Max du Preez

'Where is the centre?'

2010-09-15 11:20

The Tripartite Alliance of the ANC, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party has become a Brezhnev.

Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union between 1964 and 1982, was in such a poor mental and physical state during the last few years of his reign that he was bed-ridden and could not remember the names of his Politburo members.

But the Communist Party feared a succession battle and kept him on, sometimes just wheeling him out in public to wave at the crowds while he had no idea what he was doing.

They were right to be afraid: a man called Mikhail Gorbachev was waiting in the wings. When he took over three years after Brezhnev’s death, he started radical reforms which led to the demise of the Soviet Union and of international communism.

The Tripartite Alliance is also brain dead. It is also just occasionally wheeled out to wave at the crowds.
But do we have a Gorbachev somewhere in the background waiting to bring sanity to the ruling party?

Mock make-up love scene

We will probably be forced to watch this macabre dance of death for a few more years: vicious insults flying between the three formations, but then they stage a mock make-up love scene, hiding the blood-stained daggers up their sleeves for a few days.

(Some say make-up sex is the best there is. I’m sure the Tripartite Alliance doesn’t share that view.)

In reality there are four partners now, not three: Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu have succeeded in positioning the Youth League as a formidable force in the ruling alliance. And people say Juju is stupid?

The man whose job it is to keep the warring factions together, Jacob Zuma, prefers to make peace with the fringe Afrikaners of Orania instead, or hob-knobbing with his super-rich BEE buddies in China.

In situations like these political commentators love to quote the poem by William Butler Yeats: “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”.

Yes, things are falling apart, but where is the centre?

Zanu-fication of the ANC

Is it the ANC mother body with its new, narrow black nationalism, the place where the “president’s family feed first”, to quote Zwelinzima Vavi? The party that is the driving force behind the off-the-wall demands for the nationalisation of the mines, banks and agricultural land  and new measures to kill off free speech?

Or is it Cosatu, who is at least genuine about the scourge of corruption and nepotism, but whose members didn’t hesitate to endanger the lives of patients and the futures of our children when they went on strike? The organisation that now wants to hit the few productive citizens with a new super-tax?

It cannot be the Communist Party, because it is a tiny, fringe organisation led by a fake revolutionary with a love of expensive limousines and colonial-style five star hotels.

I know a number of senior ANC politicians who are as concerned as I am about the increasing Zanu-fication of the ANC, to use a phrase made popular by comrade Jeremy Cronin of the SACP (en kyk hoe lyk hy nou, I feel like adding).

But these individuals are either too scared to stand up and be counted or too reluctant to get their hands dirty.

Spinning out of control

It will be up to them, come next week’s National General Council meeting of the ANC, to bring sanity to the ruling party and to stop undemocratic policies like a media tribunal.

No, the Democratic Alliance Plus (the “plus” is for Patricia de Lille) will not save us, not now and not in the foreseeable future.

A ruling party that is cannibalising itself and spinning out of control is bad for all of us, and bad for our democratic culture.

It is now up to the remaining decent men and women in the ANC to do the right thing, for the sake of the once proud movement of OR Tambo, Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela, but also for the survival of South Africa as a prosperous, open and tolerant democracy.

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