Analysis: Where is the ANC's voice?

2015-06-03 08:57
The African National Congress logo. (File: ANC)

The African National Congress logo. (File: ANC)

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Johannesburg - The ANC's excuse that there is a separation of power and it therefore cannot make its voice heard on major issues facing state institutions and the country is "wearing thin", according to political analysts.

In March, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the party noted with concern developments in a number of institutions, including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Hawks, Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), Eskom and the SABC, among others.

However, he would not discuss the issues, saying the ANC was confident that the matters were receiving the necessary attention from its deployees in government.

Should the ANC make its voice heard on these issues?

Political analyst Ebrahim Fakir believes it comes down to the fact that the ANC "doesn't know what to say" and the excuse that there is a separation between government and the party is not good enough.

"It's quite clear... that this excuse is wearing thin - this idea that they can separate the one from the other when it is convenient.

"When it's not convenient, they are not prepared to separate it from each other," he told News24.

"Why isn't the ANC as a movement talking about... the NPA, the president's irrational - as a Constitutional Court found - appointment of its previous head? Now there are accusations of interference, what's the movement going to say about an ANC government apparently having paid FIFA. They want to talk about moral regeneration, where were they?

"More importantly where were they as a leader of society when Marikana happened? So Gwede was saying at the time that the ANC was not welcome. Why wasn't he prepared to separate the party from the government then, because that's what they’re saying to us? Why didn't he separate the ANC as a movement from the ANC as a governing party to say 'we as the movement are here to sympathise with you'? Why then was there a fusion?" Fakir asked.

‘No coherence’

He said the problem was that there was no coherence between what the ANC wished to achieve in different areas.

It appeared that people were actively undermining each other, which was something that had been pointed out in the secretary general's report since 2004.

This was part of the reason the ANC was not commenting on major issues.

"They don't have a position, there is no coherence on what they wish to do, they are increasingly moving the moral edge for taking the kind of decision they are taking and therefore unable to reach society.

"Frankly, they don't know what to say," Fakir said.

Political analyst Susan Booysen said the fact that the ANC was keeping mum on these issues was an indication of what state the party was in.

"We only get affirmatory statements from the ANC on those issues welcoming such and such an announcement or supporting the president.... it is not an ANC anymore which feasts on the big issues, it's not an ANC which gives the impression that it is in command.

"And because it does not explore... the big issues that worry South Africans, they kind of hope that these issues will go away behind a few quick ANC attacks on opposition parties," she said.

Booysen agrees that the ANC is choosey about which state issues to comment on.

"They only say that when it is convenient to them... at other times they are thoroughly absorbed in state matters.

"It doesn't matter how much they deny it."

Bad time for the party?

Booysen believes the ANC will look back on this time and say "how did this happen to us?"

The party would have to reflect back on a time when there was "deference to the president and the group of ANC Zuma supporters".

There was a sense that people would keep quiet until that group had spoken.

Fakir said economic factions or interest-based coalitions in the ANC were undermining the overall approach to stability in governance.

These so-called factions were about money, interests and positions.

This was having a bad effect on how the affairs of society were being administered.

"That's where the ANC is increasingly doing more and more poorly," he said.

The administration of society included how the courts functioned, how the prosecution service functioned, the way in which the state raised taxes.

"There is a breakdown in all those institutions which administer society. It's the instability that will undermine the process," Fakir said.

No answer

Last month, Mantashe brushed off questions from reporters on whether Zuma had taken the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) into his confidence regarding  some state issues.

This resulted in Mantashe attacking a reporter and accusing her of trying to be an ANC insider.

The ANC has been against the idea of two centres of power and has rather opted for an overlap.

The party wants its policies to be easily translated into policies of the state.

So why would Zuma not explain to the party what is going on in the state?

Fakir referred to the reasons why the ANC removed former president Thabo Mbeki as president.

There were five reasons cited:

- Manipulation of state institutions;

- Failure to account to the alliance;

- Failure to account to the ANC and;

- Failure to have the ANC lead government.

The ANC needed to be confronted on this, Fakir said.

"Yes the president should be taking his party into his confidence, but if Polokwane's decision was correct [to remove Mbeki]... why are you still unable to explain, if you are leading the state, why Marikana happened, why Sars happened, why Nomgcobo Jiba is behaving the way she is, why the NPA is in crisis, why the private sector is still doing its own thing?"

Fakir said the attack on journalists was becoming "myopic".

"People are asking questions about one thing... they are making it about everything else - other than what people have asked the question about.

"That is a sign... that there is no answer to these things because this is what happened," Fakir said.

Read more on:    anc  |  johannesburg  |  politics

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