Forget about factions in ANC, watch the 'interest groups' say analysts

South Africans should stop talking of "the archaic idea" of there being different "factions" in the ANC and rather think in terms of "interest groups", according to political analyst Ralph Mathekga, founding partner of Clear Content.
During a panel discussion at the recent SA Property Owners' Association (SAPOA) conference in Cape Town he said people in these "interest groups" are complex and move across the so-called factions.

"All they want is just a seat at the table - as a lobby group," said Mathekga. "This might be a year of uncertainty, but decades of uncertainty is coming."

In his view, modern, complex democracies do not have certainty.

"We should learn to survive in uncertainty. We as South Africans still want to frame our solution on one person, but there are no short cuts. We must educate citizens about what they are entitled to and what their responsibilities are," he said.

Ebrahim Fakir, director of programmers at Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute, agreed that President Cyril Ramaphosa cannot reduce uncertainty in the country.

"There are fundamental contradictions in the governing party, with two factions believing opposite things and executives and CEOs side with the faction they think can be of benefit to them. Society has to play a part by being active citizens," said Fakir.

"I am not arguing for a mad socialist country where a dictator sets the pay of a CEO, but for short-term incentives to subsidise entry level jobs."

In the view of political analyst Max du Preez, another member of the panel, South Africans have "massively over-estimated" the power of Ramaphosa and "his grouping" to exert themselves.

"The criminal justice system did not do its job. At least six of the chairs of portfolio committees belong in jail and not in Parliament and I am not saying this lightly," commented Du Preez.

Despite a lot of things having gone right, there is a sense of profound pessimism in SA currently compared to the profound optimism of February last year, in his view. This is mainly because the "Ramaphosa grouping" and South Africans in general hugely underestimated the damage during the Zuma-era and what it did to the economy and its social fabric.

"Cheap populism is making political conversation very difficult right now, especially with the red herrings like 'white monopoly capital' and 'radical economic transformation' that were introduced. We need to actively fight dogma and orthodoxy," said Du Preez.

As for land reform, Du Preez said the Constitution will be changed, if not this year then the next.

"Let us make peace with that and realise it is more dangerous not to change the Constitution because of the political dynamics that have changed," he said.

"If we, and especially those in the property business, embrace this, then maybe we will strengthen property rights. Then we can actually get our hands on some of the state properties in the cities and give it to the people."

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