Ramaphosa is being made the scapegoat for a failing ANC NDR

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa is in Kimberley this week to celebrate the organisation’s 108th birthday. Picture: Charne Kemp
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa is in Kimberley this week to celebrate the organisation’s 108th birthday. Picture: Charne Kemp

President Cyril Ramaphosa and some of his Cabinet members, such as ministers Tito Mboweni and Pravin Gordhan, are seemingly being made scapegoats by a dangerously corrupt element within the ruling party.

The coalescing around Ace Magashule of those associated with state capture has seemingly defined its primary target as Ramaphosa and these two ministers.

This they do in a politically opportunistic fashion in order to project the New Dawn as a spectacular failure precisely because, they allege, it disregards the ANC Nasrec conference resolutions.

The red herring in this regard are such policy resolutions on the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank, expropriation of land without compensation, and energy.

Accordingly, many have warned of a political Armageddon for President Ramaphosa when the ANC meets in its mid-term national general council in June this year.

The narrative goes that this council will be the beginning of the end of the Ramaphosa presidency. What this narrative misses though is that it is not President Ramaphosa who is failing the country at this moment, but the ANC itself.

If anything, the national general council will be the beginning of the end of the ANC if the latter fails to come up with workable economic policies and strategies that will take the country out of the current economic abyss.

It is our view that the ANC is currently stuck on what to do to address the debilitating economic situation in South Africa using the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) model as underpinned by the Freedom Charter economic objectives.

In this regard the Freedom Charter calls for profound changes in the economy such as drastic agrarian reform; widespread nationalisation of key industries to smash the grip of White monopoly capital on the country’s economy; and radical improvements in the conditions of living of the working people.

It is crucial to note the world political context within which these Freedom Charter economic demands were made.

The Eastern European block, as an alternative socialist economic model to the Western capitalism, was still as powerful and influential in the ordering of world human affairs.

When the Soviet Block collapsed in 1989, leading to the unipolar world order, the ANC was faced with the possibility of making a mistake of overstating what the NDR could achieve in transforming the capitalist economy in line with the Freedom Charter for the benefit of the poor and the working class masses.

It would also seem that the ANC, informed by a dose of political naivety of the liberation euphoria, understated the resilience of an internationally rooted system of capitalism.

As a consequence, the NDR has thus far proven inadequate as a revolutionary programme for it to satisfactory address the economic inequalities within an admittedly powerful capitalist economy.

So this scenario presents the ANC with its Damascus moment because, changing or abandoning the NDR would mean the fundamental reconstitution of the vanguard movement for liberation in South Africa.

It would mean a realisation that the role of the ANC in relation to the liberation of South Africa had become obsolete.

The question therefore is, what is to be done when faced with the political conundrum of a stagnant and incomplete revolution due to an inadequate revolutionary programme (NDR)?

This question is what should preoccupy the ANC, the alliance and the entire mass democratic movement in all their discussions, especially on the economy.

The movement as lead by the ANC should make a thorough and honest appraisal of what the NDR has been able to achieve thus far (and it has achieved a lot), and ask itself whether the NDR, in view of its limitations, can achieve anything more than it already has.

From this discussion the movement will be able to chart a way forward, properly informed by the limitations and strengths of the NDR model within the current objective political milieu.

To use President Ramaphosa and certain Cabinet ministers as scapegoats when faced with these difficult political and ideological challenges is opportunistic and dangerous for the ANC and the country.

It means surrendering the ANC’s leadership role in the ideological struggle to chance.

The ANC cannot afford that luxury under these difficult times. The country needs an honest ANC that is able to make an honest introspection of its limitations and strengths for it to be able to lead our society.

We therefore conclude that the ANC’s problem is not President Ramaphosa, or ministers Mboweni and Gordhan.

It is the political and ideological stagnation of the ANC – due to the inadequacy of the NDR – in addressing the economic inequalities within the South African capitalist dominated economy.

So, if the ANC membership allows this political scapegoating and diversion using the current ANC president, it would have occasioned the recapture of the ANC by that corrupt element of the previous era, thus signalling the beginning of the end of the very ANC as we know it.

• Mzukisi Makatse is a member of the ANC. He writes in his personal capacity.

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