ANC’s fall will leave rural folks with no party

2017-03-12 06:16
Livhuwani Matsila

Livhuwani Matsila

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Livhuwani Matsila

As a proud member and an avid supporter of the ANC, it is painful and stressful to observe the early warning signs of the disintegration and collapse of this once-glorious and prestigious political movement of the poor and rural masses.

Although there are internal processes for raising concerns within the party, the magnitude of the current crisis crippling our movement compels some of us to raise these matters in the public domain.

While the ANC’s support in urban areas is clearly showing some significant downward trends, we in the rural areas are in panic that this could be a national phenomenon if nothing is done to recover and preserve the prestige of the organisation. Those in urban areas might have a multiple choice of political parties, but rural folks’ political home has always been the ANC.

We are devastated by the prospect of the eventual disintegration of the people’s movement. We spend sleepless nights and frustrated days agonising about whether the ANC will turn the corner and regain its reputation as a political party of choice for the rural poor and poverty-riddled communities.

We are flabbergasted that our movement, which exemplified the rainbow nation (with caring leadership), is evolving into a fractured and highly polarised political organisation with self-destructive tendencies. What is even more concerning is when tribalism within the ANC is given space to grow unabated. Its multiracial and non-tribal identity is fading away as we witness racial and tribal tendencies during the election of leaders and deployment of cadres.

We yearn for the days when the ANC was regarded as a political organisation whose unity was based on the interests of the poor and the working class. Unity, which was sacrosanct, continues to be replaced by factionalism based on self-interests. Factionalism and lack of cohesion in any organisation is a function of the quality of its leadership.

Any organisation which is at war with itself is suffering from a leadership crisis, and the ANC is not an exception to this. With most of its constitutional structures, especially the branches, regions and provinces under the command of politically inexperienced leaders, we should not be surprised when our movement begins to erode its prestige as a leader of society.

Since the dawn of democracy, many pseudocomrades emerged from the woodwork to join branches of the ANC and became overnight leaders of its constitutional structures. It has since been evident that most of these comrades joined the party to enrich themselves. The current talks of strengthening and uniting the ANC will yield no political results if there is no concerted effort to recruit and elect credible, competent and politically mature comrades to serve on the structures of the party and its leagues.

The branches of the ANC collectively are the most powerful structure in electing the required quality and calibre of leadership. However, the picture looks gloomy, as branches are now bought and captured by factions belonging to leaders without the required moral fibre and political acumen.

We welcome the emphasis by the national executive committee of the ANC that there should be discussions and dialogues on the principles which should guide branches when the process to nominate and elect the incoming leadership is open. We eagerly await this opportunity as a critical step towards restoring the dignity and prestige of the party.

It is therefore incumbent upon the collective leadership of the ANC to put self-interests aside and prioritise the needs of the rural masses who continue to languish in poverty, underdevelopment and disease. This would be a commendable effort towards restoring the prestige of the party, which is necessary to regain the trust and confidence of the rural masses.

Perhaps, in the near future, we shall be spared from the current embarrassment of own political goals and endless scandals associated with political arrogance by personality cults who do not care for the ANC and its people. If the status quo remains, whichever faction or leader wins at the ANC’s elective conference in 2017 will remain with an empty shell after the national elections in 2019.

Chief Matsila is a member of the ANC in good standing

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