Following the Eastern Cape ANC provincial executive committee pronouncement on former president Jacob Zuma’s state capture commission defiance, the leadership of the province has been on a collision course with the office of the secretary-general Ace Magashule and the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) grouping called the Eastern Cape “populists”.
Deep factional views at the highest realm of leadership have burst into the public discourse especially on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
These internal divisions have resparked the debate on the character and nature of the ANC, what it is and what it is not. What are the morals and ethics of the national liberation movement leadership.
South Africans saw themselves debating what leadership can and cannot do.
These talks have rippled down through the card-carrying members to the general society splitting into pro and anti-Zuma and ANC constituencies, where some are arguing ‘wenzeni uZuma’ (what has Zuma done?).
Some are using ethnic and tribal cheap politicking that are likely to reverse political gains on tribal divisive issues to defend the former president not to go and appear at the state capture commission of inquiry.
One would naturally wonder why the secretary-general of the ANC would go to the space and talk of internal differences, and label the Eastern Cape provincial leadership as populists? This is a very interesting label for a province that was well known for producing ideas and leadership for the ANC.
It needs some of us not to just see it as a label but a historical moment to reflect on why would the secretary-general have the guts to call an intellectual hub of ANC politics populist and even compare a leader of a national liberation movement to apartheid regime leader PW Botha.
What a political indictment. Maybe we should ask ourselves what informs the label and what happened to the Eastern Cape as a strong force in the ANC politics.
Maybe the pronouncement of the Eastern Cape and the response of the secretary-general are a true reflection of an organisation at war with itself; an organisation that has disregarded its history of being a leader of society and what it means to be a leader of society.
Perhaps we need to remind the current leadership of the ANC that the party became a tool of choice for liberation because it understood the difference between right and wrong.
It rejected any wrongdoing done by anyone including the senior leadership of the ANC.
It was a national liberation movement carrying a moral and ethical compass seeking to change the lives of the people and not individuals. It never defended any wrongdoing of society. It treated everyone equally.
Defending the wrong-doings of former president Zuma is an indication that the ANC is losing its position of being a leader of society with a moral and ethical compass.
It is an indication that the ANC politics are no longer about development and transformation but Zuma. It could be that the ANC has lost its societal responsibility to lead by example.
Perhaps it is now the right time for society to start reminding the current leadership of the ANC that they are not above the law.
Anyone that has done wrong must prove him/herself on the platforms everyone else is subjected to. Courts and commissions are achievements of the ANC-led government.
It is the ANC that established these courts through the South African Constitution.
They aren’t counter revolutionary. Also, anyone who argues that a leader of the ANC must be subjected to the courts and commissions is not a populist but a person who understands the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and what the ANC is.
Magashule’s label of the Eastern Cape and comparison of Zuma to Botha is also another indication of the type of leadership that the ANC has.
They have lost their tools of analysis to interpret society and the historical evolution of the South African society.
Why would a senior member of the ANC compare Botha’s case to the case of Zuma. They come from two different worlds.
After all Botha suffered the consequences of not going to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Zuma is a leader and a product of the ANC; a product of a national liberation movement. Therefore he can never be compared to a leader of the National Party government. That was an insult to the ANC.
On the brighter side of things, the current pronouncement of the Eastern Cape on the issue of defiance of Zuma is perhaps an indication that the province is trying to reposition itself as a voice of reason for society.
It is a good indication that there are still people who can say what is right and what is wrong.
Let us applaud the Eastern Cape leadership for having views and expressing them for society to know their position on wrong-doings. Maybe we can say that things are starting to move in the right direction.
After all it is the Eastern Cape where the Freedom Charter was conceptualised and ironically the Eastern Cape Provincial House Building, Calata House in King Williams Town, is located at Alexander Road where the first black newspaper in South Africa was published in 1884.
The late Steve Tshwete, one of the gentle giants of the national liberation movement, defined history as a “dialogue between the past and the present in preparation for the future.”
Mba is former student activist and youth activist. Currently working as a researcher for the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, he is writing on his personal capacity.