Our obsession with the ANC is keeping us from engaging about what is really important. We fail deliberately in rescuing the public dialogue, writes Ralph Mathekga.
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It is becoming clearer by the
day that the ANC has now moved beyond the point where it can be rehabilitated
as a trusted, progressive national movement.
It is also clear that the
prospect of a general election in two years’ time, when the ANC could potentially
get less than half of the votes, is occupying ANC leaders’ minds – thus the new
efforts to prepare for coalition forming.
One of the documents now
before the ANC states that future coalition partners should be persuaded that
the ANC’s policies and programmes are best and that they should rather join the
ANC as members.
And in another, unrelated
development, EFF leader Julius Malema told an interviewer last week that if the
ANC were serious about radical economic transformation and land expropriation
without compensation, there would be no reason for the EFF to exist and that it
would dissolve into the ANC.
On the weekend, Mpumalanga Premier
David Mabuza said he has undertaken to “bring Malema back into the ANC myself”.
The EFF in return called him a kleptocrat.
If it does happen that the
ANC gets less than 50 percent of the vote in 2019, it would likely still be the
biggest party and would thus want to go into a coalition with either the EFF or
the DA to form a government.
The outcome of the present
battle for the heart of the ANC could influence the choice of coalition partner
and the two smaller parties’ electoral strength could also play a role.
But as things stand now, the
ANC is steadily moving closer to the EFF. There is no difference between the
EFF’s policies and the Zuma populists’ demands for state control of the
economy, including the banks, and the nationalisation of privately owned land.
If South Africa is indeed
going to be governed by an ANC/EFF coalition after 2019, the country will be
firmly on the same track that led to Venezuela’s bankruptcy and instability.
The most likely scenario would be that service delivery would be severely curtailed because the state coffers would be much emptier; the currency would collapse; investors would flee in droves; and the poor would get poorer and angrier. Only a small political elite would benefit.
The longest serving minister
in the Cabinet, Jeff Radebe, said on Sunday at the release of an ANC discussion
document prepared for its June policy conference that the ANC “must act
urgently to restore its moral character to win back the trust of the people”.
The document is refreshingly
honest about the party’s many failures, but it is hard to see that it would
actually do something to correct these while it is at war with itself and
pulling in different directions.
There are many senior ANC
figures that are very critical of President Jacob Zuma and his cabal, but still
believe in the “idea of the ANC”; that still hope that a post-Zuma ANC could
revive itself and lead the country successfully. An ANC 2.0.
Dream on, comrades. The point
of no return has been reached.
It’s like an old wooden
floor. If there were only a few rotten planks here and there, one could treat
the floor and replace some pieces, but if the rot has infected most planks, the
floor can’t be saved.
The rot is too deep and wide,
comrades. Just read the newspapers of the last few days: scandal after scandal
at Sassa, Prasa, SAA, Eskom, SARS, SABC and elsewhere in the civil service and
state-owned companies; Cabinet ministers like Bathabile Dlamini and Faith
Muthambi acting like they preside over a banana republic.
Here is another sign of the
times: the demand from the ANC Youth League that the national clown, Hlaudi
Motsoeneng, be sent to Parliament and given a Cabinet position.
Let’s suppose that the ANC
decides at its December elective conference that its new president should also
be the president of the country – if the ANC wants a chance to win in 2019,
that’s exactly what they would have to do.
How on earth would this
leader, be it Cyril Ramaphosa, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or whoever else, dismantle
the vast networks of patronage in government on all three levels, state-owned
companies, the civil service and the private sector state capturers?
How would she/he be able to
contain the traditional and rural Zuma strongholds without triggering a palace
How would this leader regain
control over the state security and intelligence services, the police, the
Hawks, the national prosecuting authority and SARS, all firmly in the Zuma
inner circle right now?
Too many people simply
benefit too much from the Zuma-ANC’s largesse for there to be a radical
Perhaps we’ll have more of an
idea of which way the wind is blowing after the ANC’s June conference.
At this point, yet another
breakaway from the ANC is probably unlikely, but not out of the question.
If it does happen and the new
party is as viable as the last breakaway group, the EFF, new possibilities for
other coalitions in 2019 may emerge.
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