Ralph Mathekga

#ANCPolicy: Finding complex solutions for simple problems

2017-07-03 09:06
ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe briefs the media on the party's state of readiness for the policy conference (Mpho Raborife, News24)

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe briefs the media on the party's state of readiness for the policy conference (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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The ANC Policy Conference got off to an interesting start with the release of the diagnostic report which paints the picture of a party that is yet to fully comprehend what it means to lead a modern democratic society, or a market society for that matter.

The diagnostic report shows that the ANC is aware it is rapidly losing the moral grounding as a party that was once trusted to change the lives of the majority of the people for the better, to a party that is in Wonderland and has lost a sense of right or wrong.

The document acknowledges that some of the party members who have been deployed to government have been compromised as they are more committed to the pursuit of self-interests than implementing the party mandate. It openly mentions the Gupta family’s relationship with some members of the party, and how that impacts upon the stature and reputation of the ANC.

What also comes out clearly in the document is that the ANC needs to democratise its internal processes to be able to manage the behaviour and conduct of members of the party to ensure discipline.

The document however ventures into the murky terrain of playing the blame-game, and seeks to rather blame foreign interests seeking to inspire the overthrow of the ANC.

The fear of ‘regime change’ comes out quite strongly in the document. This is where one begins to lose hope for the ANC’s ability to turn the corner and do something about the self-inflicted problems that have engulfed the party.

The problem with the narrative of regime change is that it actually recuses the ANC from taking responsibility when it comes to mistakes that have been committed by the party. Those are mistakes that are responsible for lower levels of trust that continue to shape the relationship between the ANC and its core voters.

It is a good thing to acknowledge that problems exist within the party; the issue has to do with who is responsible and how to uproot some of those immediate problems.

The Gupta email saga should have made the ANC diagnostic process a fairly straight forward task. The emails show unequivocally that some ANC members have opened their mini franchises within the ANC, channeling resources in the direction of the Gupta family. To address this simple issue, the ANC simply has to undertake disciplinary actions against individuals who are implicated.

This task does not require that one goes back to the much talked about ‘strategy and tactics’ document of the ANC. It simply requires that a list of individuals involved with the Guptas is compiled and the process of disciplining members begins within the party. 

Instead of dealing with basic things that can be addressed speedily with a potential to win back the public confidence, the ANC often prefers to spend much of the time explaining how complex the problem is. This is the exercise that gets them to engage in an unnecessary journey of recalling the history of the party including the Morogoro ‘strategy and tactics’ discussions.

While it's a good exercise in that it shows how far the party has come, it isn’t really necessary to deal with the pedestrian corruption that has engulfed the ANC in recent months.

The type of problems that the ANC is experiencing could actually be listed on one page in a few sentences. It is all about corruption which undermines the moral basis of the party and eclipses the progress that has been made by the party in government. This is not complicated at all.

By always articulating their problems as complex and structural even when confronted with basic issues the ANC ends up getting caught in a cycle where everything is connected to another and no solution is ever sufficient to address the issue at hand.

Imagine spending two days jostling over whether the problem is ‘white monopoly capital’ or just ‘monopoly capital’. What an unnecessary disagreement!

- Ralph Mathekga is an independent political analyst and author of the book When Zuma Goes. He writes a weekly column for News24.

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Read more on:    anc policy conference  |  ancpolicy17  |  ancpolicy


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