Oh, the lengths some people will go to, to stay in power.
Our ANC has always thought they are God’s gift to South Africa. They thought they were invincible, they thought they walked on water; worst of all, they thought they have a halo on their heads, thatbrightens up everything in their circle.
Contrary to popular credence within ANC circles, this country’s liberation was struggled for by a lot of political groups; granted, the ANC was the biggest and oldest amongst them, but they were not the only one. However, ANC cadres have always behaved and continue to behave as if democracy was fought for by them and them alone.
A long time ago, while still within the movement, I was one of the loudest critics of the shenanigans within; the response I always got was either “you think you are too clever” or “if you are not happy with the way things are, why don’t you just leave us in peace”. So, eventually, I got tired of this attitude and I walked out. I stopped voting for them, 10 years into democracy. But I never stopped stating the ills I saw within the movement and criticising wrong-doing. For me, it was always about putting accountability right where it belongs.
I was just a humble and lowly branch member at that stage, critical of those in the higher echelons of power. Initially, I thought the response I was getting was just at the level I was and I excused it somewhat, thinking that the branch members were just ill-informed and had no clue as to what the ANC is all about. To be honest - to this day, I still buy into the Freedom Charter ideals and for me that was the fundamentally robust mandate for any politician in the movement.
Being a keen politics devotee, I kept my eye on the political horizon of our beautiful country; although I was disillusioned with the ANC, I still hoped and prayed that a new culture of allowing that truth be told to power will emerge within the movement. Lo and behold, it never did. When I was inside the movement, I always detected a certain level of arrogance, elitism, patronage and majoritarianism. At most times, an excellent point would be ignored or pushed aside, just because it did not enjoy support by the majority. Analysing issues to the point of consensus only happened in structures or forums where there were public eyes.
I also noticed that there was also a high degree of entitlement mentality from black people throughout the country, which played itself out mostly at ANC structures, events and activities. That was one of the reasons why tenders from government were almost always awarded to card carrying members of the movement; and public service office postswere reserved with card carrying members of the movement. At the best of times, those incumbents were not even properly skilled for them posts they were filling up. I will always lament CADRE DEPLOYMENT in public service.
Over time, I got to realize that the “Fit in or F off” attitude I experienced at branch level was the baseline attitude within the movement; a disappointing and disheartening realization. I mean, this was a movement I put my life on the risk for, canvassing for it during the first democratic elections in a highly tense and dangerous Tembisa township. Worst of all, this was a movement the poor were prepared to die for to keep in power.
Throughout all this, the few voices that cautioned about this patronage system being embedded into the government system were drowned by loud voices of the feeding frenzy on the trough. Phrases like “it’s cold outside the ANC”, “Majority rules”, “you are either with us or with the enemy”, “clever blacks”, “the ANC is going to rule until Jesus comes back” etc, were banded about, to shut down those that kept asking that the country (the land and its citizens) be put first before everything else.
Every election campaign, the voters are reminded of how it used to be during apartheid, with some numbers strategically thrown into the campaign to promise the electorate that they are working to improve their lot. The voters were not fooled;however, their hearts just couldn’t let them vote with their heads. The thing is like me, everyone was so loyal to the promise of the Freedom Charter, the promise that now that we are all equal before the law, our turn has come to also enjoy the wealth of our country equally.
Unfortunately, the ANC interpreted this blind loyalty to the promise of a better life to blind loyalty towards the ANC. Consequently, after the election, they just went back to doing what they do best, which is to continue to disenfranchise the masses. It is common knowledge among previously disenfranchised voters that they only get to see a little bit of change when election time approaches. The ANC haddiscovered the concept of “Recency theory” and they have been milking it to the full.
When Thabo Mbeki was recalled, the cracks within the ANC started to show and for the first time most people’s eyes were opened to the reality of the patronage existing within the movement. Jacob Zuma was put in power, under the pretext that he will unify the party. Those that put him in power knew that he will blindly continue with the patronage that was now the norm and throw money and all other state resources into silencing critics. The one thing that they probably did not realise, was how damaged and rotten the man is.
The problems started showing almost immediately when the cabinet became enlarged under the pretext of “improving government efficiency by re-focusing resources”. Meanwhile the man was building a personal dynasty with the public purse. Irritatingly, the entire movement remained behind him and defended all of his actions and movements. Even though some voices in the party continued to warn those within of his shortcomings, they were ignored, lambasted and chastised. All those phrases mentioned before, which were thrown at critics externally were now used against those critics within. And the factions started to deepen.
23 years later, we are one of the most unequal societies in the world and counting. We have the highest unemployment in years, our economy is sliding down a dark abyss and we are becoming the laughing stock of the world. We have a president who thinks the country belongs to him, his family, his cronies and his friends. This is a president that declared that he puts the ANC first before the country or anything else. We didn’t understand his reasoning then, but we do now because he has captured the party and now he is trying to capture the country.
Now, under his watch, patronage reigns high, government inefficiency is at the highest ever, money that could benefit the poor and all other citizens gets put into brown envelopes and flown out of the country with his silent approval, poverty levels are rising. We have the most confused government in all of Africa, never mind the world.
Factionalism and patronage is now the order of the day within the ANC, and yet they still proclaim to be the saviour of the previously disenfranchised. Now they have manufactured a new term “radical economic transformation”. When one listens to them talk about this, one realizes that even the person saying this does not have a clue how to radically transform the economy.
Something tells me that they do know that the only way to transform the economy is for the ANC to lose power and for another party to run the country, even if this means a coalition government. However, since they proclaimed themselves to be the Messiah for our country, the only party that is going to save the country, they will never admit to that eventuality.
My worry is that the country might be deeper in the dark pit by the time they realize their illusion is nothing but an illusion. By then, it would take ten times the effort to rebuild this country. The danger of that happening is written all over the place, but only the ANC doesn’t see it.
There is a saying, it states that you can’t fool all the people all the time. But I wouldn’t even waste my time telling them that. They are so blinded and punch-drunk by their own delusions of grandeur!!!!