuvenation of the entire Chinese nation to be one of today's superpowers and the face of global multilateralism.

It offers a lesson for the ANC on how to reform itself and lead the societal reforms. The reconstruction of society as envisaged in the ANC manifesto is an important task that can only succeed if all social forces join hands in its implementation. It is in this regard that the ANC is in the process of self-renewal to enable it to drive social change which can only happen if the trust deficit between the ANC and society is restored.

The current ongoing commissions of inquiry are an important catalyst in the restoration of that trust. The promising penetrating eye of the upcoming Political Funding Act is another reason for the ANC to set higher standards of morality for its members than in society.

Our members and leaders should be beyond reproach and should be the high moral standards through which society sets its own standards of morality. To reach these higher standards we'll need sacrifice and high commitments to the values of the founding fathers of the ANC.

The ANC was once the embodiment of high moral values in our country; it is therefore not an impractical feet to achieve. To infuse a new generation and pass the governance baton to a new generation, the ANC has put a minimum of 20% youth in the list to Parliament and various governance structures. This will help to incubate a new generation of cadres in the public service, a generation that will be taught to be selfless and people centered. 

This period of renewal is very important for our economic recovery as it is through dedicated cadres of the public service that we will be able to extricate Eskom, Denel, SAA and other SOEs from the current financial quagmire they are in.

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A bold and visionary leadership is required to drive the renewal of our SOEs to play a leading role in the economy and the skills revolution. These state entities were once the beacon of hope in building skills in our country.

The new generation of cadres must drive the rebuilding of some of the SOEs to reclaim their rightful space in the global economy. Our entities like Eskom, SAA and Denel, to mention a few, are important leading examples in their sectors in the global economy.

South Africa is trapped in the middle-income countries and can be uplifted to economic growth by unlocking the economic potential of the youth. All the above will enable us to leapfrog into the fourth industrial revolution. The University of Johannesburg is already playing a leading role in this regard; it is therefore up to a new generation of cadres to catapult us into the cutting edge of new technologies.

South Africa was behind in all the three industrial revolutions, a new cadre must position us to lead or participate in the fourth industrial revolution; these will only be possible if we harness the potential of the youth to participate in the mainstream of the economy. It will also be possible if the golden triangle of government, civil society and business breaches the trust deficit. These heavy task will only succeed if the is unity of purpose in the project of renewal. The new cadre must be humble, people centered, selfless and a champion of a prosperous South Africa for all.

- Lamola is a member of the ANC NEC and working committee.

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