Keeping alive the illusion

2019-02-06 16:05
Clive Ndou.

Clive Ndou.

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Like other scandals that have shaken the ANC, the Angelo Agrizzi testimony at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture, which for two weeks captivated the nation, has come and gone, paving the way for the ruling party once more to captivate citizens with liberation struggle tales — a strategy that has never disappointed in elections.

In any other democracy, the scale of corruption revealed within the ANC, as shown by former Bosasa executive Agrizzi, would have rung the death knell for the implicated political party.

However, here at home, the fact of the matter is that ANC leaders are definitely not having any sleepless nights over what has been said at the Zondo Commission.

While the extent of ANC corruption as exposed by Agrizzi compelled President Cyril Ramaphosa to issue a statement reminding citizens that the exposés at the Zondo Commission are part of the governing party’s cleansing process, it is not in any way a damage control exercise before the elections.

Ramaphosa’s statement, which he issued while at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he had gone to woo investors, was directed at the internal business community and not South African voters as such.

Ramaphosa is acutely aware that out of the myriad voters who have been backing the party since 1994, only a negligible number are concerned about the kind of corruption that Agrizzi spent days talking about.

What the poorest of the poor, the ANC’s core constituency, want to hear from ANC leaders is that their social grants will not be affected by the looting that has been going on in the government.

On the other hand, the working class, whose fortunes are intertwined with those of the ANC through a longstanding arrangement with its alliance partner Cosatu, want to be assured that the ruling partner will continue to keep the labour laws as rigid as possible.

It is these two constituencies that form the biggest voting bloc in the country and continue to power the ANC’s electoral machine.

In the ANC, the working class under Cosatu see an ally with which they are connected through an umbilical cord of class struggles.

Despite the interests of the poor being taken care of by the Constitution and other institutions supporting democracy, the ANC continues to perpetuate the illusion that protection of the masses will vanish if it is removed from power.

Similarly, Cosatu has made the people of the working class believe that they will lose their jobs the very day the federation ceases to exist.

Reminding these two constituencies that the ANC, despite all the scandals, is still committed to the struggle to protect their interests is far more important than dealing with allegations of corruption made against top ANC leaders.

In cases where a few of the masses express concern about the high levels of corruption within the ANC, its leaders simply borrow the words of one of Africa first post-colonial leaders, Julius Nyerere. When confronted by the masses who were not impressed with the leadership style of the African leaders who had replaced the white colonialists, Nyerere, who at the time was Tanzania’s president, responded: “It is better to misgovern ourselves than to be governed well by others.”

While a section of the black middle class, white and minority groups are appalled by the corruption within the ANC, they constitute the smallest voting bloc.

It is for this reason that the ANC leadership, which not so long ago distanced itself from former president Jacob Zuma, decided to bring him back into the fold — elevating him to the position of the party’s chief election campaigner.

Unlike Ramaphosa, who at times feels the need to address the concerns of other South Africans, including the black middle class, white and other minority groups, Zuma was known for alienating those who he thought were unlikely to vote for the ANC, irrespective of whether their concerns were genuine or not.

During his tenure, Zuma showed the middle finger to progressive blacks who were calling for his resignation amid corruption allegations around him, labelling them as “those who think they are cleverer than others”.

Zuma, who has been implicated in corruption by several witnesses at the Zondo Commission, had no qualms about making racist statements, including one where he told his supporters not to worry about suffering from stress as the disease only affects white people.

Zuma, alongside other ANC leaders, knows that the ANC can alienate other groups and still win elections.

Despite attempts by the Democratic Alliance and other parties to capitalise on the revelations of the Zondo Commission, the ANC’s core constituency remains intact, with the party destined for yet another resounding victory come election day.

As long as there is still enough in the public purse to pay grants, the ANC will continue to treat its corruption cancer as a minor ailment warranting very little attention.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  opinion and analysis
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