For all who live in it

2018-01-07 06:12
Mavuso Msimang

Mavuso Msimang

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The ANC has governed South Africa since the onset of democracy in 1994, when it won the popular vote by a wide margin and Parliament elected ANC leader Nelson Mandela as the first state president.

Twenty-three years on, high levels of corruption in government and state institutions, as well as endless scandals surrounding President Jacob Zuma, have combined to erode citizens’ trust and confidence in the party of liberation.

Society is aghast and people vent their frustrations in numerous ways – in street protests and social media, on television and talk radio, at dinner tables, in restaurants and in bars.

The discontent would be difficult to overstate.

In the course of pursuing their livelihoods, South Africans experience corruption in one form or another on the front line of public service.

This may be in the office that issues driver’s licences, identity documents or traffic fines, or many others too numerous to list here.

This can be both inconvenient and costly.

Sadly, the impact of corruption is most severely felt by those who fall within the category of citizens classified by Stats SA as “people living in poverty”.

According to its latest survey, 55.5% of South Africans fall into this category.

That more than half the national population lives in poverty is an indictment on the government’s socioeconomic development strategies.

Ominously for the ANC, youngsters, who form a significant percentage of urban residents, are increasingly withholding their electoral support from the party.

In a country where more than 80% of the population is Christian, the import of the statement by the SA Council of Churches that government has lost the moral authority to lead society cannot be overstated.

Trade unions, university students, social justice organisations and academics are raising the alarm about the debilitating levels of state corruption.

Against this backdrop of public disquiet about government shortcomings, the ANC held its 54th national conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg last month.

There were well-founded fears that the conference might either not be held, or would be aborted for one reason or another.

This is understandable considering the chaos that characterised the run-up to the meeting – the invalidation of provincial elections in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal by the courts, fisticuffs and flying chairs in the Eastern Cape and allegations of vote rigging galore.

At the event, maturity prevailed and the conference successfully ran its course, albeit not without highly publicised voting wobbles.

The greatest achievement of the conference was the fact that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lost the vote.

Scenes of jubilation, not only on the conference floor, but also across the country, greeted the ascension of Cyril Ramaphosa to the ANC presidency.

The markets nodded their approval and the rand strengthened on news of his victory.

With that change, motorists received a New Year Ramaphosa dividend at petrol stations.

But whither the ANC under president Ramaphosa?

Ending the Zuma era

In his poem, An Essay on Man, Alexander Pope writes: “Hope springs eternal in the human breast;/ Man never is, but always to be blessed:/ The soul uneasy and confined from home,/ Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

“Hope springs eternal” is a phrase generally used when one continues to hope that something will happen, even when this seems highly unlikely.

Indeed, too many former supporters have given up on the ANC.

Together with many South Africans, this writer remains optimistic, with good reason.

Ending the Zuma era, specifically extirpating corruption facilitators lock, stock and barrel, is not only desirable, but manifestly achievable.

With requisite resolve, this should not take excessively long.

There is sufficient integrity within the ANC to assist a determined leader to stop the nonsense.

This will be Ramaphosa’s litmus test.

An ANC that is demonstrably purged of corruption; brooks no incompetence in the public service; renounces ethnicity in thought, word and deed; and is the best-placed party to deliver on the unfulfilled promise of the Freedom Charter.

This is said with due and deep respect to all others. It is a government mandate the ANC has to earn anew.

Ramaphosa’s assignment is indeed an onerous one.

He must start by levelling with the people for any previous errors of commission and omission.

He must proceed with speed and work on returning the ANC to its founding values of respect for, and service to, the people.

Nothing less and not much more will be required.

Notwithstanding the precarious balance in the leadership lineup produced by the 54th conference, Ramaphosa is in a uniquely strong position to do what has to be done.

As many others have said, he must, among other things:

- Immediately communicate a clear programme and strategy for ending graft in government and in the country.

This must be complemented by an acceptable but realistic implementation timetable;

- As soon as is legally permissible, act on all recent court decisions that are aimed at restoring or achieving sound and ethical governance in conformity with the Constitution of South Africa;

- Secure an early national executive committee decision to recall Zuma, pursuant to the objectives of good governance.

This he must do in recognition of the crucial importance of the restoration of the ANC’s credibility in the eyes of the public;

- As soon as possible clarify the ANC’s stance on the funding of tertiary education;

- Immediately start the process of building genuine ANC unity that specifically excludes persons tainted with corruption; and

- Reach out to other organisations and patriotic South Africans to build a country that, in the words of the Freedom Charter, belongs to all who live in it.

Msimang is an ANC member and party veteran

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  nelson mandela

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