Our viewpoint | A defining year for the ANC

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One of the few blessings of 2020 was that the Covid pandemic muted the noise from political parties. All the vitriol which the likes of Julius Malema have on tap, all the redundant rhetoric and kneejerk recriminations were put into perspective as society as a whole wrestled with a virus which exposed vacuous promises for what they were.

One other highlight of the year was the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture, which offered a gripping spectator sport to replace the cancelled leagues.

Inevitably, however, it has already been used as a football for the various factions in the ANC to kick around as they gear up for what may prove to be a defining year for the party as the country votes in the municipal elections.

Now that it is severely constrained in its ability to dish out favours and cash, given that it has had to own up to having bankrupted the country, there is great interest in how much liberation capital it has left to woo the electorate in the numbers that have given it the authority it has relied on to have its way.

The ANC has not indicated that it has anything more to offer, and voters will have to weigh up a range of unpalatable truths. Exposés of corruption have tended not to sway the minds of its supporters, and it is unlikely that what­ever conclusions the Zondo inquiry comes to will influence the vote.

Voters will also have to gamble on which ANC they will be backing given that the factions will all be fighting to the death this year. The grim truth, however, is that the ANC is a lame duck, whether victory goes to the supporters of President Cyril Ramaphosa, or the bitterenders still cheering for secretary-general Ace Magashule and the Jacob Zuma zombies.

Zuma and Magashule are both scheduled to appear in court in February, so we can expect an explosion of conspiracy theories that will muddy the waters.

They will offer no substitute for a vision of how local government will operate in the absence of capital and clear leadership.

Yves Vanderhaeghen
Yves Vanderhaeghen

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