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The ANC's top 6 leaders at its NEC lekgotla. (Tshidi Madia, News24)
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Watch live as News24's Tshidi Madia and Pieter du Toit unpack President Cyril Ramaphosa's first State of the Nation Address of the 6th Parliament. Expectations were high for Ramaphosa to deliver a speech that inspired the nation and the business community.WATCH
The ANC NEC's latest statement was so devoid of reality and beset with contradictions it is impossible to take seriously. And it spoke of problems as if it isn't chiefly responsible for almost all of them, writes Pieter du Toit.
Last week the ANC duo of Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte delivered a statement on behalf of the party's national executive committee (NEC), that all-seeing and all-powerful body that seems to hover above the rest of humanity while directing everything on land, sea and air.
The statement was so devoid of reality, stripped of honesty and beset with contradictions it is impossible to take seriously.
It spoke about a tanking economy as if the party isn't chiefly responsible for the malaise we find ourselves in. It trumpeted its elections victory as if all's well and emphasised organisational unity and renewal – with the openly obstructionist and conniving Magashule delivering the line with a straight face.
Magashule, the ANC's secretary general and the main actor in the bestselling graphic novel Gangster State, and Duarte, forever stuck as deputy to whomever is the actual party secretary, proceeded to weave a tale of a functioning party attempting to give measured and considered direction to government, while offering workable and honest solutions to matters of national importance.
It was of course total hogwash.
If it wasn't so vastly removed from reality – and if our country wasn't immovably stuck in the devil's triangle of ANC infighting, poor governance and weak policy – it might have been mildly entertaining. But what Magashule and Duarte dished up was insulting.
Their performance – and the NEC statement – reveals either a stunningly weak grip on reality or a brazen belief that the public and the media are buying what they're selling. It may even be both.
Either way, the NEC's musings about life, love and loss will not only make no discernible impact anywhere on Earth, but its tenuous tethering to reality confirms there really is no concerted plan to move South Africa forward.
The statement's introduction starts off rather grandly by declaring that the NEC met for its "regular session" from 26 to 29 July following the elections, a NEC lekgotla, the opening of Parliament and the tabling of departmental budget votes.
"The successful implementation of this programme of government, depends on an African National Congress that is united, focused and with the capacity to mobilise society behind the mission of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa," the statement reads.
"The NEC therefore addressed the unity, renewal and capacity of the ANC, in the context of this mission, the current economic situation confronting our nation, and the expectation of the people that we must speed up transformation."
This is stated as if there isn't a coordinated, sophisticated and determined effort to not only stall any and all reformation efforts, but to render President Cyril Ramaphosa powerless so that he may ultimately be removed. And it's an effort that emanates from within the heart of the party and its leadership structures.
But the ANC wants us to believe it knows what it's doing and that governance is top of the pops.
Take the section in the statement under the heading "Speeding up radical socio-economic transformation". It is filled with copy and paste platitudes and is, to quote Judge Sulet Potterill in the High Court's most recent take-down of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, "vague and nonsensical and/or contradictory".
The ANC NEC, the statement reads, "woke up" to the news of sky-high unemployment. It however "agreed that among the most critical tasks of the organisation, as we continue to build a non-racial, non-sexism (there is a word missing from the statement, and "non-sexism" should presumably be "non-sexist") is therefore to place the economy on an inclusive and higher growth trajectory, create employment, strengthen local government and improve service delivery".
It carries on: "It noted with concern the poor performance of the economy, with continued jo(b) losses, and serious challenges in critical state-owned enterprises. This has a dire impact on poor households, the middle class, women and young people, who bear the brunt of structural unemployment, inequality and poverty."
It's difficult to know where to start.
It "woke up" to the grim employment figures? It has been presiding over deteriorating figures for years, and there are no – zero – plans to turn it around.
The NEC meeting should have been dominated by discussions on how to resurrect the economy, on clear and deliverable plans to reconfigure Eskom, how to support agriculture, what to do to give mining a last lease on life or how to start turning around our debt-to-GDP ratio.
Instead it was a meeting where a staged photo opportunity of a hug between Ramaphosa and former president Jacob Zuma was sent into the ether.
Nobody believed that picture was genuine. The two men detest each other, with Ramaphosa blaming Zuma for rampant corruption, and Zuma despising Ramaphosa because he is fearful of being jailed. As he should be.
South Africa will survive, but it won't be thanks to the ANC, it will be despite the ANC.
- Du Toit is assistant-editor for in-depth news.
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