Process no match for the majority (or mob) in Zuma's ANC

2016-06-08 09:35
Supporters gather at the FNB Stadium ahead of the ANC's Gauteng manifesto launch. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Supporters gather at the FNB Stadium ahead of the ANC's Gauteng manifesto launch. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg - Democracy is handy at times. Lately, President Jacob Zuma has been using it as a giant Elastoplast to cover up the ANC's cuts and bruises following its selection of councilor candidates ahead of the August elections.

Supporters of the ANC and its allies have been protesting, assaulting each other, and even committing murder to have their favoured leader make the list – and we're not even talking about competing against candidates from other parties in the August 3 local government elections.

On Sunday President Jacob Zuma told an appreciative crowd that packed out the 41000-seater Mbombela Stadium for the party's Mpumalanga manifesto launch that those who were unhappy with the list process "are not happy because of the process of democracy".

He said despite complaints that the list process was "interrupted or manipulated … it was a democratic process, but we are dealing with those matters".

He went on to poo-poo the processes of other parties, even though far fewer stories of violence and strife emerged from their list processes. "I don't know about other parties," he said. "Is there any process in other parties? I don't know. I have never heard. We are a democratic country, we just have to deal with our internal differences, to make it a better system, a system that must indeed live long. It is us, the African National Congress, the organisation that lives, that adapts to new positions, that is able to lead the world we live in, and the country we live in. We understand it better than many."

He laughed off the DA's process of having candidates apply for positions, like a job application – despite the fact that there were hardly any instances of violence reported out of these processes.

By blaming democracy, Zuma is attempting to make the ANC's list strife look a little better, but he also manages to tarnish the image of democracy a little.

Revolutionary discipline

What is this internal democracy Zuma is talking about? The day before, at the party's manifesto launch in Gauteng, Zuma said the party "adheres to the principles of democracy and democratic centralism in terms of which the will of the majority prevails and the authority of constitutional structures is respected".

He called for "revolutionary discipline", saying it entailed the "acceptance of the outcome of our elaborate list processes by all members of the ANC, despite their internal differences".

The heated ANC list process is to be expected, because the party still holds the biggest share of power in most of the municipalities, but given the state of the party now that the lists are in, Zuma could do well to show a little more humility and introspection.

He should ask, for instance, what understanding of democracy it is that leads to violence. Accepting the will of the majority and the party's structures is fine, but perhaps the process wasn't clear and transparent enough, or sufficiently understood by members.

In his Mpumalanga speech Zuma rubbished the notion that courts were part of a democracy (with the judiciary as one of the three arms of government, they surely are), which seems to imply he doesn't rate process as highly as he does a majority or even a mob.

Look at the way in which a vast, packed stadium is rated far more highly in the party than, for instance, a seminal ConCourt ruling.

With such logic, it's possible for ANC members to think they can overthrow party decisions by gathering in their numbers to protest.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma

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